Selling is a two-way process involving equally your mind and the mind of your prospect. To be successful in selling, we must know a great deal about concepts and perceptions that exist in the minds of potential customers. Without this information, many sales will be lost. To arrive at a decision, buyers will always consider the product from their own point of view. Therefore the salesperson should present the product in the same way.
In the past the product has often been the major focus of sales training. Today we are seeing greater emphasis on the customer. There is growing consensus that the customer has supplanted the product as the driving force in sales, and this transition has far-reaching effects on sales training
Failure to look at selling from the customer’s point of view is especially common among new salespeople who lack experience. It is not uncommon for traditional sales training to focus on product knowledge and product presentation. The new salesperson will often develop a great deal of enthusiasm for a product and go into the field with the expectation of closing every sale. When sales resistance arises, the inexperienced salesperson often becomes confused and frustrated. “Why can’t the prospect see the merits of this product?” the sales representative may ask.
Some prospects are conditioned to display sales resistance. They fear that a salesperson will sell them a product they do not need. It has been said, “We all like to buy, while at the same time, we all fear being sold. An understanding of the buying process will help us understand the defensive attitude that sometimes surfaces in selling situations.
The final decision to buy a product comes only after the prospect has made a series of smaller decisions. In the field of selling, these decisions are referred to as “mental steps” in the buying process.
As a practical matter, an understanding of the mental steps in the buying process helps the salesperson construct a logical sales presentation. When salespeople anticipate questions and concerns that exist in the prospect’s minds they can deal with them in a more systematic fashion. The end result is a sales presentation that takes into consideration the buyer’s point of view.
Several commonly accepted theories explain how people arrive at a buying decision. Three of the most popular theories will be described in this topic. One traditional point of view holds that the salesperson closes the sale by guiding the prospect through five mental processes. We will refer to this approach as the buyer action theory. A second traditional theory is based on the assumption that a final buying decision is possible only after the prospect has answered five logical questions. This is called the buyer resolution theory.
Both of these theories thrived during the past forty years when the main focus was on the product. The third explanation of how people buy is very “prospect” oriented and is called the need-satisfaction theory. This newer approach to the selling-buying process gives maximum attention to a highly responsive customer strategy that ensures satisfaction of prospect needs. It has been adopted by successful marketers who realise that we have entered the era of the customer.
Buyer Action Theory
From a traditional point of view there are five mental steps that lead to a buying decision:
The salesperson’s role is to guide the prospect through each step.’ These five steps have application in advertising, public relations, publicity, and sales promotion as well as personal selling.
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