Have you ever thought that your job included educating customers? A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted some interesting information about what some people don’t know.
The Annenberg Public Policy Center found in a 2016 survey that 31% of respondents couldn’t name a single branch of government. As if that’s not alarming, there were the 10% of college graduates who think that Judith Sheindlin (Judge Judy on television) sits on the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s according to a survey by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.
What do your customers not know and what are you going to do about it?
What do you want customers to know?
You have to consider what you want your customers to know when you’re in sales. Start thinking about the information that would make your customer a better decision maker or able to make a decision. Products today are complex and good sales professionals work with customers to help them make the best buying decisions. They bring the information needed to make a decision and then translate what the information means to that customer.
Consider how you make product recommendations. You could recommend the product by saying that many customers have selected that product when you offer a few choices. Think about how you respond when you make on line purchases. Knowing that hundreds or thousands of others have also bought the same product you are considering often gives you peace of mind to also make the purchase.
Remember, people want to know the time, not how to build a watch.
Do you sell and use a lot of data in your meetings with customers? Remember that a stream of data means nothing to a lot of people if they don’t understand how the data was determined and its meaning.
Think about the last time you saw the test results from your annual physical. The units of measurement were probably unrecognizable to you unless you had a science or engineering background. The tests themselves probably made no sense to you either. The results were meaningless to you unless a range indicated low, normal and high.
It’s the same for your customers. Perhaps you want to discuss the superior performance of your product. Pick the data that mean something to that customer. Explain the test and the results your product received. Then explain that most competitors’ products have results that are far lower (or greater if that’s worse for competition). Then explain what that means for the performance of the product. The impact on performance is the most important information you can provide.
It’s like the weather report. Barometric pressure is meaningless. The viewer wants to know if he needs to bring his umbrella to work.
Avoid sounding like you’re talking down to people.
A salesman trying to educate customers can seem like he’s delivering a patronizing monologue. You quickly annoy your customer instead of engage him. One way to avoid talking down to your customer is to preface what you say by referencing other customers who wanted to know about what you are saying. You could say, “Many of my customers want to know more about X so I can share with you what I know about that.” When other people want the information it makes the listener more comfortable listening because he isn’t being singled out for being ignorant.
Knowing what your customers don’t know is one of the unknowns in sales. It is your job to learn more about what they don’t know and you, instead of your competitors, should be providing the correct information they need to buy.