You just followed up on a quote to a customer for a new system that you were proposing to install. Unfortunately, you learned that the customer decided to go with your competitor’s quote. You’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t know what these customers want anymore! I quoted the system that I thought they wanted, and I even lowered my price more than I wanted to, but I still lost the job!” You may be feeling like you just can’t make any money in this business anymore.
We’ve all been there, and we’ve all had these exact same thoughts on occasion. What do customers really want today?
When talking to your customer, you need to understand that there are five principles that going to the buying pattern. Every customer will go through all five of these steps as they make a buying decision. It doesn’t matter if they’re buying a car, a dinner out with their spouse, or a pack of bubble gum. Buyers will always go through all five principles. The only thing that differs is how fast they will move through the five. The more expensive the purchase, the longer it will take to go through all five principles. If you’re buying a car, you’ll be very deliberate as you go through these five principles. If you’re buying a pack of gum, it will happen very quickly. If you understand these five principles, it has to change the way that we communicate with our customers.
The first principle is that customers’ preferences will be shaped by the options they are presented. Think about it. If you’re looking to buy something that you don’t have a lot of knowledge about, you will ask other people. The first person will give you an opinion, and you’ll start to form yours. Then you’ll talk to another person, who may give you a differing opinion. That will change your opinion. The more people you talk to and the more research you do, the more your opinions will be shaped and formed. The same thing happens with your customers. As they see different options, it changes their preferences.
Keep this in mind as you’re putting together your proposals for your customers. Remember your customers cannot buy what you don’t offer them. If you offer products or services but don’t tell your customers about them, you will never sell those products or services. If your customers truly knew what they wanted, they wouldn’t be asking you for your expert advice.
During the sales process your job is to educate and inform the customer. It is during the stage that they will start to form their preferences in which option they will be purchasing. Ask questions and listen carefully to find out what’s important to them. Don’t prejudge your customer and assume you know what they want or need. Doing so will only prevent you from helping the customer purchase what they want and need from you.
Stay tuned for the next post in this series, when we will address customer buying principle number two.