Words by Colin Rees, bike trade sales trainer and business consultant...
The big killer to a sizeable sale could be human nature.
If I asked you what discount you wanted, you would be very likely to think ten per cent. We’ve grown up with it as a standard so it’s human nature to expect it.
In sales training where we talk about customers complaining, it is critical for people to understand that a customer does not necessarily complain when something goes wrong. The customer only does so when their expectations have not been met.
So the customer automatically expects £150 off a £1,500 bike. The challenge is to beat the expectation with less, after first throwing a few hurdles in the way. On sales training courses, we talk about pound notes. Would a customer be as happy with a few £5 pound notes? As in all selling, it’s all about how you do it.
So what other places can we see human nature kicking us in an uncomfortable place?
A person who has not been trained will take the easy way to a sale because human nature kicks in. I have seen staff at the till offering discounts when a customer hasn’t even asked. It’s because he or she thinks that the lower the price, the more happy the customer will be – and he’s not wrong but it’s hardly good, sustainable business.
It is also the reason why we really have to work at getting sales staff to offer customers associated products to those he is buying. It is not ‘human nature’ to do so. How about when closing a sale? All too often I hear: “It sounds too pushy”. Yet if everyone closes every sale, sales rise by ten per cent.
Fear of rejection, not knowing what to do if the customer says no, forgetting, or never being told we should close every sale are all reasons why most sales people in retail stores do not do it – and lose their stores ten per cent potential increased sales.
If you get into the science of the transaction, the customer actually wants you to ask. If you miss it, you will hear, yet again, those immortal words; “I’ll go away and think about it” as they extricate themselves from the situation.
A more recent area where human nature comes into play is when a customer says they can buy it cheaper on the internet. Human nature dictates there isn’t anywhere to go once someone says that. But sit down and plan as a team for half an hour and it is likely you will be able to put a number of barriers up that may, at least, make some people think twice and save some of those lost sales. Have you ever tried sending an internet purchase back? What a hassle. Does an internet provider give a free first service? The saving from buying on the ‘net may not be too short of your price when you take all the costs into account.
The last area of human nature instances is where a sales person stands below a display of products pointing to each one he describes. Again, why take it down when it might not be right for the customer and I’ve only got to put it back. Put another way, I can’t be bothered. Yet the practise of putting products into customer’s hands every single time can increase sales by around five per cent mainly, because once holding it, it is very difficult to give it back if the sales person doesn’t stand too close.
So human nature can kill many sales as customer’s expectations are not met. It can adversely affect the performance of a salesman and it can also be a huge help in making the sale.
Next time you are active with a customer, think back after he goes how many times in that conversation human nature came into play. If you have never considered it before, you will be amazed. For those experienced in selling, it can become a fascinating area and cultivated to be of great assistance as you can plan successful strategies. Top flight, professional sales people study it.
Colin Rees, Sales Trainer and business consultant: Colinrees7@gmail.com