2. Before Proceeding

RESEARCH - CUSTOMERS – Know the Customers for your products/services

What is a Customer?
A customer is someone or an organisation that buys goods and services you have for sale. Not long ago, customers were all pretty much the same. Most were males over 30 with families to support. Salespeople fell into the same class. It meant buyers were comfortable dealing with these salespeople and they trusted their guidance.

Things have changed dramatically over the last few decades. Men no longer predominantly do the buying. Women now make the important buying decisions for the family. Unfortunately, women are still treated as inferior by some salespeople.

Another strong group today are the younger buyers. The young people’s market is huge because of their high earnings. Because they do not have families to support they have substantial discretionary dollars available for purchases.

Sometimes younger buyers feel salespeople do not take them seriously, but any business catering to the specific requirements of the younger age group will find a profitable market. Buyers today are more knowledgeable about available products and are better informed on the benefits and pitfalls of various products.

To make a sale today, you need to show the benefits rather than just talking about them. Once your customers are convinced that you are honest and what you say is what they get, they will trust you with their money.

What do Customers Want From You?
Every customer reacts to the sales situation in a different way.

However, most of them fall into one of 4 categories:

  • They are decisive.
  • They are inquisitive.
  • They are rational.
  • They are expressive.

Once you know each customer’s behaviour style, you can effectively meet his/her needs and close the deal.

  • Decisive customers are typically more forceful and assertive. They know what they want and they don’t want to waste time.

  • Inquisitive customers are full of questions and want to know all the facts. They are generally formal and come off as distant, which can discourage the inexperienced salesperson.

  • Rational customers are generally the easiest people to work with. They ask questions and avoid conflict. They are a lot more relaxed in negotiations. They are friendly, but not stupid. If you try to “put one over them”, they spot it straight away. 

  • Expressive customers can always be remembered. They are enthusiastic, animated and usually have a positive attitude. They take time to make a final decision and to win them over you need to focus outside the product itself. You should tell them about the satisfaction you or others have achieved from the products.

7 Questions to Meet Before a Customer Will Buy

Customers will buy from you because they expect something of valuable. They will be prepared to outlay hard earned money to purchase. You need to assure them that they were getting value for their money. Most buyers won’t buy from you until certain questions have been clarified in their own minds.

These are:

  1. What’s in it for me?
  2. How fast can I get it?
  3. What if I don’t like what I’m buying?
  4. What exactly is the proposal or the product going to do?
  5. Why should I believe this salesperson?
  6. Is this buying decision going to be a good one for me?
  7. How do I actually get it?

Its About Satisfying Customers

Once you have identified an opportunity in the marketplace, focus on the needs of customers and see how you can meet that need. If competitors are already in the marketplace you will have to come up with a better way to satisfy customers than your competitors.

Matching your customers’ needs and expectations requires answers to  the following questions.

These are:

  • Who are the buyers? Find out who makes the decision to buy.
  • What do they buy? Find out which products they are interested in.
  • When do they buy? Some markets are seasonal. Find out the best time to launch your products on to the market.
  • How do they make decisions? Try and find out how customers arrive at their final buying decisions. There is a lot of consumer behaviour data available, but it may be that a survey is necessary to answer this question.

Get into Your Customers’ Shoes

Understanding what excites and motivates your customers to buy is important. Having this information gives you a competitive edge. Your customer is the main reason for your being in business, so if they are dissatisfied, they are not going to “stick around”.

Keep them happy. Find out specifically what they want. This means you have to understand what they want and then assess why they may want to buy your particular product or service rather than someone else’s. Once you know this, focus on ways to conclude a deal and hopefully give them a satisfying buying experience.

Here are some ways to assess your potential customers. All simply involve putting yourself into your customer’s shoes:

  1. Offer a solution: Know clearly what stimulates your customer to buy then take that information and turn it to your advantage.

  2. Convenience: Find out ways to make buying your products convenient.

  3. Customer service: Ensure that your customer service is second to none.

  4. Help your customers return: Provide good customer service, good products and encourage your customers to be loyal.

  5. Appearance: Make sure your business image is professional and welcoming so your customers will return, because they feel comfortable with you.

How to Find More Customers

One of the hardest things, when starting a business, is how to find customers. You may have a great product or service, but if you cannot find people interested in buying from you, you won’t have your business for long.

Here are some suggestions to help you find customers:

  1. Network - Work your personal network: Ask your friends and associates about people who may be able to use your products or services.

  2. Competition - Check out your competition: Find out how your competitors operate and copy them if they are successful.

  3. Give - Promise a little and give a lot: Give away free samples of your products and ask for feedback. If you are a professional, give away some free advice, or produce a newsletter.

  4. Newspapers - Check out your newspapers. Newspapers are an important source of contact information and potential leads.

  5. Plan - Put together a plan: Depending on the type of business you are running, put together a plan to target and obtain the type of customers you are after.

  6. Events - Check out events: If there is an event happening in your area, contact the organisers and see if you can give away your products or provide a service as a prize. People will then get to know about your business.

  7. Follow Up - Always do follow-up: When meeting people, make sure you follow them up because they are potential prospects. Even if they don’t want to buy your product or require your services, ask them for referrals to others who could use what you have to offer.

Always Exceed Your Customer’s Expectations

Have you ever had a client or customer who would never consider using another firm to buy your type of products or use your type of services? This attitude has probably come about because you have taken the time to nurture and cultivate a business relationship with them. We all know that exceptional customer service makes us want to do business with that company or person again. On top of that, we are happy to refer their products and services to others.

There is nothing like a satisfied client’s recommendation. They say that satisfied clients and customers tell an average of 3 – 5 people, while unsatisfied clients simply don’t return and they tell at least 10 other people about their dissatisfaction. Try and make your customers work for you and not against you.

Why do clients choose not to return? Statistics show that nearly 70% of customers quit doing business because they encounter an attitude of indifference. This shows that it doesn’t take much to keep clients happy.

All that a business owner has to do is exceed their expectations a little and they will be well ahead of any competition.

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