What Are your Customers Really Buying?

If you sell products rather than services then the answer to the question “What do your customers buy from you?” would, at first sight, have a very simply answer: the product. But if we look at this question more carefully it quickly becomes apparent that this simplistic answer is, in fact, wrong.

The truth is that the customers of sales people selling products are not really buying the product. What they are doing is exchanging their money for two things that the product does for them. These are:

1. A sense of well-being and greater security, and
2. A solution to a problem they have, or they think they have.

Many product sales people forget this important consultative selling principle when presenting their products to potential customers and as a result they do not achieve the sales results they really ought to be getting.

For example, the customer who buys a new car does not want to be sold a motor vehicle by the sales person - what they are really looking for may be a car that is comfortable because they have to drive long distances, or a car that will keep their children safe on the school run. Likewise, when buying toys for young children, the customer is looking for something that will keep their children quiet and amused for a long time. In other words they are looking for what the product will do for them, not for what the product is.

If the sales person gets this wrong, then he or she will try to sell to the customer by pointing out all of the interesting features their product has. This approach is unlikely to lead to a sale being made.

So the important lesson here for the product sales person is do not fall into the trap of selling “things” to your customer when what they really want is ideals, feelings, self-respect and happiness… instead you should sell them the benefits of your products. This is the core principal behind effective consultative selling where the acronym FAB is used to remind sales people that the Features their products have can be turned into Advantages for the customer, which in turn can be sold as Benefits for the customer. It is not a difficult principle to understand, yet sadly many sales people have not taken the time to turn the many features their products have into possible benefits for customers and so are unprepared when talking to a potential customer.