Every customer who either walks into or telephones your business has a need. If your employees satisfy your customer’s need, the end result could very well be a sale. But these situations should be viewed as much more than that. They are an opportunity to develop a long-term relationship with a customer and that ultimately results in repeat business, multiple sales and increased profits.
In order to make certain your customers’ needs are identified and met, your staff must possess the necessary skills to communicate with them. In the simplest of terms, your staff doesn’t need to be trained as aggressive sales people. They only need to know how to communicate with your customers and sales will naturally unfold.
Here are some areas in which your staff should be trained:
Skills to Develop Rapport – research shows that of our communication:
o 7% comes from the words we use
o 38% comes from our voice tonality, pitch and pace of the words
o 55% comes from our physiology (body) and posture
Simple techniques such as matching voice tonality with the pace of your customer’s voice can speed the development of rapport and increase the customer comfort level.
Ask Questions – the most important thing an employee can do is ask questions in order to understand your customers’ needs. If an employee understands what a customer needs or wants, it’s much easier to provide solutions. It may help to compose a list of the most important questions an employee should be asking each customer during varying situations.
Most customers want help. They want information that helps with their buying decision. With so many choices of products, features and services, decision-making can be a frustrating experience for customers. Train your staff to not only ask questions but to listen intently. Questions will encourage your customers to reveal their concerns and problems. These two skills alone will put you in a class above others.
Product knowledge – today’s consumer tends to be more knowledgeable than in the past. This makes it even more important to educate your employees on product, features and services. Customers rely on your staff to give them factual information to help them with their buying decision. If your staff has the ability to accurately answer their questions and to further explain and provide information, your customers’ confidence will skyrocket – as will the likelihood of a sale.
It’s equally important to teach your staff that if they don’t know the answer to a question, the appropriate response is to say so and then find someone who has the information. It is absolutely unacceptable for an employee to guess or make up an answer. Providing misinformation to a customer is a deadly practice that places both you and your customers in a position neither of you want. Your employees need to understand that it’s perfectly acceptable to explain that they don’t have the answer and that they will try to get one.
Customers appreciate honesty.
Educating your staff on product knowledge is not a one-time effort. It’s an ongoing process. Ask your employees to compile a list of the most commonly asked questions from customers. Use this as a basis for training.
Here are some other ideas for product knowledge training:
1. Do weekly quizzes on products to determine your employees’ knowledge.
2. Reward them for increasing their product knowledge.
3. Allow them to experience your products. It’s easier for an employee to tell customers about a product when they have used it and can speak from experience.
4. Teach employees how to use reference materials to find information that is important to the customer in the buying process.
Practice, practice, practice! Role-play various customer-buying situations with your staff. Role-play the new customer, the demanding customer and the unfriendly customer. Practice each of the steps from rapport building through helping the customer make the buying decision. Your employees will demonstrate more confidence in selling when they feel they have the experience to handle any type of customer they may encounter.
The interaction your staff has with your customers is critical to the success of your business. They can make the difference between no sale, a one-time sale or developing long-term relationships with customers. The time and money you invest in your staff to educate them with knowledge and skills will come back many times over.