I once had a customer who was a bit of a maverick in his marketplace and in the industry. He has since passed away, but Chuck Forcey was a character. When he was in the military, he flew planes and was on an elite fighter team…and he brought his irreverent ways with him.
Fortunately, he had a commander who was tougher and more focused than Chuck was and while he respected and appreciated what Chuck brought to the team, he refused to let the team be defined by one of its members. To address a particularly aberrant behavior, the commander pulled Chuck aside and told him: “You are a valued member of this team…and you will have a place on this team as long as your contribution exceeds your aggravation…and not a moment longer.” I LOVE that measure of relationships … and don’t we all use something like that, even if it’s not as clearly stated? Think about it as you evaluate design project clients, hire new associates, work for rogue employers…and maybe closer to home, too.
In a recent coaching call I was startled by the simple articulation of how one of the salespeople/designers viewed people who say that they are “Just browsing” and those people she’s been unable to connect with: “I think they are killing time and wasting mine.” Wow. I asked her to explain more about this…and it was more about her perspective, which unknown to her, was furthering her inability to connect with incoming customers.
Consider this: what do you think it takes for someone to get dressed, get in their car, and come to your showroom….instead of staying on the sofa, warm and maybe a pet or two on their lap, on their computer shopping for furniture? Do you really think that anyone would physically shop for furniture unless they absolutely had to?
How we SEE the customer isn’t about them…it’s about US. Our perspective of the customer says more about us than it does about them since WE made it up! If you want better connections with people, change YOUR mind about them and be engaging, inquisitive, helpful, friendly. When customers cross the threshold, their job ends and your job begins.
And if you are STILL struggling with your perspective or actions, call me. We can work this out.
In keeping with the lifelong practice of asking questions is my lifelong practice of talking about them. Imagine a conversation where YOU really drive the exchange by completing EVERY response you have with a question. Think about it. Even if you answer a question posed by the other person, you keep the volley going with a question of your own. You: “Lobster is my favorite food…what’s yours?”
One of the more challenging types of questions is Commitment Questions – asking for a commitment from the other person so that occurs as a benefit to them.
Jim Grady was a partner and collaborator of mine for years and he was/is a terrific salesperson. Early in his career, he had the good fortune of working with a top real estate agent. Jim asked him what made him so successful and the response was “I always ask for a commitment”. When he would show a property, he would ask the prospect “Do you like this?” And if they said yes, he would ask “Do you want to make an offer?” Then he would manage their response.
Look at your selling strategy. Are you intending to ask for a commitment from the prospect – either the sale today or an appointment to make a sale tomorrow? Do you really know where the prospect is in their buying process and what they are ABLE to do now? Do you need to ask more Discovery Questions?
It’s all research and practice. Keep asking questions…all kinds of questions. And if you need help, ask for it.