How to give your customers what they want

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There’s an old joke that goes: a client asks a sales rep “what time is it?” The sales guy thinks and then replies, “what time would you like it to be?” It’s a little ridiculous, perhaps, but it highlights a vital aspect of your business: identifying and then giving your customers exactly what they want.

Why is this so important? Well, if you give your customers what they really want, you will benefit immeasurably. You will gain repeat sales with them. They’ll refer you to their contacts, and they will be happy to act as reference sites and case studies, thus making other sales potentially easy and successful. In all, it’s a pretty compelling case!

If you think that this is easier said than done, you need to follow five straight-forward steps.

1. Ask the right questions

You may think that great sales people have the ‘gift of the gab’. In reality, great sales people ask great questions and listen very carefully. Unless you understand what your customer really wants, how on earth can you provide it?

This needn’t be a particularly difficult or awkward process. Some of the best questions you can ask, include:

• how will you use this purchase?
• what do you hope it will give you?
• what’s most important about it?
• is there anything you already know is totally un-important to you?
• how much would you like to spend?

The answers to these questions will form the basis of the rest of the process.

2. Verify your understanding

It’s amazing how many times we listen carefully to someone and still managed to mis-understand. The trouble is, even a simple mis-understanding can lead to problems. To avoid them, summarise what you have heard, emphasising what the customer has told you is most important.

3. Demonstrate your offering

Having understood your customers’ requirements, and described the options, it’s time for you to demonstrate as closely as possible the products and services that you provide. The more that clients can ‘touch and feel’ what you’re offering, the less chance there is that they will be disappointed with their purchase.

4. Give reference sites and case studies

Most people view sales people with a certain amount of cynicism. There are plenty of unethical sales people who have caused this. However, you are interested in genuinely giving people what they want so that you can enjoy the benefits of repeat business.

Therefore, it’s helpful for you to be able to support your claims of great quality and service from other clients who have experienced it. Encourage your clients to hold off from making a decision until they have spoken to some of your other clients to verify what you’re telling and showing them. This confidence in your products and services alone will impress your customers.

5. Check-in

If your new customer purchases your products, is it time to celebrate? Yes, But it’s also time to make a note in the diary to check in with them regularly. Use this check-in to gather essential information, by asking:

• are you happy with your purchase?
• does it give you what you expected and hoped for?
• if not, what is it lacking?

Don’t be afraid of negative feedback. All problems can be solved and if you resolve your clients’ problems, they are likely to be even more loyal. Any negative feedback will also give you an insight into what others are experiencing and why they are not buying more from you or referring you.

Knowing what your customers want is a business basic, but knowing how to give them what they want takes a more sophisticated skill. What’s more, you need to know your own company well and bring these two ideas together. As web marketing expert, Kevin Stirtz agrees, “know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet”.

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