You live and breathe your products every day. You understand the fine differences between each of your products. However, your customers don’t know, and often don’t care, about the details. They just want to know if you can solve their problem.

Too often, business owners and sales people assume their customers are as familiar with the product or service as they are. The result can be the lack of a sale or an unsatisfied customer. Consider this case in point:

One morning, I wandered into Panera with several friends. Glancing at the menu, I found my favorite Egg White and Avocado Power Sandwich. After I placed my order each of my friends ordered Power Sandwiches as well. You can imagine our surprise when the sandwiches delivered to my friends were dramatically different from what I received.

Thirty minutes later, after much confusion, multiple conversations and the sandwiches being remade several times we discovered there is more than one Power Sandwich on their menu. As we waited for our sandwiches we talked about how backwards it seemed that Panera expected customers to be well informed in order to buy and enjoy their product.

So how do you avoid this situation in your business. 

  • Don’t assume. Ask questions. Even if a customer comes in looking for a purple widget with feathers, be sure that is really what they want. In the case of our Panera experience, if the cashier had mentioned there were multiple power sandwiches, a lot of confusion could have been avoided.
  • Offer suggestions. Maybe a pink widget will do the job better, but the customer might not know you carry pink widgets.
  • Encourage customers to ask questions. I know it interrupts the flow of your sales pitch, but it is better to get all the questions out early. If not, you may spend a lot of time talking about features which are irrelevant, and leave the customer feeling unsatisfied.
  • Create a list of frequently asked questions and post them on your website. Some people don’t want to come into a conversation unprepared. Being able to browse your FAQs gives them the basics. Now you don’t have to waste valuable time in the sales conversation. Also, making the information easy to find will give them the confidence that you will be willing to answer all their other questions.
  • Write a blog post or offer a download of a checklist of things a customer might need before they buy from you.
  • Confirm the order. Even after you think you have closed the deal, take a few minutes to confirm verbally or in writing what you have agreed to. It is much easier to hammer out fine points before you have started working on the project.
  • Train your staff. It is easy to keep all this in mind if you are the only person selling, but if your business is going to grow, you will need to bring others on to talk with clients. Be sure they are ready to get the order right when they do.