Know Your Customer

Know what your customer is thinkingSalespeople love to talk about their product. Common advise to salespeople is, “you need to know your product” and “you need to believe in what you’re selling”. These things are true but they are not the highest priority. Ask me the first thing a salesperson needs to know and I’ll say, “You need to know your buyer”.

My wife and I were shopping for a car recently. I explained to the salesperson that we have a growing family. He acknowledged that and asked a few polite questions about how many children we have and how old they are. He led us over to one of their “family friendly” (which is a code word for “big SUV”) vehicles and things were looking good.

Then it all fell apart. He started talking about the high output engine and the “racing inspired” aluminum wheels. He pointed out that it has great pickup, especially when you fill up the tank with premium gas. He stressed that the car could come equipped with a state of the art sound system.

He wasn’t speaking to our needs and objectives. He failed the “Know your buyer” test. With two small children, our concerns were focused on safety, ease of getting the kids in and out, and cargo room. I wanted to know about the kid-friendly features and how to clean food (either before or after it was consumed!) off of the back seats. We have no intention of filling it with premium gas or rocking out to a kick-ass stereo. All these things he was telling us about the vehicle were true, but they didn’t speak to our needs.

Ironically, the car did come with plenty of what we were looking for in terms of convenience, safety, and practicality (when you skip the high-end sound system and use regular gas). So we did buy it – but almost in spite of, rather than because of the salesperson’s pitch.

The point is that it’s great to tell people why you love your product. But it’s even better to tell your customer why they will love it.

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