Tim Huffaker 2017Salespeople should take the opportunity occasionally to view a sales transaction from the buyer’s point of view.  

The best way to do this is to pay attention to those times when you are the buyer. If you don’t have that opportunity in a business-to-business transaction, you surely can do it as a retail consumer.  As you literally stand in the shoes of a buyer, ponder this question to yourself. “What do I want most from this salesperson in order to make this my best buying experience ever?” I’ve identified a list of ten items I believe to be universally desired by typical buyers.  This list is not comprehensive by any means, but it should provide some provocative thought, which I hope will give rise to an expansion of your sales skills.

  1. Trust:  The foundation of trust can be found in one’s motive.  From the moment you first set your eyes on the salesperson, you are searching for evidence of trust.  A buyer wants to know the unqualified truth about the products or services they are considering to purchase.  One of the greatest compliments I have ever been paid as a salesperson is when the buyer expresses their belief that I am trustworthy in my words and deeds.
  2. The opportunity to purchase, rather than being sold:  This is the same argument as “push versus pull”.  Have you ever tried to push a string? Automobile manufacturers figured it out years ago.  A car has better pulling power with front-wheel drive than with the conventional rear-wheel drive.  Assist the buyer in making the right decision and help them fulfill their needs. Become their buying assistant, not their decision maker.
  3. Empathy: Open your mind to diverse points of view.  Think as if you are the buyer and step into their world.  Treat the buyer the way you would want to be treated. Look at their situation as if it were your own.  How would you solve the problem and how would you spend your money?
  4. Simplicity:  Life is replete with complications and details.  Facilitate a painless and enjoyable purchasing experience.  My brother is a dentist and he not only claims to practice “painless dentistry” but he does.  He has patients that travel long distances to take advantage of his services. Why? Because the experience is painless and people who buy, as well as people who go to the dentist, want to avoid pain.  Make sales simple and painless.
  5. A listening ear:  People are constantly spoken to but seldom listened to.  For a totally fresh approach, ask discerning questions that will inspire the buyer to speak.  Truly listen to what they are saying. Listen to their body movements, facial expressions, gestures, eyes and their words.  It is amazing what you will hear when you don’t rely solely on your ears.
  6. Show me, don’t just tell me:  I was at a local hardware store recently, looking for one of those “hard-to-find” home repair items.  I asked one of the department supervisors where I could find a particular item. Even though it was not in his department, he not only walked me to the particular isle, but also found it on the shelf and handed it to me.  He then inquired of my familiarity with the product and when he sensed that I was in uncharted waters, explained how to complete the installation.
  7. Make them feel comfortable:  Most buyers not only anticipate, but also expect stress when they are purchasing.  Create an atmosphere that will not only surprise the buyer, but gratify them as well.  Customers are naturally drawn to peace and comfort.
  8. No fast-talking BS:  This point is from my wife.  Remember, she doesn’t particularly like salespeople.  Keep it calm and keep it straight. If you don’t know the answer, admit it and then find the answer.  It is ok if you don’t know, but it is not ok to fake it. Once you lose their trust you will never regain it, this applies not only to the salesperson, but also to the company they represent.
  9. Call them by name:  In kindergarten we were all warned about name-calling.  In sales, that is precisely what we want to do. Introduce yourself and then ask the name of the prospective buyer.  Don’t forget it, and use it often enough for them to know you remember their name. Calling people by their name promotes comfort and builds trust.
  10. Diagnose the problem first, before you present a solution:  Get to the root of the problem or need.  Don’t just accept their conclusion. Make sure you understand before you make recommendations.  You are a consultant working for the buyer. Your whole purpose is to serve them by presenting the most correct solutions to their needs.