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Suggestive Selling – The Art of Planting Seeds

Before the sale takes place (but during the sales process), we always talk about “planting seeds” (throughout our interaction with the prospect) which will be “harvested” later by pre-conditioning the prospect to accept your idea or suggestion as his own.

Use Discovery to uncover the “issues” that are causing the customer to seek out a solution that involves your product or service.  Mention a possible solution or even how a past client had a similar issue and found the solution was X. It’s important to leave the matter at that point and move on, knowing that later in the process, the customer will frequently offer up your solution as the one he had been thinking about implementing.

Now I’m not talking about the well-known phrase you once were likely to hear at the fast food drive-in window, e.g., “would you like to super-size that?” I am talking about a much more subtle approach that is part of an orchestrated series of seeds sprinkled about (in the prospect’s mind/brain) as seemingly innocent comments or questions that will later “sprout” and make it possible for the prospect to accept the value of your offering and presentation. The key phrase is the value of your presentation or solution for the buyer.

After the sale takes place, the novice or poorly trained salesperson is often happy just to have a customer make a buying decision for the primary item and then assume that the only other decision to be made is method of payment.  The professional salesperson, however, views the selling process as just beginning at the point where the initial sale is closed. The truth is that making the decision to buy does not quench the buyer’s desire – it actually heightens it. This is where the true professional moves from average success to top-performer status. The decision to “pull the trigger” on a purchase actually ignites most buyers to consider (or be receptive to) the idea of enhancing the initial purchase with accessory products that will add to the ownership experience (in a practical or even emotional way). That new sporty compact car that the buyer just agreed to purchase would look great with tinted windows or it would be useful to have a bike rack installed for those trail riding outings, etc.

My point is that these can (and should) be suggested once the deal is done, however, if they were touched on much earlier in the process, the odds of getting a “yes” are much improved. That’s because the buyer will have retrieved that idea from a comment that created a thought process he can’t exactly remember the origin of.  Let’s take the tinted windows example and a typical scenario:

You have met a prospect in the new car showroom and have moved through the Meet/Greet and Discovery phases and are presenting the features of the vehicle under consideration. If your Discovery questions indicate that the prospect values styling and appearance as a buying criterion, you might say “this vehicle in the showroom has had the windows tinted while the one over there is as it comes from the factory. Don’t you think the tinted windows add an elegant touch?” This is not really a trial close and you don’t even need an answer. You just want to get a reaction and then move on. If the reaction is quick and negative, you will probably not be asking if he wants his new car’s windows tinted in an hour from now when he finally agrees to buy the car. BUT, if you get no reaction or a “maybe” facial expression, those tinted windows will be a natural suggested add-on (or used to close the deal) at the end of the process. The customer will consider you to be a smart and attentive salesperson for being turned into things that are important to him (even though his brain has been noodling about it only because you raised it as an innocent off-the-cuff comment an hour or more earlier).

Suggestive selling works and it can add significant dollars to your sales volume and margin. When done consistently, suggestive selling also demonstrates improved service and therefore added VALUE to the customer.

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