ALAN O’NEILL

When ap­proach­ing a ma­jor or­gan­i­sa­tion with a prod­uct or ser­vice, it’s vi­tal to know the needs and wants of its rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers at ev­ery level

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE - WHICH OF YOUR CUS­TOMERS’ STAKE­HOLD­ERS IS THE DE­CI­SION-MAKER?

SOME years ago, a good friend of mine went out shop­ping for a new car. For three or four Satur­days in a row, he vis­ited ap­prox­i­mately 15 dif­fer­ent show­rooms in Dublin. From Volvo to Mercedes and from Re­nault to Ford, he tried them all. Ar­guably a shy but friendly man, he browsed and kicked tyres as he pon­dered to what ex­tent each car suited his needs. He did the rounds on his own as his even qui­eter wife stayed at home and left him to it.

In each show­room, he’d sit in to the car and fid­dle around with the seat con­trols. He’d push the seat as far for­ward and as high as he could, look­ing like an ee­jit as his nose nearly touched the wind­screens. This man’s wife is 4ft 10 and his pri­mary buy­ing cri­te­rion was for the seat to be ad­justable to suit her. Now you may be won­der­ing why she didn’t go with him. Don’t even go there, she just didn’t.

But here is the in­ter­est­ing thing: only some of the sales­peo­ple en­gaged him in con­ver­sa­tion (usu­ally with pushy sell­ing ques­tions), and not even one asked him why he was do­ing it. There are two sig­nif­i­cant is­sues of rel­e­vance here. One is that sales­peo­ple con­tin­u­ally miss the op­por­tu­nity to ask the right ques­tions of a cus­tomer. The best sales­peo­ple know how to ex­tract rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion (buy­ing mo­tives) from the cus­tomer.

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