Determining Customer Needs Through Questioning¹
Many selling coaches believe the best approach to selling rides on building relationships of trust with customers. So, rather than high pressure sales, retailers need to find solutions to problems. In a competitive environment, this may be what differentiates you from your competitor.
The consumer experience strategy can realize results that outpace competitors in profits, growth and customer satisfaction. As the credit crunch deepens, customers are fighting back against poor treatment which could directly affect the bottom line. A positive approach is multifaceted and includes:
- Interpersonal relationship-building. This process is necessary to develop sales questions that lead to a satisfied customer, rectify problems and create rapport for future sales. About 90 percent of conversation is listening. Active listening requires the listener to care about what the other is saying a fundamental requirement for good relationships.
- Asking open-ended questions. This allows for a wide-range of responses and provides an opportunity for the person answering to tell you what they consider important, expand on their answer and share more than just facts. Such a method also allows you to:
- Gather information about the person's agenda
- Clarify your understanding of what is being discussed
- Connect with and understand the person better
- Listening to the answers. This drives the focus to the customer's needs, generating solutions that build trust and form relationships. Often, this method leads to up selling or cross selling to higher priced products, enriched customer satisfaction and profitable sales teams.
- Cross-cultural communication. This can bridge the growing language gaps that exist in the retail market. Assess your business's cross-cultural attitude; teach employees to respect the cultures of customers and other employees; and use this diversity to improve customer interactions and sales margins.
- Customer feedback. Learning what they think will keep your finger on the pulse of the consumer. Use customer surveys, focus groups, informal one-on-one conversations and problem-resolution interactions to determine next step actions to improve business objectives.
- Employee suggestions and ideas. Encourage staff to share ideas for product or service innovation. By implementing employee suggestions where possible, the employee feels validated as a team player and the customer benefits from improved service.
Successful retailers can leverage their resources in a systemized manner so as to literally run the business without them. Employees who feel valued and confident in their skills are more effective leading their company to higher profits and repeat customers. A motivated sales team makes the company stand out in today's competitive marketplace.