Seeing from your customer's point of view
Six Ways to Increase Sales
By Kevin Nunley
The better you can describe your best customers, the more products and services you can sell. How do you that?
Know Your Customer
What newspapers, magazines, and e-zines do they read? What topics interest them most? What groups or associations do they belong to?
You can devise a questionnaire to send to your best customers and prospects. Entice them with a free offer or a big discount.
Many actors start developing their character by writing down a long list of words that describe the character. This helps the actor think deeply about the part they are going to play.
This strategy works well to help you figure out what kind of people buy often. You likely know far more about your prospects and customers than you realize. This method helps you get a clearer understanding of what you probably already know.
Do A Needs Analysis
Experts on selling always tell you to start by doing a needs analysis for the customer. That's a fancy way of saying you need to figure out what the customer's problem is, and to decide how you can fix it. Would your potential customer's life be improved with your product or service? You can fix that!
Does your customer find a certain product or service inferior? Your mission will be to deliver a better solution.
Michael Dell got the idea for his Dell Computer business while he was still in high school.
He quickly saw computer stores weren't giving him very good prices and service was almost nonexistent. As a customer, that was his problem.
"When I would go to a computer store, I would pay 25 percent retail mark-up for a computer and be served by a person who knew little about computers," Dell wrote in a recent article.
This early experience became the idea behind his own business. By selling direct to customers, Dell could eliminate the mark-up.
He also insisted on customer support being a top priority, positioning Dell as a consumer advocate.
Ask Some Questions
What if customers have some idea what they need, but don't understand the big picture of why they need it and how you can provide a solution? Be prepared for this.
It is a little like when you or I go to the doctor. We know something hurts, but we may not know what is causing it. If you don't know what is causing the problem, it is very hard to come up with a cure.
Start your needs analysis by asking questions. Help the customer zero in on the exact problem.
When a prospect tells me "I'm not making any sales on my web site," I first find out if they are getting enough visitors. The problem could be too little traffic or they may be getting enough traffic but their site's copy isn't selling.
Best of all, doing a needs analysis gets you focused on the customer. That is the quickest path to a sale.
Listen to your Customers
Why is this important? Most of us tend to develop beliefs about ourselves, our products, and our businesses. We have strong feelings about why we are good, why people should buy from us, and why our customers find us important.
Believing in yourself and your products and services is very important. It is hard to be successful if you don't believe with confidence.
Beliefs can also blind us to reality or new conditions. Believing in a false reality can bring unpleasant surprises down the road when a competitor suddenly surges or customers begin to stay away.
Watch yourself, your biz, and competitors with open eyes. Look for solid indicators that your view of things may need an adjustment. If customers disagree with your view, or just offer suggestions, listen to them. There may be some valuable grains of truth in what they think.
Stay Acquainted with Your Customers
Keep notes! This tip sounds a bit sneaky, but customers love it. From time to time customers may tell you about something going on in their life. "My daughter is graduating next week" or "Product X is our best seller" or "My team won the championship."
Write down those revelations for later use. Refer back to your notes right before placing a phone call or composing an e-mail to the customer. Selling depends on your excellent product or service, but also on your likability and ease with people.
Notice how personal and natural this conversation sounds:
"Is your daughter enjoying being a graduate? She's going to State U? You're probably looking for a low-cost computer for her. I have a great new budget model that fits into any space and is loaded with the software that a college student needs."
Customers are impressed when you remember things about their life or business. They don't know you are reading from notes. The customer feels important. They think they are getting your special attention. In the end, that is the most powerful tool you can use to entice people to buy.
Remember What It Was Like To Be A Customer
Many businesses say their best ideas come from customers. It is also a good idea to think back to before you started your business. Think back to the time when you were a customer buying from businesses like yours.
What frustrated you? Were there parts of the business you felt weren't giving you a very good deal? Is that part of why you have a passion to give customers a better solution?
Keep doing that by knowing your customers and satisfying their needs, because you were in their shoes once.
Kevin Nunley provides marketing advice and copy writing for businesses and organizations. Read all his money-saving marketing tips at http://DrNunley.com/. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (801)253-4536.
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