Selling is one of the most important skills when it comes to running a business. Without sales your “business” is not much more than an idea. In order to be successful, to generate revenue and make profit, you need to be able to get others to buy your product. But, selling is also used in many other areas of a business. It’s used to get the right people on your team, it’s used to get others to buy into your vision, and it’s used often through leading your team through their job performance. In fact, selling may be the most important skill in leading a successful business.
Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions when it comes to performing the skill at a high level, and many people tend to take the wrong approach to the skill. It’s commonly believed that the best sellers are outgoing, confident, personable, well-spoken, and know their products and can describe all the great benefits of their products. And although all of these attributes can help with sales, the most important attribute when it comes to selling is a great listener. If you want to sell like a champion, you need to be able to find out what your customers want and deliver that. Here’s how:
Step 1 – Do a Needs Analysis
What are Needs?
Needs are things that are most important to a customer; things that will ultimately play into whether or not they buy. When discussed, needs typically bring intense emotions because they are the things that matter most to the person. Someone buying a house, for example, would have things that are ‘must haves’; maybe it’s having finished basement for their kids to play in, or maybe it’s having a large backyard with privacy that they can lounge in, or maybe it’s having extra rooms and space for entertaining. If these were your customer’s needs, discussing them would elicit positive emotions in your customer and would make them more apt to buy.
Not only is it important to find the needs of your customer, but also to find the ‘why’ behind them. By understanding their needs and why they’re important, you’ll be in a better position to help them find what they’re looking for. Most people will happily tell you what’s important, though often what they share will be their surface needs. Rarely do people just tell you what’s most important, and very rarely will they share the ‘why’. In order to find those out you’ll need to complete an effective needs analysis, by asking them open-ended questions to pull out their needs. Here are a couple of techniques to pull out needs:
1. Ask about past experiences with the product – Do they have any previous experience
with the product or a similar product? What did they like? What did they dislike? Why?
2. Ask them directly – What are they looking for? What’s most important to them? Why?
The most important part to finding out needs is listening. Effective listening goes beyond listening with just your ears. Watch their body language, listen and watch for emotional tone. These are things that can help you determine what is really important to someone and what’s not. Once you think you understand their needs validate with them to make sure you’re on the right track. “It sounds like ____ is really important to you.” You can then sell them the appropriate product that matches what they’re looking for.
Step 2 – Match Features & Benefits to Needs
What are Features and Benefits?
Features are statements that tell a customer about the product, whereas benefits are statements that show the value of the feature to the customer. For example, a car may have a number of features such as air conditioning, a sunroof, a GPS, auto-breaking, etc. Sharing these features with a customer tells them about the vehicle. But features are not what entice someone to buy; benefits entice someone to buy. Features tell. Benefits sell. Each feature has corresponding benefits, the value to the customer. Air conditioning means keeping cool on those hot summer days. A sunroof means enjoying the sun and breeze. GPS means easy navigation and never getting lost, etc. It’s the benefit that a customer buys. So not only is it important to know all the features of your product, but even more important to know the corresponding benefits.
Matching the Appropriate Feature & Benefit to Needs
Now that you know the customer’s needs you can now share the features and benefits that correspond with what they’re looking for. If you understand their needs and share the appropriate features and benefits that match those needs, you will elicit emotion in the customer which will lead them to buy. People tend to make buying decisions based 80% on emotion and 20% on logic, so if you want to stand a better chance at closing a deal you need to appeal to their emotional side. This is not to say sell them something they don’t need by appealing to their emotions; knowing their true needs allows you to help them find products that solve their problems. A common mistake of many sales people is ‘feature dumping’. Feature dumping is selling every feature (and benefit) to the customer. Understanding now that different people have different needs, you can understand that talking about features and benefits that don’t matter to a customer will not elicit emotion and not lead to them buying. Imagine a customer that’s looking for a big back yard that they can play in with their kids, and the sales person is talking to them about the great layout and functionality of the kitchen and how it will allow them to host and entertain as many as they want. Although this may be a need, feature and benefit that gets some customers excited, it’s not going to get the customer that cares most about a big back yard excited. But, if you talked about how amazing the back yard is, and all the things they could do out there, it would have a much bigger impact. This is why knowing the customer’s specific needs is so important.
Being able to sell is critical in virtually all businesses. Even if you have a great product with great features, the key to selling is being able to pull out a customer’s needs. By learning what’s most important to them, you can help them solve their problems, and show them the features and benefits that are most important to them. This will lead to more sales and more customers that are truly excited to buy what you’re selling.
Launch365 specializes in training, coaching and mentoring entrepreneurs through business startup and on core business skills. We provide training and coaching on selling, including finding needs and pitching using features and benefits. If you would like to discuss how we could help you with your business or on these skills, contact us at: www.launch365.ca/contact-us. To download our guide to starting a business successfully “Startup Success Blueprint” for free go to: www.launch365.ca/startup-success.