Saturday, January 14, 2006

Learning to Think Like a Customer: Selling Tips for Success

Copyright © 2006 Stephen Wright

One of the most common mistakes marketers make is advertising and marketing based on personal opinions and perceptions. Unsuccessful ones tend to think this way, not only about the product being sold, but also regarding how potential customers will act and react to our advertising approach. This then begs the obvious question (which isn’t so obvious)—why do customers buy in the first place. What is their motivation, purpose in buying? What do they need the product/service for? What needs are they satisfying in buying the products in the first place? Seems like simple and basic questions, right? Not really, when you dig deeper under the surface. The better we understand and appropriately respond to these questions, the more sales, revenue and success we will have.

Fact number one: potential customers buy for personal reasons (theirs), not ours. They could care less about our company, glitzy website, or how long the list of product features so skillfully displayed. They only care about the oldest motivation in the book – WII-FM (what’s in it for ME!). They want the benefit, the impact, the improvement, the comfort, or the security it will deliver, period.

Most small (and large for that matter) business marketing fails to address these crucial customer needs directly. All too often the focus is mistakenly on the greatness of the product or service, and not on what is important (to the customer that is). Marketers are often their own worst enemy. Frequently, they are not communicating on the buyer's level of motivation. They are too busy figuring out how to "sell" the product than finding out the reasons the customer "buys" in the first place.

The problem comes down to the marketing strategy that is employed. Are you pushing the product or are you pulling the customer through the marketing process?

The distinction becomes very important and critical to success. Since buyers only care about their needs and take action for their personal reasons, why should they pay attention to why you think your product is so great?

When you push products, you are essentially telling the customer that they should buy from you because of your reasons. With this egocentric approach you often run into a stone wall of objections and delays. Pushing the product forces them out of their comfort zone and places unnecessary pressure on their decision making process. A relentless assault of closing techniques pushes them away from a purchase decision on “their terms”.

Pulling a potential customer through the purchase process is much more effective. When you pull you are leading them to the purchase like leading a horse to water. You gently guide them through your features and benefits and come to a decision on their terms. If they resist you have not educated them enough with information to motivate them or you haven't addressed their objections sufficiently.

The potential customer will only make a decision when they are comfortably satisfied your offer has met all of their purchase criteria. As a seller, you must pull them through the process and always let them stay within the limits of their comfort zone. It's by staying within these boundaries that trust is established and a long term relationship is built with the customer.

Also remember that the purchasing process is completely rooted in the perceptions of the buyer. They have ultimate control over the process, not you. Your job as a marketer is to develop all your communications to make them comfortable and lead them to the best outcome...purchasing your product or service.

Always be aware of which method you are using - push or pull - and adopt it to the potential customer’s personal reasons for purchasing and you will enjoy continuous success.



Stephen Wright is President & CEO of InternetMarketingUSA.com
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