How many times have you found yourself trying to understand your clients and get into their heads? If you’re an entrepreneur, it probably happens every single day.
Being a successful entrepreneur means being a great salesperson. Being a great salesperson means being able to truly understand your clients and prospects.
The problem is that trying to understand your clients point of view is not easy. In some cases, it can take quite some time before you break through the surface and discern your customers’ real needs. It’s not always easy.
To make things more stressful, there’s also the fact that you’re not very likely to turn that prospect into a customer if you can’t get them to open up to you. Also, if you’re dealing with an existing client, it’s not likely that you will retain their business if you don’t understand their ongoing needs.
It can be frustrating.
The reason this is so hard is because people aren’t always easy to figure out. It takes quite a bit of effort to decipher the puzzle. Each prospect is like an individual Rubik’s Cube that you have to solve. Okay, it’s a lame analogy, but it still make sense!
Putting yourself in the shoes of the prospect is difficult. This is why many entrepreneurs have not learned how to do it.
The result? They’re flying blind when it’s time to pitch their solution.
Since they can’t determine what their customer’s true needs are, they don’t know what the appropriate solution is. They’re in a position where they are guessing what product or service to pitch. It’s a hard predicament to be in.
In this situation, a successful sales pitch is almost impossible. Since you don’t know what the prospect’s true needs are, you won’t know how to present the best solution.
Fortunately, there are ways to make it easier to understand your clients better. There are things you can do to get your customers to open up to you, give you more information, and connect with you. If you implement the tips in this post, you know how to understand your prospects better and earn more sales.
Tip No. 1: Active Listening
Be honest. How much of problem is the fact that you’re not retaining the information your client is already giving you?
In many cases, the problem lies not with our failure to get the prospect to talk, it’s with our failure to actively listen to what the prospect is saying.
Active listening is not easy. It takes effective persuaders a long time to master this skill. However, once you become a good listener, you will get the information you need much easier.
Here are some tips for active listening:
- Maintain eye contact. If the interaction is in person, don’t allow yourself to be distracted from your prospect. Your attention needs to be on her and her alone.
- Don’t listen to respond, listen to understand. Many times, we find ourselves already concocting our pitch in response to what the prospect is saying. Active listening means suspending any responses until you have all the information you need.
- Try to picture what the prospect is saying. Sometimes visualizing the customer’s statements in your mind can make it easier to comprehend and retain later on.
- Listen for all opportunities, not just the ones that allow you to pitch your product. Even if your customer isn’t saying something that gives you an opportunity to sell, they may be giving you an opportunity to give advice and guidance. This allows you to further establish yourself as a credible authority in the mind of your prospect.
Tip No. 2: Build Rapport
If you want to get rejected, then you should make the mistake of getting right down to business and going straight for the sale. The prospect isn’t able to relate to you as a person when you make this error.
You’re just another self-interested person who is trying to get their money.
The result? Yet another lost sale.
If you’re looking to establish a profitable long-term relationship, it can’t be all about business. Build some rapport first. As a matter of fact, don’t ever stop building rapport. Even when you ARE selling.
Because people buy from those they know, like, and trust. How can they know, like, or trust you if they don’t even know you? Let your guard down. Don’t be in such a hurry to talk about how great your products are. You can get to that later, I promise.
Find areas of commonality with your prospect. Unless you’re from another planet, there won’t be a single prospect that doesn’t have something in common with you.
Maybe they like the same sports teams. Perhaps they listen to the same types of music as you. They could frequent the same restaurants you do. Whatever it is, use it to your advantage.
Find those areas where you and your prospect connect, and she will become more comfortable with you. This will make her more likely to open up to you when you start asking questions.
Tip No. 3: Use Humor
Humor is one of the most effective tools when it comes to getting your prospect to let his guard down. Not only does it allow you to set the tone for the rest of the interaction, the positive emotions it brings out will instantly endear you to your prospect.
In his book “Talks Like TED: 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds,” author Carmine Gallo points out how important humor is when you’re trying to present an idea. In his book, he discusses how humor makes you more likable, which means your prospect will be more likely to do business with you.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “but I’m not funny!”
It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to be Kevin Hart to use humor to your advantage.
You don’t need to tell jokes. There are other ways to get your prospect to laugh. Try telling a story that relates to something your company does. Or even a funny story that relates to something you and the client were discussing previously. Chances are, if you have stories that you think are funny, your prospect will probably think they’re funny as well.
Was there something funny that happened when you first started developing your product? Maybe there was something funny that a customer did when doing business with your company. If it can get a chuckle, it’s worth using.
Tip No. 4: Keep Your Mouth Shut
When interacting with your prospect, it’s very important to remember that it’s about them, not about you. Your prospect should be doing most of the talking.
You will be tempted to interrupt and start pitching your solution while the customer is talking. Resist that temptation at all costs. If you interrupt and start pitching, you will derail the entire conversation. At this point, it’s not time to discuss your product. It’s time to understand your prospect.
The only time you should speak is when you need to clarify something the prospect is saying. It’s okay to rephrase the prospect’s statements in order to comprehend what the customer is saying. As a matter of fact, doing this will show your prospect that you are paying attention. This will help you establish a closer connection.
Tip No. 5: What’s Their Vision?
One of the best ways to understand your clients is to find out what their vision is. Try to find out where they want to be and what they’re hoping to accomplish.
If it’s a B2B customer, where are they trying to take their business? What goals have they set for its growth?
If it’s a B2C customer, find out what they might hope to achieve with your product or service. What are their goals.
It’s easy to focus only on what the customer might need in the present. This is a mistake. You need to find out where they want to be, and what’s keeping them from getting there. This is what will enable you to help them.
Tip No. 6: Find Out Their “Why”
As entrepreneurs, we always want to focus on our purpose. After all, building a successful brand means figuring what your company’s purpose is.
If you’re trying to better understand your customer, why not find out what their purpose is? What do they stand for beyond consuming your product or service? This may seem like something that’s only applicable for business customers, but it can also apply to consumers as well.
What is the reasoning behind their interest in your product? What lifestyle does your product or service promote?
A good example of this is a company called Beardbrand. This Washington-based company sells beard-grooming products for men. The company promotes the “Urban Beardsman” lifestyle.
So their customers buy products to care for their beards, but there’s more behind it. It’s because they are part of a culture that they buy into. Beardbrand has managed to tap into that culture.
Figuring out your customer’s “why” is the key to understanding them. It’s also the key to being able to solve their problems and help them get where they want to be.
The first step to a successful sales interaction is understanding with whom you’re dealing. Without knowing who your prospect really is, you’re trying to hit a target blindfolded.
The better you know your prospect, the better your sales pitch will be. You will earn far more sales when you take the time to understand who you’re trying to sell to.
This article was originally published on Small Business Trends.