Sometimes our life-experiences can get in the way of our sales presentations. Several years ago I consulted with a small health and wellness studio that was just beginning to expand its offerings. The owner decided to hire one of the front-desk staff to be her dedicated salesperson and customer care specialist.
This newly defined role would be to meet with new clients, go over their health goals, follow up with them throughout their series and try to convert them to a year membership. At the time, the year membership was just $99.00 per month and included unlimited classes. The clientele consisted most of upper income and upper-middle income women. The studio was located in one of Seattle's wealthier neighborhoods: big homes, big lawns, big cars.
The new saleswoman (we'll call her Fae) had a great personality, was warm, friendly and engaging. Fae was on the path to becoming an instructor herself and was the studio's teacher training program, so we certainly knowledgeable. She knew the studio's offering inside and out, she was great on the phone and everyone liked her.
Her strengths shone through during the initial consultation and throughout the series when she checked in with clients, but she fell short when it came time to ask for a yearly membership commitment. While she could sign people up when they knew what they wanted, she shied away from up-selling or suggestive selling further offerings.
Since Fae would get a sign-up bonus for each membership she sold, she came to me for advice on what she was doing wrong. After all, she wanted that money!
After a lengthy discussion, we realized the Fae's issue was she simply couldn't comprehend how someone could afford $99.00/month (more than $1,200.00 per year after taxes) to have a studio membership. Fae was young, hadn't been to college and lived with roommates while existing on slightly better than minimum wage from the studio, plus what she made bar-tending in the evenings. In her heart-of-hearts Fae knew she couldn't afford such extravagance and she had never been around anyone who could, so the entire concept was foreign to her. In Fae's mind, $99.00/month for studio classes seemed like a waste of money and she was being intrusive when asking for that kind of monetary commitment from others.
You must remember that your clients are not you. They have different needs, different financial situations, different triggers and different wants. As a small business owner and/or salesperson, it is your job to figure out what your client wants, what they need, what they can afford, and tell them exactly how your business will fill those needs.
With time and practice, Fae understood that other people had not only different circumstances, but also different priorities from herself, and excelled in her new position.