Customer service skills are the cornerstone of the seller’s competencies and the basis of the so-called people skills necessary for efficient work both for ordinary employees in the service sector and middle and senior managers. The fundamentals of communication with both external clients (customers, partners) and internal (colleagues, subordinates) are practically the same and are closely related to the career development of an employee: the ability to realize professional knowledge largely depends on social competencies.
The idea of the company at the buyer is formed due to the way the seller introduces himself - the first contact person that a person encounters when he comes to the store. It depends on the seller whether the visitor will leave with a pair of shoes in a box and whether he will return again in the future, becoming a regular customer. The impression that the seller left about himself will have a noticeable, if not decisive, influence on the content of the news of word of mouth, when the client decides to share the experience with friends and acquaintances.
The seller is actually a professional psychologist; under any circumstances, he does not lose his positive attitude and enjoys working. “If you are a seller, it’s just your job, not your favorite thing, it will affect your behavior, and the buyer will immediately feel insincerity,” Anya Pabst is convinced. The seller, who is keen on his own business, is familiar with the situation when a person comes to the store just to “see, try on,” and leaves with the latest model’s winter boots.
The purchase process in this case takes place in three stages. First, an emotional contact is established with the sales manager, the buyer practically “buys” the identity of the seller himself: he evokes the sympathy of the seller, who sincerely wants to help the buyer and choose something suitable, and the client is already embarrassed to refuse the purchase. Then the seller must convince the customer that he has a real (real) need to make a purchase.
What type is this?
The ability to choose a strategy of behavior with a specific client is a matter of talent and experience. First you need to determine the type of client and on this basis to build a line of behavior. Over time, the seller gains his professional experience, and this happens automatically. But beginners have a hard time. Client identification begins even before verbal communication begins. The possible type of personality is indicated by the manner of holding, the behavior of the visitor in the store. Observing a person, you can choose an effective way of communication in three directions:
facial expressions (smile and facial expression);
verbal communication (selection of words, structure of questions, greeting).
There are different schemes for separating buyers by type. One of the most effective and focused on the sales process is the strategy used in the joint trainings of Tamaris and BEITRAINING. It is based on the customer’s willingness to make a purchase. This allows you to highlight six types of customers *:
* SR wrote in detail about this system in No. 129, August 2015.
Reception against scrap
In his career, every seller at least once encounters such a rare type of customer - aggressive. We deliberately did not include it among the main ones, as according to statistics aggressive customers make up only 1% of all visitors. Nevertheless, one must know about them and be prepared for such unpleasant communication: as they say, the one who is warned is armed.
For comparison: angry customers make up no more than 1,5%, actively expressing dissatisfaction with 2,5%, silent dissatisfied customers with 5%. All these are completely different categories, as people's behavior is determined by different emotions and conditions, so they should not be mixed.
When a client becomes angry from an unhappy and then aggressive (threatens the seller), he can even be physically dangerous, although people who react aggressively often regret it later. It is important to catch the moment of transition: cold eye contact, accusations or even insults, threatening gestures can develop into physical aggression.
The first step in such a situation is to take the client aside so that he does not disturb other visitors, and then try to extinguish his pressure with calm gestures and intonation. Often, such clients are simply looking for someone to frustrate because of personal problems, without substantive claims. 90% of clients are still positive, though only 20% of them are actively expressing satisfaction and are ready to become regular visitors.
How to make out your princess in a frog on a swamp
Regardless of the type of client you are going to have a conversation with, he always starts with a greeting. From the first word, the seller’s speech is subordinated to one goal - to build relationships and plant the first seeds of trust. Trust does not arise in 3-5 minutes, it takes time. General schemes here are not a panacea: the seller will have to choose the right words that are suitable for a particular visitor. Most customers react negatively and annoyingly to a sore mouth "Do you have something to suggest?"
No less important is intonation. She sends signals to the potential client: “Here, attentive service, they are waiting for me here, they will not ignore me here, they are not intended to entice money from me ...” Then the client draws attention to the substantial part of what the seller tells him. Therefore, sales floor employees must clearly understand what information they should tell the customer in the first place. You can talk about promotions or discounts, but “freebie hunters” who, in essence, are the least loyal customers and will immediately go to another store, will be interested in this, even if the benefit for them is 20 rubles.
It is worth distinguishing information about one-time promotions and seasonal discounts for new potential customers from regular customer programs aimed at increasing loyalty. Such information is a valuable part of the conversation and is suitable for communication only to loyal visitors.
The winning option after the greeting is the information about new models (“fashion peep”), relevant for buyers who are following the latest products. But this option will not be beneficial for everyone, so it is important to correctly determine the type of client and choose a strategy. You can not start a conversation with a detailed story about the goods and immediately overload the customer with information. Then he is inclined to abandon everything at once, and not to seek out the necessary information in the stream of facts. So, the second stage in the sales process is the qualification of the interested person - from the English concept of Qualifying. This is not a simple identification of needs, as many sales manuals write, this most important stage should be understood much more broadly.
First, qualifications begin by answering the question “ours” or not “ours”. Is the product interesting to the client in principle, or is he walking, collecting impressions, choosing a present for his girlfriend next Christmas, working for competitors, or “spying” to order what he likes on the Internet. According to the Pareto principle, only 20-25% of potential customers become real. The rest of 75-80% will not buy anything. The seller’s goal is to treat such visitors politely, but not spend more valuable time on them than necessary.
Most frogs will remain so and never become princesses. Only a fifth of visitors have the potential to turn into buyers. The time comes for the second stage - to find out if they intend to make a purchase today or after a lapse of time. Then comes the moment when it is important for the seller to find out which price range is relevant to the customer. A similar question helps determine what exactly to offer the client, namely, the product that better meets the wishes of the buyer.
Finally, the fourth stage is to clarify the needs and desires of the client - heel height, color scheme, nose shape, pads, shoe material. Thus, if all four stages of the “qualification” are completed successfully and the seller and the potential buyer have successfully reached the final, the purchase itself becomes only a matter of time when the client finds the pair of shoes he needs. In addition, the refusal to purchase at the last stage actually comes to naught, because the seller finds out in advance whether the client really wants to buy and pay for the goods.
Secrets of communication skills
Each successful seller has his own professional tricks, but even they are formed on the basis of communicative competencies available to any motivated person. Questions are the most important contact tool. The technique of formulating questions is easy to learn, and its effective application ideally leads to a sale. Not all questions are expressed in the usual interrogative form - a strategic and skillful approach is important here, but without the desire to deceive the client.
Positiveness is the key to a successful start. No advertisement begins with a story about the shortcomings of the product, and therefore, in conversation, the seller pays attention to the advantages of the product. In addition, a positive attitude and calm goodwill help to start a conversation. The ability to summarize the benefits of the product and not be distracted from the conversation is equally important: an oral presentation cannot last longer than 2-4 minutes.
Active conversation is another important skill. It consists, first of all, in the use of “energetic” verbs with a positive, constructive semantic load (to do, help, be able, contribute). People respond not so much to words as to the way of pronouncing, to whether the interlocutor has charisma and how convincingly he speaks.
The dilemma that every seller faces is the dependence of salary on revenue - on his personal sales. This creates serious pressure on him: on the one hand, you need to sell, fulfilling the plan launched from above, on the other hand, at the same time find for the client what he really needs, and not what is beneficial for the manager. Emotional tension in other areas of life is also unconsciously transferred to work and affects communication - in intonation, word selection, voice, and the seller is far from always able to control this, often this happens unconsciously.
The main thing is to be able to listen and stop in time
The seller must listen and hear the buyer, moving away from the pressure of the "sales plan" so as not to transfer his stress to the client. And having completed a successful transaction, be able to stop in time. So, additional sales can be offered only to those customers who from the very beginning have found a clear willingness to buy. Those who were difficult to convince, and who were close to their cash limit, when trying to add one or two more points to the check, will experience irritation and discomfort. This is one of the surest ways to quickly turn a loyal customer into a disgruntled one.
Golden seller rule - to work consciously, focusing on attitudes that are different from the pressure of the "average check". For example, Beitraining founder Gil Ostrander suggested using the phrase “My life does not depend on whether you buy from me or from a competitor. And it also does not depend on whether you buy today or tomorrow. " The client wants to be heard, even if at first he is not at all eager to answer questions. Ultimately, only focusing on customer needs, the desire to provide relevant information and avoid monotony lead to increased sales.
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