Have you ever walked into a store looking for a specific product, when the sales rep bombards you with information overdose on the entire store? Instead of asking questions, you get a sales rep spitting out an infomercial, before even asking about your needs. From a customer vantage point, this is frustrating and wasteful time. Maybe you’ve attended a networking event, when overzealous reps introduces themselves, and proceed right into their product and sales pitch, instead of engaging in two-way conversation (insert rolling eye emoji here). Unfortunately, this scenario is all too familiar in conversational environments. Human nature tells us that trust is built on sincerity. In any conversation, asking the other person questions about themselves shows interest, encourages open dialogue, and creates a comfort level. A comfortable person is a trusting person, whether on a first date, at work, church, etc. Imagine then, the importance of trust in a sales environment?
It’s absolutely vital.
Customers walk into a sales environment with their guards up and trust on low. No one wants to feel ‘sold’ or talked into any purchase. Customers want their questions and concerns answered. Customers want the most confidence in their purchase. Questions are the most essential piece of building the trust which turns into confidence.
According to The Brevet Group, “Only 13% of customers believe a sales person can understand their needs.” These questions were based on all consumer industries, not just cannabis. I am sure we can all think of experiences with good and bad sales reps. Most likely, the main difference between good and bad experiences is simply trust. As a customer, the comfort level you feel with a sales-person probably came down to how much your trusted him or her, that they cared about your needs and felt they had your best interest at heart. So how do you get that connection?
Some People are Natural Connecters.
Many insist the ability to connect and build trust with people and customers is a natural talent. While this is true to an extent, conversational skill and trust building can be developed with proper training and practice. While certain traits like articulation and charisma are easily noticed during the hiring process, it’s important to remember that almost any personality type is capable of building trust and a healthy human connection. Customers come in all personality types, and some mix and match better than others. But everyone appreciates sincerity. This is where training is essential in the business of ‘people’.
If a potential employee has sufficient product knowledge, and appreciation for the industry, they likely have infinite potential to connect with customers. And while the outgoing personality types often seem like a perfect sales fit, it’s imperative they show a willingness to listen and learn new sales concepts. No matter the resume or prior track record of sales success, every employee must be willing to adapt, listen, and learn new methods.
Not all customers are outgoing and talkative. The Cannabis industry is still a novel concept. Misinformation is prevalent in the public, which means the average customer might walk in with questions far beyond certain products. This is where trust and confidence is most vital, and proper questioning techniques are more important than natural charm. Customers don’t want smooth talk, they want concerns cleared up and 100% comfort. A sales rep may be outgoing and connect with others like themselves, but can they efficiently gain trust with different personality types? Can they demonstrate genuine concern for customer needs while uncovering questions and concerns? According to the statistics above, most sales reps do not actually know how to the meet the customers’ needs.
Understand the Customer First
One of the best selling and highly regarded self help books of all time is titled “The 7 habits of Highly Effective People.” The fifth ‘habit’ focuses on improving relationships in all aspects of life, including business. This chapter (or habit) is titled,” Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Author Stephen R. Covey explains the natural tendency and need for humans to be understood. Simply put, when others take the time and effort to understand our deepest needs and concerns, we feel appreciated and important. Often to the point where once vital discussion points or arguments almost become secondary. The same principle applies in all relationships, and especially with customers. When customers feel as if they matter, the product details and pricing concerns aren’t as essential.
This is where most people in sales fail as we tend to get so caught up in the product(s) we are selling that we forget to ask questions and get to know the customer first. It’s an easy but dangerous habit to go right into product info, costs, and related details. But this is also the most effective way to keep the customer disconnected and defensive. Is the product or products you just described the best option for the customers’ needs?
You don’t really know. Because you never asked. This often turns the customer off from the sales rep. There is no trust, so the customer is not comfortable opening up. They may still purchase the smallest amount of product possible. They also may never return to your store. Training your sales reps to learn how to ask the right questions and really put the customer first is crucial for the long term success and growth of your company.
Upselling Effectively and Consistently
When a rep struggles with up selling, it’s often because genuine trust was never built. Up selling is a great way to increase sales. But the up sell is often determined long before other suggested products are even mentioned. If that trust is established through proper questioning and sincere conversation from the outset, the chances of up-sell are significantly increased. It feels like a natural extension of the conversation, as opposed to pushy sales tactics. Remember, when a customer feels that a rep is showing genuine concern for their needs and interests, trust opens up. And a trusting customer is a paying customer.
This all goes back to proper questioning, and demonstrating a sincere understanding of needs, wants, and concerns.
Training and developing your sales team properly can yield huge results. MJ Hybrid Solutions can help set your team up for success. Our training program has helped many companies increase their sales, customer loyalty and overall employee engagement to ensure success and long term growth. Invest in your team today!