Sale according to Dardelin Conseils

During challenging economic times, when increasing your sales should be a top priority, you try to provide your retail sales force with effective training. Here, one thing is certain: discovering your customers’ needs is crucial. I would go so far as to say it’s an issue that knows no borders. And yet, and I’m very sorry to have to say this, the lack of curiosity in salespersons nowadays is cause for serious concern.

What are the real issues facing salespersons today?

In your store, things are just not picking up… You have a pleasant, organized team, one you’ve duly trained to present your products favourably. And yet, things are just not picking up… Sales volumes remain flat or – worse – you see your turnover melting like snow under the sun. and just what is that sun? It’s the sun of the inadequacy of your teams’ training. Why?

Before I answer you, let me take a snapshot of what’s going on in your store:

  • Your salespersons don’t ask questions.
    • The customer buys only what he had already decided to purchase, especially IF he had already made his decision to buy before walking in.
  • Your salespersons ask the wrong questions.
    • They take the first step with the best of intentions, but they’re not trying to understand the your customers’ expectations.
      But bear this in mind: He who asks the wrong question will reap the wrong answer!
  • Your salespersons don’t listen to the answers.
    • Sure, they’ve learned the lessons of their “Discovery of the Customer’s Needs” training! But they’re flying on automatic pilot: they no longer even listen to the answers, and what’s worse, they’re convinced they’ve “done their job”! …

If you’re not going to listen to or use the answers you get, you might as well not waste your time asking questions.

The real stake of discovering the customer’s needs

The stake – and let me start by stressing this straight off – is not the Discovery, such as the training would have it.

No! The real stake is the RESPONSE.

It’s time you trained your sales teams in how to listen to and use your customers’ answers.

Don’t keep asking them to focus on the question instead of on the answer.
A few years ago again, the stakes of discovering your customers’ needs was not as crucial as they are today. Three elements were (almost) sufficient:

  • Pleasing products
  • Good merchandising
  • Attractive stores

With the rise of the Internet, 1 out of 2 customers has already made online inquiries, comparison-shopping before he even steps into a brick-and-mortar store. Nowadays, he expects an experience that mere online shopping doesn’t provide. He expects the attention, the interest, the recognition of his status as unique customer, something he isn’t getting from virtual stores (at least, for now).

Why doesn’t Customer Discovery training meet these objectives?

Simply put, because the environment is unfavourable. Let me explain this:

You’ve called on an some training agency, and you’ve sent your teams down the promising path to “Discovering the Customer’s Needs”.

Training takes place in small, relaxed groups sitting around in a room in a privileged, soothing environment. If I were trying to ridicule this, I’d say that in fact, over the course of the day, your team will work on 5 good questions, which they will learn by heart, and that’s that!

The problem is that once they’re back “in the field”, in your store, there is little if any implementation, and even less so in the long run.

The reason for this is simple: this kind of training lacks any role-playing practice. In the store, conditions simply aren’t designed to foment one’s ability to concentrate on the customer’s actual answer, on his RESPONSE.

Look around and be honest: what with the noise, the bright lights, the music, the customers who are all calling on the same salesperson at the same time, stock management, answering the phone, handling the cash register, restocking shelves, the stress…

Aren’t the genteel conditions described earlier a far cry from this reality? In effect, you’re asking a rugby team to get ready to face New Zealand’s All Blacks by sitting on their living-room couches, watching them play on TV.

Practical experience has nothing to do with what the theories your teams learn: what your teams need is for you to take their working environment into consideration, for you to be on the look-out for whatever might break their concentration.

You must offer your sales staff training that reflects their distractions as closely as possible.

So, ready to change?

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