What a waste of time. The customer said he would call back in an hour, and you have done nothing but wait by the phone ever since. That was three weeks ago. It’s probably time to go home.
Why do clients make all those promises they don’t keep? You’ve heard it all -- “Let me check with the wife, and I’ll get back with you.” “We will give you an answer next month after the meeting.”
If we could read their minds, what would we hear? Do we really want to know? Mabe they are thinking “I’m not convinced you are any good.” Ouch. “I don’t know if you are honest," or “You look weird and kind of smell like beer.” Customers don’t say those things, of course. Instead they chide. "We’re just looking right now but we’ll let you know.”
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In the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray has to survive the same day over and over in an attempt to win the heart of the lovely Andi McDowell. It’s a nightmare, but it gives him the opportunity to continuously correct his mistakes. Finally, through much trial and error, he lives out the perfect day by anticipating what was about to happen and responding in the most advantageous manner.
As business owners and salespeople, we have a similar advantage. We hear the same comments and objections over and over. Everyone knows it’s a smokescreen, but we play along just to be nice. What if we understood what the customers want before they ever arrived? What if we answered the questions they never ask but are always thinking?
As a business owner, you need to know -- and proactively address -- the three big questions.
1. Do you really understand my pain?
Nothing connects us to our potential client like understanding their problem. With the oceans of information available on sales technique, it may come as a surprise that, in this Harvard Business Review article, James Allworth shares that empathy is the most valuable thing they teach at Harvard Business School.
While technology gets ever more complex, people remain the same. They want to do business with a person who genuinely understands, not only the problem, but how that problem makes them feel. Conversations with open-ended questions and answers, that are repeated back for clarity, go a long way toward that end.
2. Do you really have the solution?
Even if you have the best gizmo on the market, it is your confidence the client buys. When you look the part, act the part and your solutions sound like they have been tried in the fire seven times, you are difficult to doubt. The marketplace is flooded with people who can’t answer, with certainty, the most basic of questions in their own field.
They’ll tell you that it “should work,” or that ir "gets good reviews.” That's just like telling a customer, “It’s my first day at the parachute store but I think you will like this one.” Give me a break! Customers want to know that you know what you know. They gravitate toward confidence. It is rare, hard to forget and contagious.
3. Are you proven and trustworthy?
So far so good but, to a person who has entered your space for the first time, there is still the slim possibility that you are nuts. Your words need back up and lots of it.
Whether you do spinal surgery or you sell hair in a spray can, your client needs clarity that you are overly qualified and that countless others are delighted with your service. You can’t have too many testimonials. One realtor in New York has removed his beautiful walnut encased realtor’s license and from the wall beside his desk and replaced it with dozens of framed testimonials of happy clients. What a great idea. New clients want to be part of the chorus of winners.
It would be much easier if people would just speak their mind. But alas, business is a game of guess. By anticipating and answering the unspoken questions in advance, you have a greater probability of creating profitable relationships that solve problems for years to come.
Will this preemptive action work for you? Let’s put it this way, if Bill Murray can end up with Andi McDowell, you can do absolutely anything.