He listened keenly to my responses then said: “Let me show you something.” He opened his laptop made a few keystrokes and turned it towards me. “Is this the kind of website you’d like, or is the other one better?” I liked the first. He didn’t bother to explain to me how it was made. He just showed me what I wanted. He made it easy for me to understand and decide. This is what I’d like us to talk about today.
Observing these four aspects helps in doing so. Explore through questions. Limit options while offering appropriate alternatives. Eliminate Jargon. Educate where necessary.
Explore through questions
When selling a computer for instance, getting excited about Core 2 duo, 5 Series, 2GB RAM and all the gizmos is not of much use to the average buyer. Exploring through simple questions is more productive. “Do you seek a laptop or a personal computer?” Laptop. “Which one do you currently have?” It is black and has Q written on the top. (Meaning he is lay to the bone) “You mean like this one here?” (Make it easy for him to choose) His eyes light up, Yes. “It’s a good laptop. Why do you want to change?” It’s getting slow and I was told it has been overtaken by time. Plus I keep getting this annoying pop up to upgrade to Windows 10. (He’s a technology laggard, hates change but wants a faster machine) “Okay; which programmes do you mostly use? As in Excel, Word, Corel Draw, iTunes?” No. Just Word, PowerPoint and sometimes Excel. During my free time, I dabble a little with Publisher though. “Okay. Is yours a field job, like sales or it is a desk job? (To know whether to get him a heavy or light duty one) Desk job. “Are you particular about the colour?” Not really. Show me what you’ve got… Chances are that this exchange will happen as he is moving about your showroom or his eyes are browsing the display window. Meaning it’s a conversation, not an interrogation. “I think you will like this one. Your laptop is a 2 Series and we are now in 5, which is why it is slow –educating. This one is a 5 Series and comes with Windows 10 fully installed – suitable alternatives. “You want to move to Windows 10 because lower versions will struggle with inevitable upgrades and you will have a much smoother end exciting experience (not interphase). Here try it out” (He does). It comes in two colours-this brown and green. The price is the same. And to help you in your presentations, let me show you what a slide presenter can do…. “
Notice that a much more superior machine was sold, but the conversation centred on the buyer’s needs. Let him be pleasantly surprised when he discovers the other things his new laptop can do when he gets oohs and ahs from colleagues, friends and family. After all, he’ll trust their admiration more, than he would have done yours.
Limit options while offering appropriate alternatives
Too many choices can confuse customers so limit the options. “When you go to the market to buy two apples, why do you get disappointed when you find only two remaining? So an advert used to ask, and then would give us the answer. “It’s because you want variety” Indeed, variety is the spice of life. But just like spices can also get too hot to consume, likewise too much variety can be annoying and can get ignored-like we do the returns to a Google search-research says few people go past the first page of the thousands that appear. When it’s too much, suddenly variety isn’t delightful anymore; it is irritating. What to do? Limit the options.
In a restaurant, few patrons are connoisseurs of what they seek and will be delighted (more relieved) by the waiter who recommends a meal for them after a brief interview which goes something like, “Would you like white or red meat?” White. “Then you will love our fish; or, would you prefer the chicken, Sir?” Notice the options usually given are in twos. Warm or cold? Red or white? With toppings or without? Such choices make it easier for the buyer to respond to, and hasten the movement along the sales cycle. Making a choice from an option of two or three things is much more palatable than twenty two or twenty three things. This giving of two options also lends itself to closing. “Would you like to sign with the blue pen or the black?” or “Would you like to pay in cash or via card?” Notice that the questions asked in the examples are leading questions. Irrespective of how the prospect answers them, they move towards a close. The questions are also not entirely closed neither, nor are they too open. If the prospect can’t meet you tomorrow at 2.30pm, or the day after at 6pm, then he will not respond to your query for an appointment with a no. On the contrary, he will give other dates as an option; which still gives us what we wanted-an appointment.
But even limiting the options also needs to be limited. Otherwise when elongated, they can be irritating as in this illustration. “Excuse me Sir, will the water be bottled or tap?” Bottled. “Carbonated or mineral?” Mineral. “One litre or half a litre?” Half a litre. “Warm or Cold?” Warm. “Still or sparking?” Still. “Flavoured or unflavoured?” Flavoured. “Mint, passion or garlic?” Mint. “Taking it away or taking it here?” Arrgh! Taking it here…
Eliminate Jargon and educate where necessary.
I’ve written about jargon here before. I can write about it again and again until my African face turns blue. I consider eliminating jargon that important in selling. Using jargon erects walls instead of laying bridges. It runs the risk of making the client feel inferior or embarrassed. It confuses the client and wastes both yours and his time because the conversation is not flowing-you are talking but not communicating. And yes, if it’s one farm consultant (or engineer) talking to a farm manager (or another engineer) about the use of beneficial insects (or variable resistor) and they both use jargon, it is fine. They understand each other. And I’m guessing I’ve just lost you with the jargon I’ve used there, which is my point exactly.
When selling, actively avoid the use of your industry’s jargon. But, by all means, enthusiastically (and hopefully, knowledgably) use the buyer’s industry jargon. One of the ways of overcoming jargon is giving an illustration the buyer can understand.
For instance, I finally understood what internet speeds of 5mbps meant; this seller didn’t tell me 5mbps is “very fast” or means 5 mega bytes per second”, none which I understood. No. This seller told me something different-knowing my love for movies, he explained that the average movie is 700MB in size. That I knew.
He went on to explain that 5mbps means that at that internet speed, I can download a movie in 140 (that’s 700 divided by 5 seconds), or about 2 and a half minutes. A light bulb of revelation ignited in my head…Aha! So that’s what 5mbps means. Now, if only instead of using jargon (saying 5mbps) they’d tell me I can download a movie in 2 and a half minutes, even stretched it to “about 8” for good measure; then I’d appreciate what ‘fast’ means and more importantly, the sale would become easier as what’s in it for me would be clearer. Jargon is a gun many salespeople inadvertently shoot themselves in the foot with. And in case you’re wondering, variable resistor is jargon for volume knob.
Educate where necessary
“Shaving your hair like that will make your scalp itch unbearably. Hair looks the same from outside but differs immensely within. Yours grows in a spiral fashion from the cuticle, base, thus favouring this other hairstyle which is what I recommend.”And so the man who had walked into my barber’s shop, now wiser, conceded to his advice. Educating the customer is a powerful way to communicate the purchase of a solution. Interestingly, customers do not buy because they have learnt something new. No. They buy because the seller who educates them inspires them with confidence because he comes out as an authority on the subject. Also, the buyer feels cared for, reassured by the depth of repository of the knowledge shared.
The essence of product knowledge isn’t for the salesperson to share it exhaustively with the prospect. No. It’s to be used as a doctor does with the patient. Despite the deep well of knowledge the doctor has, he will offer his patient a sip or two of the water from it based on the symptoms the patient has shared. Imagine what would happen if the doctor emptied the entire contents of the well flooding you with what he knows. Dazed, confused and irritated, you’d leave sicker than when you arrived. Equally, make it easy for the customer to understand and decide.
Paint a picture sufficient enough to enlighten the buyer and assist him with making a decision. Many times, this requires the seller to understand the buyer’s circumstances- seeing things from the buyer’s side.
Kageche is the lead facilitator, Lend Me Your Ears; Kageche@lendmeyourears.co.ke