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Top Secrets to Selling Persuasion, Part 2

Updated on March 20, 2011

1. What are customers evaluating when they visit my business?

Customers only say what they want you to know about their needs and desires. Their evaluating criteria the things that drive their decision often remain hidden. They may talk about your product mix, your services, or the hours of availability. But truly knowing how customers evaluate your establishment is first and foremost. Watch for their actions to see if they align with what they are openly discussing. What questions do they ask? Do they observe the display area from inside or outside? Watch what they do before and after you meet with them. Are they observing your staff's behavior? These all indicate that a customer is looking for much more than a few checkboxes in their evaluation. Keep a running list of all the areas to be considered.

2. What is the customer's ideal business to frequent?

What are the qualities and characteristics that make up the ideal in a small business? Using the evaluation list in the previous question, summarize all of the rational and emotional factors a customer uses in their evaluation. Try to keep no more than four to five key factors to describe a customer's ideal. For example, good examples of groups are facilities, staff, security and trust. Explore with each customer the pros and cons of each factor. Ask them to tell you what is a need versus a want. Make sure that they, as well as you, are clear on how they are evaluating the suitability of your business to their needs.

3. How well does my business meet their ideal?

Make sure you are in alignment with the customer's thinking about their ideal. I caution you though to only make promises that you can keep. Satisfaction is a customer's initial expectations minus your business's performance. It is a comparison of two data points over time rather than a single emotional rating. Set realistic expectations in customers and deliver on what you promise that's really all any buyer can ask.

4. What makes a great customer?

Market leaders today recognize the importance of finding, winning and keeping the best customers. Typically, they are the easiest to satisfy and simplest to maintain over a long period of time. Think of your best customers today and write down what makes them that way. Determine how you can easily identify them during the sales and buying process. And when you find one, do whatever you can to earn their business. While some customers allow your business to continue to grow and flourish, others can be highly detrimental to your success.

5. How do customers want to be approached?

Knowing what makes up a "best customer" is critical to success, but only if you are able to convert a customer into a loyal customer. Keep in mind that most customers desire a unique experience at least from their perspective in order to render a decision. This does not imply that unique features or functions are necessary to meet their needs. In fact, often quite the opposite is more true. Each customer's desires and needs may require that different information be provided to make a final decision.

6. Where do I find the time?

Business owners from Wall Street to Ma and Pa stores cannot continue doing the same thing and expect different results. There is no doubt that this all takes time, but what is a better use of your time than to try to attract the "best customers" and make your life simpler?

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