authors Dave Yoho
This is not a new, earth-shattering concept. It is based on well-established factual research. All of which was developed by constantly surveying customers’ buying habits, then examining why they do or don’t do business.
The concepts of using customer-satisfaction selling can be described as a problem-solving discussion between the contractor-salesperson and the prospect that leads toward a meeting of the minds, which deepens the dependence of each on the other.
The contractor-salesperson’s goal should be to elicit information, which unearths values and needs that might not have been otherwise expressed clearly, enabling the salesperson to appear collaborative, effectively establishing mutual trust.
You may think you do what that last paragraph describes, which then begs the question: Why is it that so often you perceive the customer did not accept your proposal?
- Your price was too high?
- They wanted to think it over?
- They wanted to discuss it (get an opinion) via a third party?
- They were going to settle for lesser quality?
This perception is then fueled by misinterpreting customers’ statements, which leads to misinformation regarding customers’ buying habits—all the while failing to uncover real needs and values. Then being sidetracked by spending too much time talking about yourself, the status of your company, the quality of your work and how much customers love you—all the while spending too little time asking questions and listening for answers.
Customer satisfaction can be better understood when viewing a lengthy and ongoing study, which includes surveys, wherein thousands of customers were interviewed in an ongoing effort to determine what the thinking and feeling was of those who interacted with people attempting to sell them or convince them to do business. The study concludes that prospects most frequently purchased products and services based on their perceptions. Here are a few examples:
- The credibility of the contractor making the presentation. How was the information perceived?
- The degree of rapport between the contractor- salesperson and the customer. (Note: Rapport is a state of mind that begins with feelings. Rapport is most easily developed in the early stages of contact.) It is usually based on the contractor- salesperson having an understanding of how prospects think and feel.
- Prospects like people who listen to them.
- They like people who respond to and appear to endorse their values.
- They like people who work at uncovering their needs, which they don’t reveal initially.
Despite the well-intended efforts of the contractor-salesperson, it is almost impossible, unless needs are uncovered, to understand the customer’s value system. These are not easily detected but can be made visible while inspecting the project and developing a needs assessment—uncovered with a system of questions, then exploring the answers.
A customer-satisfaction oriented contractor-salesperson understands that in the home improvement/remodeling industry—where a contract can range from a few thousand dollars to upwards of $50,000—the customer needs a thorough project inspection plus the opportunity to discuss their perceived needs, their goals and perception of the outcome (clearly defined). Only then can a presentation and proposal be objectively evaluated.
There is probably no greater piece of misinformation that has been foisted on those who represent the home improvement industry than the following:
The customer should be given the price as promptly as possible. They perceive too much talking or the use of a printed or electronic presentation as show and tell. It simply doesn’t work with today’s homeowners. (Not true.)
Often, those who represent home improvement/remodeling companies are deluded or simply misunderstand the selling process, frequently assessing it as “hard sell,” “manipulation,” “high pressure,” “chicanery” or worse. This often relates to the various ways in which many companies create their customer communication methods (which they describe as selling) in an effort to promote the sales of their products and services.
This often leads to a dissatisfied customer; however, this need not be the outcome if properly executed. It is true that many contractors-salespeople talk too much—and listen too little. They don’t ask the questions, which when answered lead to unearthing needs not otherwise expressed. Here is an example of how the communication process can produce positive outcomes. First, think of the word ACID, to remember four words: A – Arouse, C – Cultivate, I – Information and D – Determine.
If you arouse your customers sufficiently, then you can cultivate their interest. They will in turn provide you with information that will aid you in determining their actual needs (versus wants) and clues to their value system—which in turn will guide you in understanding how to deal with them.
Unfortunately, most contractors-salespeople reverse the ACID process. Early on in conversations with the prospect, they make a determination about the prospect’s goals and values. Something as simple as the prospect saying, “We’re looking for the best price,” or “We’re getting several prices, sharpen your pencil,” can lead that prospect to being mislabeled as a price buyer, to satisfy this customer, the salesperson will have to lower the price.
Without complete information, which can only be acquired by cultivation (processing), contractors-salespeople make the wrong determination. If that customer is not aroused to a level where rapport takes place, valuable information regarding “needs” and “values” is probably never received.
Too often, the contractor-salesperson is misled to believe that price is a major part of the decision-making process. This is often an “attitude issue.” If a rep believes that the product or service is not equal to the price they quote, they are setting themselves up to miss many sales. This is also true if they do not respond to customers’ misinformation, such as, “It’s the same kind of a product but it costs less.” In most cases, this statement is based on misinformation, not only on the part of the prospect but also on that of the contractor-salesperson, who doesn’t know how to respond without appearing confrontational.
Our research and the reliable data, which the research provides, has caused us to draw the following conclusion, which is shared by most companies that utilize modern communication/sales training.
“There is seldom a cold, rational, dispassionate buyer who buys solely on merit. They can be prompted and motivated to find products or services which appear to meet their needs better than other options.”
In the normal process of buying, a customer will make a decision based on four factual issues.
- Gain: How do I benefit and how does this product/service meet my needs better than others?
- Pride: Will I enjoy this product/service? Will it make me feel more secure and comfortable?
- Fear: What will happen in the event I decide to do nothing, or am I protecting my original investment (home, building, etc.)?
- Imitation: Why many others with the same conditions or circumstances choose this method.
Customer-satisfaction selling causes you to recognize that a presentation—which is tailored to a prospect’s needs, goals, values and feelings—is usually viewed favorably when the decision is made to “buy.” That customer, when queried, seldom says, “Joe Smith from XYZ Company sold this to me,” or “Despite my reluctance, I was sold.” They will usually state, “I bought this from XYZ.” The customer is claiming credit for the purchase. The indication is that during the presentation, his/her needs were uncovered; his/her value system was put on the table and responded to by the contactor-salesperson.
This final piece of research represents the summation of all we’ve said in this article—again, referring to the survey data we constantly receive. Prospects were asked to define what they wanted when speaking to the contactor-salesperson. When they were queried later as to what their needs were in terms of the particular product/service they were examining, they unconsciously revealed portions of their value system, which appear to be at odds with their originally stated wants.
The method by which to establish and use customer-satisfaction selling is based more on fulfilling their needs, rather than responding emotionally and verbally to their stated wants. In this form of sales methodology, don’t assume anything. Whenever an issue is raised, respond with a question; listen, pause and perhaps raise another question, which may unearth more than the original question revealed. Try to remember the L.Q.R. principle. Listen, wait three or four seconds. Question, listen carefully. This may require another simple question to get clarity; then Respond.
Customer-satisfaction selling is the basis for most of our sales training. It works for large and small companies, and it has proven to be a great benefit for both new and veteran salespeople. Our website, daveyoho.com, contains abundant free information on this subject and many opportunities to receive free recordings and printed material. QR
Dave Yoho is the president of the oldest (since 1962), largest and the most successful small business consulting company specializing in the home improvement industry. His recorded materials are sold throughout the U.S. and many foreign countries. His company employs a staff of consulting experts who specialize in advising companies on how to become more profitable in their business. His company sponsors ongoing seminar programs. For more information on their products, consulting services or seminars visit daveyoho.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.