The Right Questions

September 22, 2017

Order-Takers vs Salespeople

Are you an order-taker or a salesperson? Order-takers do exactly as the label implies: they simply ring up items that the customer asks for with no additional effort to connect with that person. Salespeople, on the other hand, put in that effort to understand what customers need and help guide them to the right choices.

But what’s wrong with being an order-taker? You’re only doing what the customer wants, nothing more and nothing less. Isn’t the customer the most qualified person to identify what he or she wants? After all, you don’t want to come off as pushy, as someone with your own agenda that supersedes the customer’s, right?

Customers are indeed better versed on their needs than you are, but they don’t know your products and services nearly as well as you do. Remember that. Uncovering those needs and connecting them to the right choices isn’t just about trying to fatten a commission check or reach a sales goal: it’s about making sure that all the customer’s needs are being met, not just the ones he or she remembered in that moment. In doing this, you are preventing future dissatisfaction.

So, how do you uncover those needs?


Close-Ended Questions vs Open

To learn about customers’ needs, you need to get them talking. A rookie mistake in sales is to ask questions that have only have one of two responses: yes or no. If the goal is to communicate, then one-word answers aren’t going to get you very far. Indeed, a no-answer might just shut down your line of inquiry altogether before you even get the chance to offer something.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re a hot tub salesperson, and you have a prospective buyer in front of you. He’s told you the make and model he wants, and that he’s pretty sure that’s all he needs. Now, the order-taker would leave it at that and go write up his quote. The rookie salesperson, on the other hand, would at least remember to ask, “Do you want to add any accessories?” And maybe the rookie will get lucky and the customer will say yes, but more than likely the answer will be no and that conversation will be over.

But as a seasoned pro, you don’t ask a yes or no question there because you know that’s a conversation ender. You ask an open-end question about what accessories the customer has already researched—so that even if he admits that he hasn’t given it thought, then you have the opening. Now you can say, “Well, you might consider…” Now you have the groundwork for a conversation, which will lead you to other considerations the customer might not have entertained.

This small tweak makes a world of difference: it shows the customer that you enough to look out for them beyond that moment. And while not every open-ended question will result in an extra sale or add-on, even a small bump in percentages will mean a huge boost in profit and—more importantly—customer satisfaction. The last thing you should want is for the customer to get home with their new product or service and realize that it’s inadequate in some way. The blame in your customer’s mind will fall on the seller, not the buyer.


Why This Matters

When we compare salespeople and order-takers, open-ended questions and closed, what we’re really talking about is an employee who either cares or does not, who takes pride in his work or does not. This person either cares about the customer experience and about the reputation of his employer, or he couldn’t care less. Is this person there to work, or just punch a clock?

To put this into your arena, you must ask what sort of person you want to be or what sort of people you want to employ. If your answer is the “employee who cares”, then take whatever steps are necessary to see that idea realized in your workplace. Pay attention to the small details, like asking the right questions, and your business will be rewarded in the long-term.

The Brandt Group specializes in customer services, sales, and training. Whether you’re the employee or the employer, we have the tools to help you or your company grow. Reach out to us today and we’ll create a strategy together covering everything from marketing to the sales process.

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