Emotional Rescue

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Consumers are skeptical. That's why it's your job as a salesperson to listen carefully to customers' reservations and turn them into reasons they need your product or service. The best way to do that? Emmett Wolfe, co-author with Kevin Daley of Socratic Selling (Irwin Professional Publishing), offers five pointers for getting beyond the emotional barriers customers put up:

1. Acknowledge the customer's fears. If a customer says he's been burned before in a sales transaction, don't tell him there's nothing to worry about. Instead, address his fears directly.

2. Find out what, specifically, the customer's reservations are. If a consumer says "I'm wary of buying from a company this size," ask specific questions about that fear--and soothe his worries. "Don't think you're wasting time asking questions," says Wolfe. "It's important because it gets you into the customer's mind."

3. Emphasize value. If the customer is afraid something he buys will be instantly dated, stress the ways in which being a small company allows you to stay on top of the latest technology.

4. Calm fears of lack of follow-up. Most customers are afraid that once they buy a product, the company they buy it from will disappear. Find out what kind of follow-up the customer would like--a monthly phone call? A periodic meeting? Let him know that if there are any problems with the product, you'll be there to help.

5. Tout the product or service's value to combat reservations about price. Customers who are distracted by the price lose sight of the product's value. Remind them of how value and quality pay off in the long run.

Above all, clarify customers' expectations. That's key to serving them well.

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