All posts by Brian Marriott

Uncover Your Customer’s Needs

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By:  Brian Marriott, P1 Learning

Sales opportunities don’t just spring up out of thin air. You have to uncover them. If you aren’t prepared to ask the right questions, they could be precious opportunities lost.

Finding the problem will lead you to the best solution for your client. Here are four important reminders when uncovering leads.

1. Build trust and rapport
Nobody likes to be interrogated with questions; it can make them uncomfortable – or even worse- defensive. Start the meeting casually, as if you were meeting with friends, but don’t be overly familiar or waste their time. People like doing business with people they know, like and trust. Let the prospect know the purpose of your questions – they should see that you’re trying to genuinely understand their business and determine if there’s a solution that your company can offer.

2. Ask the right questions at the right time
Have a list of questions prepared before the meeting, but don’t be a slave to your script. Their answers to your questions will likely bring up follow-up questions. By being prepared in advance, you can shift the conversation in the direction that will uncover their true need. Remember to always ask open-ended questions (who, what, when, where, why, how). Questions that can be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ won’t necessarily get you the information you need – you don’t want to limit their ability to answer in any way. Take notes, it’s a sign that you’re truly interested and engaged.

3. Dig deeper
Once you’ve uncovered areas of opportunity, continue to ask questions, repeating some of the words that they’ve used to show that you are listening and understand what they are really saying. Delve into the opportunity and continue to ask open-ended questions. In fact, remember to Always Ask Why (AAW). If your customer is opening up about their biggest challenges, don’t be afraid to follow up with something like, “why is that?”, “why has this not been fixed already?”, or “why is this a priority now?”. The more they talk, the more you’ll learn.

4. Summarize and set the stage
Once you’ve uncovered the opportunity, state it to your prospect clearly – again, trying to use as many of their words as possible. Confirm that you ‘got it right’ and then suggest how you could help solve this problem. Most often than not it’s okay if you don’t have an immediate solution. Tell your prospect that you need a day or two to reflect, but get back with them in a timely fashion. Then, once you both agree that your solution may be a fit, set a clear expectation of what happens next.

It’s one thing to assume you have their needs, it’s another to know you do. Time is precious, and your chances of getting the right deal from a qualified buyer requires the right questions from the get-go. Go deeper into discovering your client’s needs by logging into P1 Learning today and watching the course, Conducting the Needs Assessment.

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Editorial: Body Language Mistakes

By: Brian Marriott, P1 Learning

P1-BodyLanguageYou walk into your sales appointment and find yourself waiting in the lobby. No worries! Perfect time to catch up on a few emails, check your pocket mirror for any remaining lunch remnants, perhaps you’re nervously tapping your foot without noticing. After all, you’re in the lobby, who cares, right? Well… maybe it wouldn’t hurt to freshen up on your proper body language skills. After all, your body language does more than just enhance our communication skills. It makes us seem more trusting. We emit confidence without saying a word. And, it’s just proper etiquette when you get down to it.

Nowhere is body language more important than in sales. Great body language helps salespeople work their way through dealings with a prospect, makes them seem more in control and cuts through tension like a warm knife to butter. But, a poor showing does nothing but leave salespeople with egg on their face, and might just put a potential sale out of reach.

So, what sort of faux pas can a salesperson make with their body language? With help from our partners at ej4, here’s a start.

Getting Face Touchy – Not only is touching your face considered to be a sign that you’re distrustful, but it’s one of the easiest slip ups on the etiquette bar. Remember, you have to shake this person’s hand after the meeting’s over.

Your Shoulders Aren’t Directly Aligned to Theirs – The farther away your shoulders seem from theirs, the more disinterested you come off in their eyes. Same goes with slightly skewed feet positions.

Scratching Your Head – A dead giveaway that you have serious doubts about what you’re saying. If you accidentally scratch the back of your head when talking about pricing, there’s a good chance the prospect thinks those numbers are phony.

Folded Arms Across Your Chest – By folding your arms, you sound the alarm on all sorts of things. A prospect might think you’re being cold. Or you’re reserved. Or worse, that you’re hiding something from the conversation, even though you may not be.

Breaking Personal Space Rules – The appropriate amount of space between you and the prospect starts immediately after the handshake. A really close handshake might just leave you standing closer than you’d like when the obligatory chit chat happens. And you can’t just back up awkwardly, either. So you just stand there until the prospect directs you otherwise.

Falling in Love With Your Phone – Cell phones, tablets – all handheld devices, really – cause you to lose focus. Next time, look around the room at the other people waiting. What are they doing? Odds are they’re buried in their phones. So be the odd one out and put away your phone until your leave your meeting.

Being a Stiff – Unless you’re auditioning to be one of the Beefeater guards outside the Tower of London, don’t tense up. When you appear frozen into place, it adds discomfort to the meeting.

Eye Contact – I saved this one for last simply because it’s the most profound error. Not making eye contact shows you’re disinterested and aren’t appreciative of the prospect and their time. There is no excuse to not give eye contact. And yes, it’s true that sometimes we tend to look away for a few quick seconds to readjust, but getting into that habit makes it easier to look away longer.

Your Facial Expressions Are Not Natural – Your smile doesn’t feel genuine. Or you don’t smile at all and just appear stone-faced and serious. We’ve talked about artificial smiles before, but it bears repeating: always be natural with your facial expressions.

Need more advice on nonverbal communication skills at the workplace? Login or sign up for a free 7-day demo here and see why our Body Language courses can help boost your chances to impress prospects.