The best salespeople and customer service providers all make sure to follow this rule: don’t show the customer everything.
Be the expert
It might seem redundant to observe that we’d all prefer to buy from a salesperson who’s an expert on their product. As a consumer this seems like a bona fide no-brainer.
Ironically though, when we’re on the other side of the counter, there is a tendency for salespeople to miss the opportunity to assume the role of expert. Taking the position of expert is a vital component of a salesperson’s ability to close a sale.
For example, when asked a simple question like: “Which TV is good?”
An inexperienced salesperson, who fails to don the expert mantle, will respond: “These TVs are all really good.”
Technically, the customer’s question was answered, but the salesperson was so vague, indiscriminate and non-committal that in essence the customer may as well not have asked to begin with!
Compare that with a response that not only reflects expertise but also drives the customer towards more readily finding the right product, and not being overwhelmed in the process.
“Well, this TV here is ideal for home theatres; this one offers 3D capabilities; and this Smart TV has great internet connectivity. What sort of viewing will you be doing?”
The paradox of choice
As a consumer, it is very easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of product options. We live in a capitalist economy, where more choice is assumed to equal more freedom and thus greater welfare. Of course, there’s an upside to having 30 different TV models from which to choose.
But there is also a steep downside.
Barry Schwartz, an American psychologist, has even given this problem a name: the paradox of choice.
From a business perspective the more products and choice you offer, the better position you’re in. From a consumer’s point of view, having too many choices can actually become stressful; as the opportunity costs increase, confusion sets in and the magnitude of the decision becomes overwhelming.
When there is too much of an abundance of choice, the consumer actually feels worse because their expectations go up, leading to dissatisfaction and disappointment. If there’s one thing that a salesperson does not want their customer to feel, it’s disappointment.
Take the lead
This is where the art of selling comes in. As the expert, you’re in a position to take control and steer the customer towards the right decision, and ultimately a sale. You must provide the certainty that they lack. If you don’t help direct them, you’re placing the onus of responsibility on them and may lose out on closing the sale.
The key is working out what the right product is. If the product doesn’t suit the purchaser, you’re just trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
By gathering information, you’re in a position to work out for them which of your multitude of TVs is best. You’re in the position to present them with a solution, and not with a choice.
By simplifying the process the customer becomes happier with ‘their’ decision and the salesperson has a greater chance of actually closing the sale.
Always remember to be the expert.