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Qualifying the Customer - "Cutting the Grass or Cutting the Deal"

February 27, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 145

I'm always searching for real case studies and anecdotes to use in my sales training sessions, and a particularly relevant one just happened to bob up during a casual conversation with some friends of mine. It is the classic example of taking the time to explore the prospect's circumstances, and delving deeply enough to uncover their real wants and needs - their dominant buying motive - before launching into an unqualified sales pitch...

The husband of a very good friend of mine is in the lawn mowing business. Australia's long hot summers not only encourage the grass to grow before your very eyes, but generate a lot of angst among homeowners who can think of plenty of things they would rather be doing on a hot summer weekend than toiling over the lawnmower. The situation has spawned some very successful franchises in the residential landscaping and lawn care sector. He was one of those franchisees... let's call him Joe.

Joe loved what he did. Not only did he enjoy the physical work and the freedom of the outdoors, he was very good it: he didn't just cut the grass, he manicured it. His customers loved him for it, the referrals flowed, his contract manifest quickly filled, and before long he 'ruled his own kingdom'.

Then came an interstate move, prompted by the transfer of his wife, an up-and-coming executive in the information technology business. He had to start again, building a new customer base in unfamiliar territory. Without a local referral base to seed his new pasture, it was back to door-knocking for Joe. Sadly, his cold calling skills weren't in the same league as his garden care expertise, and disappointment soon set in. Despite arming himself with bundles of letterbox fliers, and an impressive repertoire of 'marketing statements', including free trial offers, he just wasn't hitting the mark. His cold call routine just wasn't working.

We got to talking about this, and the subject of the prospect's dominant buying motive came up. Just why would these homeowners want to contract Joe to mow their lawns for them? We picked a nearby street and went looking for clues. The odd boat and trailer in the driveway, the kid's bikes parked on the porch, the discarded football lying the garden, were just some of the telltale signs that here was a family who might just have something better to do on weekends and who might just jump at the suggestion of freeing up some spare time to actually do it. All around was evidence of time-poor parents who might appreciate an opportunity to spend some precious time with their kids, their friends, even to snatch some regular free time with each other!

After surveying a few more streets we were able to devise a crude system for prioritising the prospecting list, but more importantly for Joe, to develop some guidelines for chasing down likely buying motivators for each individual property owner. With a different blueprint now prepared for each call, he promptly discarded his standard spiel in favour of a friendly greeting focused on identifying the appropriate lifestyle benefit, and began to introduce his negotiation process with open questions that would immediately impact on it.

Joe was no longer selling just a lawn-mowing service. Sure, his customers could enjoy the prospect of a permanently and expertly manicured lawn, and the neighbourhood envy that would go with it, but more importantly, they could look forward to finally freeing-up that all-important leisure time - the real benefit that Joe was offering them. It worked. Not only were his prospects more receptive, but Joe found that the new casual approach somehow overcame that dreadful inner fear of rejection he had been feeling with every ring of the doorbell.

Last time we spoke, he proudly announced that he has now negotiated a full book of mowing contracts, and is considering recruiting some additional help to expand his domain... in his own words, 'I can now cut the deal as smoothly as I cut the grass.'

About the Author:

In a distinguished career spanning half a century, Keith Rowe has managed the full journey from shop floor to boardroom. Along the way, he has headed the Australian sales and marketing operations for three of the world's largest Consumer Electronics manufacturers - Toshiba, Sanyo and Sharp.

Keith is not just a successful businessman. He is an accomplished speaker and trainer, specialising in interpersonal skills. His latest book - the KNACK of Negotiating - is essential reading for all those involved in commercial buying and selling. It is available in all the popular eBook formats, from Apple iTunes to Amazon Kindle.

© 2012 Keith Rowe - all rights reserved worldwide

Source: EzineArticles
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