The impression that you make is as important as the impression that a new customer makes, expect for one difference; you have everything to gain by making a favourable impression, whereas the customer’s impression tactics come from a totally different world.
The sales process starts off from polar opposite ends.
You have a product or service that you need to sell. Your selling process needs to focus on convincing that your product or service is the best value product in the market and that the customer does not need to shop around – especially if what you offer is a commodity. And you need to do this whilst still covering costs and maintaining margins.
The customer needs to acquire goods or services for the best possible value. Note here that I have purposely avoided the use of price and instead substituted value. Value to a customer might come down to price, but it could also be the total cost of ownership including after sales service, the sales rapport process, and the convenience the good or service offers, especially if new needs have been identified during the sales (with maybe an up-selling component) process.
So how can preconceptions assist the sales process for both the retailer and the consumer.
Consumers look for different cues when deciding on which vendor to use. The analysis process could include some or all of the following points:
Am I buying a commodity or more specialised goods and/or services?
Is the acquisition process simple?
Is it important to handle/see the goods and/or service?
What sort of feedback is available from others that have used these goods and/or services?
What happens when something goes wrong?
What happens if I see this for less next week?
What after-sales support options are available?
The vendors sales process needs to identify what the consumer wants/needs and to determine what are the important influencing points for the consumer. If the vendor is able to identify and satisfy these points then they have a sale. If they are not, then the sales process has fallen or, at the very best, still needs work.
The hurdle for the vendor is that any of these purchase points cannot be immediately determined in the limited time available to deliver the sales pitch, so there are some assumptions that need to be made. Assume right and you can wrap up the deal. Assume wrong, and say goodbye to that commission.
Assumptions, however, need not be uninformed. The use of generalised probing questions will steer the vendor towards the consumer’s probable position based on Law of Averages. Using this methodology will allow you to make some assumptions based on your previous experience with similar answers – this is the basis of a preconception.
Is it always right? No.
Is it an exact science? No.
Can it lose you sales? Yes
The above tells us that a preconceived point of view is unlikely to be effective, although when you guess right, you will be on a winner. The problem really is that we may automatically and subconsciously apply preconceived ideas about consumers during the sales process. Because it happens subconsciously our real sales training is not to develop the probing questions, but training ourselves to develop an internal process where we can lose the preconception methodology that subconsciously takes over the sales thinking process.