[Video]: Understand your prospects’ needs and sales will follow

As a business owner, one of the fundamental concepts to remember is understanding the “real business” you’re in. Not simply selling shoes, or providing plumbing services, or radiography, but the real reason customers seek you out.

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The real business that you are in – from a marketing perspective – is either solving people’s problems or fulfilling their dreams (or a bit of both). It doesn't matter which part of the Five Step Sales Funnel you’re working on, the more you stay focused on this basic concept and remember this crucial foundation, the more effective your marketing will be.

This applies when you’re marketing online, advertising in newspapers, or sending out direct mail. And it especially applies to face-to-face interactions and how they are affected by your understanding of the "real business" that you are in.

The dilemma of too much choice

Unfortunately, it’s all too possible to offer your potential customers too many options – to the point where deciding on the one they want becomes too hard. No sale.

For example, some years ago I wanted to buy a new lawn mower. I went into a mowing shop and the salesperson was very helpful. She showed me all kinds of mowers: ride-on ones, side catchers, back catchers, self-propelled, push mowers, electric start. At the end of the interaction I had three or four brochures, got some prices, and I said, “I'll think about it” and went back to my car. So far, so good? Not really.

The problem is, she didn't put any money in the bank and I didn't get my mower. Here is the problem: she thought she was trying to sell me a mower. What she should have been doing – the real business she was in – was understanding my problems or fulfilling my dreams. And as much effort as she put in, she didn't spend any time doing those things.

Take the time to listen to your customers

And so my mower quest took me to another shop. But the experience I had there was very different. When I walked into the store and said, "I'm here to buy a mower," the salesperson said, "Do you mind if I ask you a few quick questions so I can point you in the right direction?" And of course I agreed. Here’s how the conversation went.

Salesperson: "Tell me, is it a big garden or a small one?"

Prospect (me): "It’s a fairly small block and I just want to tidy up a few things".

Salesperson: "Are you passionate about your mowing?"

Prospect: "No mate, I just want to keep the lawn looking nice. In fact, if I can get away without mowing it for a few weeks I'm happy."

Salesperson: “What about second hand?”

Prospect: “That would do me, because I don't want anything exotic. The only thing is that it has got to be reliable".

Salesperson: "That's important to you?"

Prospect: "Absolutely, I just want to pull the cord and have it work every single time".

The interesting thing was that after that conversation, he didn't show me every mower in the shop. He said, "From what you've just told me, it will be one of these." He took me over to a certain part of the shop. And that section had exactly what I was looking for.

Before I knew it (and I'm as price conscious as anyone else), before I'd really clarified the full pricing, it seemed to me that his offsider was walking out to my car with my car keys, the mower, and a whipper snipper over his shoulder to put in the boot of my car. Sale made!

Focus on your prospects and prosper

So, what happened? In my first interaction, the salesperson didn't understand that she was really in the business of solving my problems or fulfilling my dreams. So she spent no time asking me questions to find out what they actually were.

And because she didn't know anything about me, she was forced to spend a long time doing a big sales presentation about every mower in the shop. The end result? Too many answers, no real solutions. And no money put in the bank.

By contrast, the second salesperson actually spent some time asking me questions. Whether he realised it or not (and I’m pretty sure he did), he was actually finding out what my problems were, and what dreams I had. With that knowledge in mind, he could direct me straight to the right solution with a short, targeted presentation.

And the result? He put my money in his bank account – and in fact even more money than I’d planned to spend. How? Because one of the questions he asked was whether I wanted to mow frequently (no!). He said "Mate, if you get a whipper snipper, you can just go around the edges sometimes and people will think you've mowed the lawn because it just neatens it up". Sold! I happily handed him my money for a whipper snipper as well.

Solve problems, fulfil dreams, count the profits

When you’re marketing to your prospects, remember: you’re not really in the business of “selling” a product at all. And the beautiful thing is that this concept applies across every aspect of your sales funnel:

  • From the content that you have on the website
  • Through to the data collection forms
  • To the type of emails you send out
  • Through to your follow-up system.

It’s all about solving problems and fulfilling dreams.

If you would like a hand with your marketing, just give Crockford Carlisle a call on 3891 3800. We can help you right across the spectrum of how to help you find more customers, to spend more – that is increase the average spend – and to do so more often.

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