Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The 4 Basic Barriers

Mr. Ram of Milkko Rich came for a discussion. He is along with his Marketing Manager Mr. Kishore. We were analyzing the last months trend and how this  month sales is happening. We are also into customer complaint register and looking into the details. 

We are actually looking for a clue that may help us to improve the sales. Rural marketing in India is very tough and people (customers - consumers) are of complex nature. The communication is difficult. We understand something where as they are communicating some other message. 

We have to ask question to start the sale and at the same time the question should not create a reflex answer from the prospect. I am discussing with Mr. Kishore, how his team is asking questions and responding to the questions that the customer asks. 

Unless we learn to probe and clarify throughout the entire sales process, we'll never uncover a prospect's hidden objections. One interesting case is of "Cavin Kare" episode. Why is getting the inside story so hard?

The Four Basic Barriers

1. People don't volunteer information

2. People talk in generalities

3. People make wrong assumptions

4. People perceive things differently

These four communications problems make it necessary for every salesperson to develop the skills of a detective tackling a baffling case. Good salespeople get answers to their questions. Great ones probe and clarify each answer until they've solved the mystery. To get that order signed takes nothing less than detective work at every stage of the selling process.

Breaking Through the Barriers:

Barrier #1
The first problem -- that people don't volunteer information....comes up all the times when you're selling. A prospect might say, "We're not ready to make a decision yet," never volunteering that the "we" refers to a committee of six that must have proposals submitted in writing, and the "make a decision yet" refers to a meeting next month. Though these are crucial details, the prospect isn't going to volunteer them. It's up to you to probe and clarify to get a full understanding of the situation.

Barrier #2
People buy specifics, but often talk in generalities. Their reasons for agreeing or objecting to your sale can be very precise, but they're unlikely to state them. Even when people think in specifics they are often too lazy, afraid or impatient to state their real feelings. And many times a prospect's reasons for turning you down may be very vague: perhaps a feeling of distrust caused by your tone of voice or lack of eye contact.

What is a salesperson to do with general answers like "I'll think about it"? What will the prospect be thinking about? You don't know what aspect of the sale he will be dwelling on. Find out, and if need be refocus his attention where you want it. Respond with, "That's great. I'm glad you're going to be thinking about this. What exactly will you be focusing on?" 

It's natural to enjoy hearing a prospect say "I liked your product," but this is one gift horse you have to look in the mouth and ask, "What exactly did you like about it?" A standard objection like "I'm not ready yet" could mean anything from "I don't like you" to "I'm considering two other minaral companies" to "I don't have the money" to a dozen other concerns. Unless you probe and clarify you have no idea what to focus on to convince the person these concerns won't affect the satisfaction or value of your product or service.

Barrier #3
People make wrong assumptions. You can't assume anything. When a prospect says, "I'll take it into my boss," or "I'll talk to my uncle about it," most of us assume these are positive signs that the sale is progressing. But the prospect could be planning to tell his boss to hold off on the purchase. Unless you probe and clarify statement you'll never know where the sale really stands. Next time you hear, "I have to talk it over with my wife," probe that answer by asking, "Do I understand you correctly that if your wife likes it you'll be ready to proceed?"

Barrier #4
The final obstacle to communication is the fact that people perceive things differently. How I perceive a situation will be quite different from how you perceive it. That's because everyone's perceptions are based on past experience and present desires. So if I say, "let's go out to dinner," the scene those words conjure up in my mind is probably very different than what you envision. (Ram and Kishore understand this! when the prospect called them for dinner and yet to meet him!)

Such differing perceptions can play havoc with a sale. When a prospect says "let's close the deal," you might take that to mean a signed contract with money up front, but to your prospect it means one more round of negotiations. 

One area where perceptions always vary is people's perception of their own importance. It's natural for a person to have a heightened sense of his or her own significance. However, prospects frequently perceive themselves as decision makers when they can't really give the final okay. Be sure that when a prospect says, "I'm ready to close the deal," he has the authority to do so.

Once you learn to recognize these four communications barriers, you can easily learn to probe and clarify your way right through them

The rural marketing is very challenging and we are making extremely fantastic progress. Hats off to Mr. Ram and Kishore. The team work - works.

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