Sales people and many entrepreneurs know that asking strategic questions will reveal their customers’ needs. Put another way, strategic questions will reveal what is valuable to your customers (see my previous article, Value Sells, Price Scares for the importance of selling on value). This revelation will only occur if you understand what your customer’s answers really mean, because they may not have the same meaning to your customer as they do to you. Paying attention to specific words is an important part of creating that understanding.
We often use words such as freedom, wealth, and happiness without considering that they may represent something completely different to other people, such as our customers. For example, happiness to one person may be traveling solo around the world, while to another it may involve having a large family and being surrounded by many grandchildren. When asked “what is important to you about staying healthy?”, both could answer “to have happiness in my life.”
The unenlightened seller defers to a product sheet or his marketing materials and says “great, you’ll be happy to hear that my product brings happiness to my customers’ lives by preventing sadness.” Even though they’re speaking the same language on the surface, the unenlightened seller has just failed to understand the customer, and so has failed to learn about the customer’s perception of value.
The enlightened sales person would clarify the customer’s understanding of the concept of happiness by asking “what does happiness mean to you?”, and would proceed to build value around the customer’s answer.
To catch words or phrases that may represent different things to different people, ask yourself, “can I put it in a wheelbarrow?” You can’t put wealth in a wheelbarrow, but you can put money in it. You can’t put freedom in a wheelbarrow, but you can put plane tickets, or even a family member or two in it.
Try asking your customers clarifying questions, if you don’t already. You’ll be surprised at all the additional information you will receive to work with for building unique value for that particular customer!
Bart Zych delivers the only NLP-based sales and communication strategies that focus on customizing the sales process to the internal motivation, decision-making, and communication methods of the buyer.