Let Them Eat Worms!

Strawberry on a hook.You wouldn’t fish with a strawberry would you?

The following is a poignant message from one of our training consultants, Beth Bressan, that we should all remember.

During a recent trip to Florida to visit my son, we decided to go fishing. We got a boat; set up all of our gear, and headed out for the day. My son baited his hook with a worm. I reached into my lunch box and pulled out a strawberry which I put onto my hook. My son glanced over and gave me one of those looks only a teenager can give his (hopeless) mother and rolled his eyes asking, “What exactly are you doing?” I replied that I thought the fish would prefer to eat strawberries than worms – I certainly do. He gave a heavy sigh and replied “Mom, you’ve got to give them what they want, not what you’d prefer.”

As I thought about this exchange, I realized that his advice was not only true of fishing, but also true of selling. We too often think about our needs, —which products we need to sell, how to reach our quota, etc. — rather than the needs of the customer. What, in fact, does your customer need? Your customer needs your credibility but may or may not really need the product or service you want to sell. Your customers value what will minimize their risks and what will best meet your customers’ applications.

It has been determined by customer research that there is a four minute phenomenon-—the time in which it takes for you to make an impression on a customer. (I’ve had dates where that was a four second phenomenon, but that’s another story). To make the best impression possible be pro-active in your approach to discovering what your customer needs and wants. Actively listen to both the verbal and non-verbal clues and clarify by paraphrasing what you think your customer said.

We hear all too often about being customer-focused or, as the new buzz word calls it, “customer-centric”. The origin of the word “customer” derives in part from the Latin “sui” or “suus” meaning “oneself”. No wonder my customers don’t want my strawberries — my customers want what they are accustomed to and if you plan on selling to them, give them worms if that is what they want.