The best salespeople are good amateur psychologists. They are able to quickly assemble a mental profile of their prospect’s personality to better understand the issues that that prospect is facing. These salespeople / psychologists are often described as “good judges of people.” How do they do that?
They observe the prospect – their dress, accessories, and hygiene. They listen to speech pattern, inflection, vocabulary, and accent. They read body language… all in an instant. They know that, in many cases, one size does not fit all.
After a few moments of a personal encounter, the best salespeople have a fairly accurate understanding of the social, demographic, economic, family, and value issues facing the prospect. They can then ask probing questions based on these assumptions, to then offer features and benefits designed to appeal to that individual prospect.
Are the profile assumptions always right? No, but they are usually close. As the conversation goes on, the salesperson is constantly modifying the profile.
- Does the prospect for athletic shoes want to just look like an athlete or do they want to actually play the game better?
- Does the middle-aged couple who is looking for a home need living space for their children or for occasional visits from their grandchildren?
- Does the prospective buyer of industrial equipment need long-term multi-year reliability or is their need temporary?
- Does the owner of a car in need of mechanical work plan on driving long distances at high speeds or just for a three-mile commute?
In each of the above scenarios, the “one size fits all” salesperson will probably lose the sale or do a disservice to their prospect if they misread the prospect’s needs and wants. A good amateur psychologist-salesperson should be able to make the proper suggestions based on what they discover about the needs and wants of the customer.
- A $200 pair of athletic shoes might be appropriate for a young competitive athlete but not for a middle-aged three-hundred pounder (unless there is a style or ego issue involved).
- A 700-horsepower car is probably inappropriate for grocery-getting excursions.
- Few people looking to buy a studio condominium have three young children.
Informed salespeople have a big advantage. Either they discover that the product or service fits their prospect’s needs and wants, or they find that they are wasting time and go on to find a better fit between buyer and seller.
One size certainly does not fit all!