Probe Before You Sell
When selling a product to a customer, it is very important to find out as much as you can about your customer and their needs before you proceed with your sale.
This is commonly referred to as "needs based selling."
The most effective way to find out about your customers needs, is to ask probing, open-ended questions.
An open-ended question does not allow your customer to give you a "yes" or "no" answer, it makes them explain to you what their needs are, and why they would need a particular product.
Here is an example, if you were a sales associate at a furniture store, and a customer walked in looking for a dining room set, an open-ended question you might ask would be:
"Tell me about the particular type of pattern you are looking for," or simply put, "tell me more about what you are looking for"
This puts your customer in a situation where they cannot say "yes" or "no," they must go into detail.
On a personal note . . .
Not to long ago, my wife and I were in a department store looking for a coat for me.
I spotted one that I like hanging on a discount rack. It was brown, with a removable liner, and a zipper that ran the length of the collar, to protect your neck.
I liked it so much, I took it from the rack and tried it on.
As I stood admiring myself in the mirror, a sales associate came over and complimented me on my appearance in this jacket.
I smiled politely and thanked her. She than proceeded to tell me that the best part about the jacket was that it smelled like real leather.
Taking her word for it, I put my nose to the sleeve, took a whiff, and sure enough, it smelled like real leather.
The only problem was . . .
I don't like the smell of leather.
Needless to say, I put the coat back on the rack, and the friendly sales person lost the sale and the commission.
The mistake the sales person made was assuming that I liked the smell of leather. It was a safe assumption on the part of the sales person, because most people like the smell of leather. This doesn't mean it should be taken for granted.
The point I am trying to make, is that it is essential that you ask probing and open-ended questions, find out as much as you possibly can about your customer before you present them with a product. You'll end up with a lot more sales. Believe me!