Take the Sitcom Drama Off the Sales Floor
By Jered Sobel
I recently had the rare occasion and time from my busy work schedule to do something I generally do not have time for: watch TV. During a long layover in my travels, I took the opportunity to catch up on a few episodes of various sitcoms and dramas.
I ended up getting two things from those shows that day. First, it was a wonderful little distraction to clear my head. Second, as I was watching I noticed that many shows story lines hinged on a lack of effective communication between their characters.
For example, no one ever seemed to ask the appropriate question, in a situation that would obviously warrant it. In a crime show, you can watch someone on a polygraph machine never get asked the question that would solve the murder. Ina sitcom, star-crossed lovers stumble through their silver-screen romance,always managing to argue just as they were getting along after some misunderstanding.
We,as the audience, of course, can see their folly. While this creates the drama or comedy that stretches story line beyond five minutes in a TV show, we do not have the extra time to go about those things the hard way in real life.
As people who pride themselves on customer service, communication can be a major problem for us if not conducted effectively. It is helpful to take a closer look at the questions we are asking in order to better understand the responses we are getting.
The way we ask questions greatly influences the answers
To better serve our customers, we must use anchoring throughout our sales presentations. When used correctly, anchoring can set a customer at ease in an environment where they might otherwise be guarded. A customer unease may come from mistrust triggered by a poor experience at another store, or they may just be outside of their comfort zone. Either way, we must ask quality questions, early and often, to help the customer give accurate information so that we may provide them with better service.
In a well-delivered presentation, anchoring will do the following:
Relax cautious customers
Help customers share shopping budgets
Find out if a customer has a trade
Explain why some products cost more
Lets analyze a couple questions in reference to monthly payments commonly asked by salespeople that do not demonstrate anchoring, and why.
There are too many possible responses that all create their own unique problems. Common responses might include:
What do you think my payments would be on this product?
As low as possible.
The same as my last RV.
We want our payments to be $250 per month.
As a result of the questions wording, the salesperson could expect any canned answer that they have heard before. Now, the salesperson has limited choices of presentable products. The customer may never have the opportunity to purchase what they can really afford.
What are your current monthly payments?
If we are asking that, we may as well be in that crime show getting distracted by a detail that does not matter, while forgetting what we were asking in the first place. To put it bluntly, this question is irrelevant, makes no sense and is the perfect example of negative anchoring. The customer might wish to purchase a product that is bigger, nicer, newer and costs more money than their trade-in was.
Or,they may have very little for a down payment and they could owe more on their trade than it is worth. Therefore, it is impossible to keep their same monthly payments. Why would we ever want to lead a customer to believe this can be done?
A better way to phrase the question is, So I do not waste our time showing you the wrong RV, as far as your monthly payments, were you thinking you wanted them to be $500-$550, $550-$600, $700, $800 or $1,000 per month?
This is anchoring! The customer will probably stop you long before you get to the top range. Expect an answer such as Whoa! I can only afford $500 per month! I was only thinking like $450-500. You have now effectively discovered the customer's budget and can be truly principle centered, showing them only what they can afford.
With anchoring, you can expect the customer to select the lowest number that leaves your mouth or fits their budget, whichever value is lower.
The constant issue we see in TV and the movies is poor communication leading to wrong or irrelevant information. While it is entertaining to watch the characters on screen, knowing that miscommunication is directly heading toward a boiling point, it is not entertaining in real life.
No one can ever overstate the importance of increasing the quality of communication between a salesperson and their customer. Anchoring may be the single most effective way to increase your gross profit, your volume and your customer service all at the same time. Learning to avoid sitcom drama and help your customer share everything accurately,up front, will allow you to do your best work for them without any stress at the end.