Guide the customers into the direction that you would like them to behave, make them feel like its their own decision and not forced into following your suggestion.
When I was working as a insurance broker, I always provide customers with different options. Even though I have provided the different options, most often I have a predefined choice that I want the customers to take. Customers do not like to be told what decision to make. Customers certainly do not like to be persuaded into a selection. Customers like to be in charge, they like to make their own decision, or at least think that it was their own decision. So how do I make them think that it was their own decision?
Often, I start my interaction by letting the customer do most of the talking, ask meaningful questions and you will be surprised that how conversational some customers could be. At this point in time, I am mostly gathering information about the customers. I'm gathering information about what the customer cares about, what he likes, what he doesn't like, what he is afraid of, his interest, his family, his job, his thoughts...etc. However, this doesn't mean that you should throw out random questions, each question that you ask should be tied with a purpose, and should bring you closer and closer to your goal.
If you are interacting with a person for the first time, your first few questions should be about making connections. Try to create opportunities to compliment the customer, no one dislike being complimented,
1. A simple greeting (How are you doing? Nice weather today...)
2. A simple compliment (Nice office, your company seems to care a lot about the employees ; thank your for picking out this coffee shop to meet with me, good selection, good taste ; you looking very sharp... )
After you started a simple conversation, ALWAYS know how much time you are able to get by asking it. Always assume that they have something coming up
1. Thank them for their time and acknowledge that they have a busy schedule even if you know they don't
2. Ask how much time you have before they have to leave
Once you know how much time you are able to get, you can better plan your meeting or your sales pitch. If you know that you only have 15 minutes, then you probably do not want to spend 10 minutes chatting about irrelevant topic and should get to the point as soon as possible. If you know that you have a full hour, you could probably spend more time building up a connection...
Then you go about gathering more information about the customer. At this point in the your questions should aim to be very relevant to the topic of discussion.Every now and then you could even challenge the customer in a soft way by asking them some questions or by asking for their opinions to guide the customers in the direction that you would like them to take.
Here is a questioning strategy that you can keep in mind when guiding the customers in your direction
Ask the customer about a goal that he would like to accomplish. Confirm this goal with the customer. Let the customer know that if he wants to achieve this goal then he needs to take a certain option. The other options also have their benefits, but at the end of the day it may not help them accomplish his targeted goal.
Lets demonstrate an example
When I was trying sell an endowment policy to the customer for retirement purpose, in a gist this how it goes
Me: Do you agree that you are able to makes many different choices in life, such as, what car to buy, to get married nor not, to have a child or not, to purchase a house our not?
Customer: Yes, I have control over it
Me: How about growing old? Do you have the ability to control if you would like to grow old or not?
Customer: No, I would love to but I'm 100% thats out of my control
Me: To confirm, you are absolutely sure that you will grow old
Customer: off course, duh..
Me: Ok, great. Lets talk about the different financial products on the market. Do you invest in stocks, mutual funds, forex...
Customer: Yes, I have purchased some stocks over the years, and have placed some of my money in mutual funds
Me: Right now, could you predict the price of your stocks or mutual funds one month, six month, one year...from now?
Me: How about the price next week or even tomorrow?
Me: Ok, so you would agree that you have no control over the price of your stock portfolio and funds
Customer: Yes, I have no control over it
Me: Ok, there are many different financial instruments on the market, each financial instruments has its characteristic. There is no good or bad financial instrument, only whether the financial instrument is suitable for you or not. You decide if the financial instrument is suitable for you by the goal that you are trying to accomplish. If it is able to satisfy your goal, then it is an good instrument, if not then its probably not a good choice. For instance, the characteristic of a stock is that it could sky rocket within a very small timeframe, at the same time it could go the other direction as well, causing you to loose a lot of your money. The point is that you never know for sure, it is not in your control. Do you agree?
Customer: Yes, I agree
Me: Ok, going back to the things in life. You cannot control growing old, therefore you must plan for it. You need to plan for your retirement, ensuring you will have enough when you retire since you can't work forever. How do you plan on saving up enough money for retirement?
Customer: Well, I can start saving each month, and invest more...instead of spending most of it
Me: Great, thats the right thinking. Now its about choosing the right financial instrument for the purpose of retirement. As we mentioned you cannot control growing old therefore you need an instrument that you could control for your retirement plan. Why? lets say you are 65, and suddenly the stock market goes crashing and your worth gets divided in half. How do you feel about spending twice as less at retirement?
Customer: Thats terrible!
Me: Ok, I have an instrument here called an endowment policy, you are able to control how much you are able to get back 1 year from now, even better, you can know exactly right now on how much your endowment policy is going to be worth 5, 10, 20, 30...years from now. Its an financial instruments that you could control.
Customer: Great, this is what I need, how much interest does it pay?
Me: 4% compounded annual interest rate
Customer: thats very low, if I get lucky I get make more than that in the stock market in one day.
Me: Yes, if you get lucky. I absolutely agree, if you compare to the opportunities that you are able to get in the stock market, the return is minimal. However, remember what we have just discussed. You can't control and you are certainly growing old each day, you need an instrument that you can control over to plan this uncontrollable event. If an event that you are planning for is certain to happen and you have no control over, then you need an controllable instrument with certainty to reach your goal.
Customer: yes, I agree
Me: When planning for the events in life. You should always diversify your investment portfolio. High risk comes with high return and vice versa. Stock can be an good investment option depending on your purpose. Give your current income, for your retirement I would recommend you to place 70% in the endowment policy and 30% in stocks and mutual funds. With that, you if you loose the money from your stocks and mutual funds, you will always have the other 70%. At the end of the day, you have the opportunity to make big money, but also being able to diversify your risk through the endowment policy.
Customer: Where do sign?