What do clients really want?

Terry Mullins (pictured), founder of sales consultancy business The Reluctant Salesman explores what clients really want from dealers and suppliers

Selling is simple. It’s simple because there are four steps that must be taken in order to make a sale and they never alter.

First, you find someone interested in what you have, then you show it to them and suggest why they might want it, and finally you tell them the cost and ask if they want some. Simple.

So why does it often seem so difficult?

There are a number of reasons why selling can seem difficult, but for now I want to focus on just one, and that is the misreading of our client’s intentions. If I asked you what a potential kitchen or bathroom customer was looking for, you’d probably come up with a fairly predictable list: design, range, high quality and, of course, the best possible price, but is that really what brought them to you?

If that were true, then when a potential client comes into your showroom, you’d need to do some proper ‘selling’ to persuade them that you have great design, high quality and represent real value for money. This view of clients leads us to anticipate resistance and traditional selling is really all about overcoming that resistance, using whatever sales skills, charm or persistence we can muster.

A few years ago, I came up with something I called ‘the old and the new sales paradigm’. I compared the way we had always seen the sales process with what I saw as what was really going on, it all came from one simple realisation: we love to buy, but we hate to be sold to.

When a potential client comes into your studio, their overriding goal is to place the order, as they have demonstrated by the simple act of showing up. They want to feel good about it and they want to get it right, but ultimately they want to get it done.

Think about that for a moment. Their goal is the same as your goal, but have you ever related to them like that? They don’t need persuading to place an order, they just need help to do so. Persuasion is selling, you don’t enjoy it and they hate it. Facilitation on the other hand is just helping them to do something they already want to do.

Selling requires techniques, closes, buying signals, rapport building, persistence and lots of other difficult stuff that we don’t necessarily have the inclination, or the temperament, to take on. Facilitation requires only a few simple processes and the freedom to implement them.

All of the successful sales people I’ve ever met understood instinctively that clients and salespeople were all on the same side and that any resistance on the part of the client was to being ‘sold’ to and not to buying, paradoxically they had realised that they sold more when they stopped selling.

You don’t have to be a born salesperson to gain mastery of this approach, and I look forward to sharing some simple processes with you that I know will immediately increase your sales.

Until then give your clients a break, they really are on your side.

• Terry Mullins has worked in sales for over 20 years. He has been among the top sales people in every company he has ever worked with.


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