Jennifer Darling: Think you know what your customers want? |

Jennifer Darling: Think you know what your customers want?

Jennifer Darling

Ask a salesperson why you should buy a product, and you’ll likely get an answer explaining the many features it has. Ask a great salesperson the same question, and he or she will tell you the value of what the product has to offer you. The difference is significant. How does a salesperson go from OK to great? They understand why the customer buys. Keep reading for tips on how to get there.

Many companies offer two types of training for new salespeople, product (service) and process. Product sales training teaches you every aspect of the available features in your portfolio. When I worked in advertising, these products were the television shows I could insert a customer’s commercial into or the digital products where a display advertisement could go. Process training includes teaching the sales rep how the company software works. Depending on the industry you are in, the training can be simple or complex. Both types of training are important to help you do your job.

The third type of training, which many companies fail to offer, is soft skills training. Soft skills include communication, listening, planning, persuading, negotiating, presenting, attitude, and interpersonal skills. These skills are essential to becoming a great salesperson. Arguably, training in soft skills is the most valuable type of training a salesperson can receive, yet so few companies offer it. What do great salespeople do? They get it on their own.

When salespeople learn soft skills, they tend to move beyond selling to understanding the motivation behind why customers buy. Instead of presenting features and benefits, they will emphasize the value for the customer. Now, they’re speaking the customer’s language! The best way to do this is to interview your customers to find out what’s important to them. Seems simple, right? Yet, most salespeople don’t do this. Instead, they make assumptions that are often wrong.

Start the customer interview process by letting your customer know this is not a sales pitch, but a conversation that will help you understand his or her needs better to serve them at a higher level. Make a list of 10-12 questions you can ask them that get them thinking in new ways. Here are seven questions you might include:

Why do you buy from us?

Think of your best sales rep, what qualities does this person have that you value?

What problems did you have before you started working with me?

How have I helped you solve them?

How soon did you start seeing results?

What do I offer you that’s different from other vendors?

What do I offer you that’s the same?

Once you completed the interview, ask yourself a few questions:

Why do you believe in your product?

Why do you believe in your company?

Why do you believe in yourself?

If you want to really go deep, ask yourself if you would buy from you, and why or why not?

When you uncover the answers to why your customers buy and why you believe in yourself, then you can go from offering features and benefits to providing value to your clients. This shift will catapult you from good to great!

Jennifer Darling is a business growth coach with a master’s degree in management and a bachelor’s degree in advertising. She is a Jeffrey Gitomer Certified Advisor who coaches people and corporations in the areas of personal development, sales, marketing, leadership, and effective communications. Visit her website at Darling Darling will talk about the importance of LinkedIn at the 2017 Sierra Sales Summit on Nov. 17. In a world of social media, sales professionals need LinkedIn to showcase their skills and build value for themselves to future customers. Get tickets and learn more at Use the code “NEVADAAPPEAL” to get 15 percent off.