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Know Your Customer Experience

How well do you know your customer experience? Can you tap into their lived experience, needs, and hopes? Do you have a deep understanding of the role your product plays in their life?

Often, salespeople are entirely focused on the product they hope to sell. They memorize the selling points, comparisons to competitors, and price points.

One thing that we quickly forget is our own shopping behavior. When we look for a product, we are really looking for the role that product or service will play in our lives. We don’t care about any selling point unless we see how it will fit in our world.

A Lesson in Customer Experience From Walmart

I learned a vital lesson in sales from working at Walmart. Starting from cashiering, I was promoted to the sales floor in electronics. My sales training came from two people: a manager and a long time employee.

The long time employee had an incredible track record of selling above and beyond the expected quotas. Meanwhile, the manager was in a higher position at the store but not responsible for selling products. The different training methods highlighted the way sales happen vs. the way that we overthink them.

The Manager’s Training

When my manager sat me down for training, she pushed product knowledge and formal, respectful dialogue. The focus of each training session was to master elements of each product. I would be quizzed on the comparables of LCD & LED tv’s, or the function of RAM in laptops.

She would follow the technical knowledge up with mannerisms and politeness. A stressed point was that formal speak would make me sound more professional and knowledgeable. This felt rigid, but the increase in product knowledge made me feel confident.

I applied her techniques first and found them to be unsuccessful. I could talk my way around every product in the store, but couldn’t close sales. Something was missing from my approach.

The Real Training

When I was paired with a strong salesman, my training and results changed drastically. The first thing I noticed was his focus. It was entirely on the customer. He knew everything about every product, but hardly mentioned it. He only spoke to the customer’s life & experiences.

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As I watched him interact with customers, I spotted a trend. He constantly asked questions that were targeted on the customer’s hoped for results. Dialogue was centered on the human, not the product.

As an example, he wouldn’t sell a laptop by talking up the specs. He would get to the heart of the reason why the customer needed it and what it would be used for. “Oh, this is for your daughter for school? You want it on a budget? This laptop can handle online school videos, word processing, and navigating the internet at high speeds to do research.” Put that in comparison to the manager who would have me say “this laptop has 8 gb’s RAM and 250 gb’s of hard drive storage, using a Pentium processor and blah, blah, blah.”

Creating the Customer Experience

Whether you sell a product or a service, you are really selling a customer experience. Understanding that is the key to higher sales and more loyal customers. Match customers’ expectations to your actual goods. Understand who they are and why they are driven to buy a product like yours.

You may convince some people to buy from you through exceptional knowledge and professionalism. However, you can convince anyone to buy from you via a powerful understanding of their needs and a relatable conversation that bridges that need to your service.

Apply this with sincerity and you will continue to win at business and life. People want to be understood and given compassion. Be a better salesperson by being a better person.

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