Beliefs drive behavior; this is has been proven true time and time again and I believe it is one of the great laws of the universe. So it makes sense if you are in sales it is probably pretty important to learn what your customer believes. Yet I will be willing to bet that learning your customer’s beliefs is not at the top of most sales rep’s priority lists. Maybe it should be.
Your goal in selling is to have a business conversation with another person and to hopefully change their mind and then their behavior so that they use your product (or perhaps use more of your product). I don’t know how you can attempt to do that unless you know what that person really believes. If you are not able to adequately explain what your customer believes and thinks about your product or service, then you need to learn what these beliefs are. The very best way I have ever discovered to do that is to ask—that’s the best way to find out the information you seek. It makes sense to construct a well crafted question that doesn’t sound threatening, creates a safe environment and sets the tone that you are truly interested in learning about your customer. You may say something like this: “It occurred to me that I am really not 100% certain how you currently view my product. I would love to ask you to share with me how you currently view my product and have it positioned in your mind, if at all? Could you take a moment to help me understand this so I can make certain what I share with you is most relevant?”
Being able to identify a belief is a great starting point, but you still want to learn more. You want to learn where that belief originated from, if at all possible. It could be based on experience, or what this customer was taught in training, or a recommendation from a colleague. Why is it significant to learn how that belief was shaped? The obvious reason is that your customer describing their beliefs either confirms that you truly understand them or that you need to ask some clarifying questions to learn more.
By asking this type of question, you gain extra insight: It enables you to get a glimpse of the thought processes that your customer employs to arrive at the decision as to the best option/product/solution for them. It will also help you identify different factors that will likely influence this customer. For example, you may learn that a colleague recommended a competitor’s product based on his experiences. Now you know not only that your competitor is already being used within that organization but that your customer values this colleague’s input. It makes sense to talk to that person of influence and gain an understanding of that individual. (And you may influence more potential customers by engaging this one influential person).
The quest for customer knowledge and insight for top performing sales people is never ending. By focusing your efforts to learn more about your customer, such as their beliefs, you’ll find it is easier not only to tailor your product discussion but to develop a business relationship with that person. You’ll notice that your customer responds differently to you once you gain this understanding—and you’ll very likely see the results in your sales numbers.