Salespersons must be communications experts. Salespersons and customers are all members of the same “wants and needs satisfying team.” Customers need or want some service or floral product your firm offers, and as a salesperson you want to supply the customer with the store’s merchandise. Open communication between salespersons and customers helps all members of the team reach their goals.
Learning to Listen
Customers have the jump on you in one important respect – they know what they want or what they need. Use questions to discover these wants and needs. Try to narrow the facts by restating what you understand their needs to be in your own words. As you ask questions, listen carefully to the customer’s responses for clues about what their needs are.
A large part of selling involves listening carefully to customer’s hidden messages. Salespeople need to tune into the message behind the customer’s words. Often customers’ objections to buying the product are really questions about how the product will perform or requests for more information. For instance, a customer saying “but I don’t like the color” may really be asking, “Do you have this flower in any other colors?”
Listening with Your Body
Successful salespeople have learned that being a good listener means listening not only with their ears but rather with their whole body. They use simple techniques such as leaning slightly towards the customer to show interest in the customer’s situation. Although people don’t realize it consciously, they respond differently to various body positions.
Likewise, your customer’s actions can tell you even more than they are willing to tell you verbally. Drumming fingers on countertops, impatient toe-tapping, shifting packages from one arm to another and pursed lips all indicate impatience. A customer who says, “No, I don’t mind waiting” but taps her foot deserves immediate attention because although she won’t admit it verbally, physically she’s telling you that her time is important and that she feels she deserves immediate service.
Just as you listen with your whole body, you talk with it, too. For example, a salesperson who stands too close, within the 18-inch personal space boundary, will intimidate some customers and make most people feel uneasy. Salespeople who gaze over their customers’ shoulders instead of looking them in the eye are saying that the customer is not worth listening to and that they wish the customer would hurry up and stop wasting their time.
- Listen for the message behind the words
- Be aware of customer’s body language
Communicating as a salesperson over the telephone requires some special skills. You must depend on your voice to convey that you are interested in the customer and are eager to help. You must rely on your customer’s voice to help you focus on his immediate needs and to indicate his future potential problems.
First of all, answer the telephone promptly. Secondly, answer politely, then put a smile in your voice, speak clearly and personalize the conversation by using the customer’s name.
If, for some reason, you must delay answering the caller’s question or need to transfer them to another department, explain what you are doing, why and how long it will take. What may seem like seconds to you may seem like hours to the person waiting on the other end of the phone. In some cases, when you aren’t sure what action to take, ask customers if they would rather you called them back later with a complete answer to the question.
- Answer telephones promptly and politely
- Put a smile in your voice
- Speak clearly
- Personalize the conversation