*Are Today’s Customers Their Own Worst Enemy?

Leary Senior Customer
Are today's customers their own worst enemy?

Recently Peak Performance MS was given the opportunity to shop more than 300 senior living competitors.  The goal was to gather detailed information about each competitor and compile a comparative report. What we found was that In general, the sales people we encountered did not have the confidence, skills or training to turn the shoppers questions around and make the shopping experience valuable for the shopper.

When confronted with a poor sales person, the customer is their own worst enemy.  The typical customer process creates a frustrating experience for both the customer and the sales person.  The “customer shopping dilemma” is that most shoppers start the shopping process with the idea that they need to take control of the shopping process by asking questions and yet customers also find that interacting with a sales person who talks to much as frustrating and a poor use of their time. Sales people who answer the customer’s initial questions without first gaining control of the conversation, building trust with the customer , discovering real urgency and making clear recommendations have trouble differentiating themselves and their communities from the competition and are seen as incompetent and unprofessional .

In our study, the shoppers prepared for their calls with detailed scenarios and information. In all but a few cases, the shoppers were able to gather all the detailed information required without ever providing more than just a brief overview of their customer situation and very little, if any contact information.

Unfortunately, today’s customers are their own worst enemy.  With access to gobs of information at their finger tips, customers are relatively educated and are accustomed to taking the lead in the sales process.  At the same time sales people are all to willing to answer the customers questions with lengthy generic information.  Unfortunately this process puts a huge burden on the customer to identify what they don’t know. An example of this would be me trying to install a trailer hitch on my car for the first time.  I can certainly go online and learn how to do it and then start the process.  However it will probably take much longer and be more frustrating than if I first got the advice of a professional that had the experience of completing the same process hundreds of times.

What customers find as extremely valuable is a sales professional that is compassionate and confident and has the skills to address their questions by asking questions and listening to the answers.  What the customer really want is to get the information, experience and advice from a trusted professional who can help them save time and make the right decision. Customers want a professional that will help them share needed personal information, prioritize the options, present an appropriate solution and encourage the customer to take the next appropriate step.

Often all that is required to help a sales person master a new process is to improve in their understanding of the goal, their knowledge of best practices and their skill in asking and answering the right questions.  I have attached a proven sales script we call the ValueMatch plus Value Drill.

The Value Drill is an easy to learn sales process which uses sales questions specifically designed to put the sales person back in control of the sales conversation even when the customer wants to take the conversation in the wrong direction.  The Value Drill allows the sales person to have the confidence and skill to effectively build trust, discover real urgency and present a personalized and compelling request for the customer to take the next step in the process.   Click Here to get a copy to review.

In addition to the Value Drill here are some additional Hints you and your sales team can practice.

  • Be present and in control. Taking control of the sales conversation will help ensure that you and the prospect get what you need to make the interaction a positive experience.
    • Expect the customer to ask questions.  Have the courage to turn the conversation around and get in control.
    • Be ready with your questions and as soon as you create the opportunity, ask and listen. 
    • Have a script. It is important to have a “go to” process that you are comfortable with to help you transition from answering to asking questions. Here is mine. “Oh, Mrs. Geller, I understand that you want to get the prices before we get too far in our conversation. I would be happy to get the prices for you. In order to provide the right information, can I ask a couple of questions and gather some basic information so I can tailor the information to meet your needs?”
  • Be interested in and relate with the answers given by the prospect. The process of active listening is the single most powerful way to build trust and rapport in a relationship and helps to establish the basis from which the sale can be nurtured and eventually succeed.
    • Leave distractions at the door so you can completely focus on the person in front of you. My secret for this is to take notes. It has been said that a short pencil will beat a good memory every time and it’s harder to be distracted when you’re taking good, legible notes.
    • Read your notes and repeat what is shared immediately after the prospect finishes a thought. Repeating what is shared demonstrates respect and has the added benefit of helping the prospect clarify and organize what is on their mind and it helps the sales person stay on the customers agenda.
    • Be curious and interested in what is shared by the prospect. Ask questions and clarify the prospect’s comments to help focus the conversation on the most important ideas and issues. Most of all, show some empathy when appropriate. Some of you may need to look up this word in Webster’s.
  • Be focused and avoid sharing a generic, un-tailored presentation. Sharing information the prospect did not ask for and does not need is a sure way to put the sale at risk.
    • Sales people should always take a minute after they have asked each question to listen to the information provided, clarify what has been shared and prioritize the needs and interests of the prospect.
    • Sales people should make an effort to differentiate items or points of interest that are on the high priority list for the prospect and if possible share how their community sets itself apart in those areas.
    • Sales people should always share and confirm with the prospect a proposed presentation outline and confirm that the information and time needed to review these areas will work for the prospect’s expectations.
    • A presentation has the highest positive response when the prospect talks 80% of the time and the sales person talks 20%. Sales people should remember that the best presentation is still heavily focused on asking questions and listening. One of my rules is, “whenever you normally stop and talk, ask a question.”

I am happy to share more ideas on these topics. If you are interested you can check out our website, www.Peak PerformanceMS.com or reach out to me at wnowell@peakperformancems.com or call me directly on my cell :(602)-284-0124

Will Nowell is the President of Peak Performance MS and ValueMatch+ selling.  Peak Performance Mystery Shopping is a premier provider of mystery shopping services.  Will is the author of the best-selling book, ValueMatch selling.  Will is available to speak to your group on a variety of sales and sales management topics and can provide sales training, coaching, and consulting in all facets of the housing and senior living space.

William Nowell

by William Nowell