Sales professionals know that once their customer knows the right thing to do they will do the right thing. In order for them to know the right thing to do, they must be taught. That is why great salespeople are great teachers.
In this instance, the CEO had not been taught a fundamental technique in sales. Excitedly he told me about "Feel - Felt - Found". When a customer raises an objection the salesperson can respond with, "I understand how you feel. Others have felt that way and what they have found is _____ ."
This is a generally accepted sales practice, GASP, a sales technique.
Techniques Do Not Work - Principles Do
Techniques do not work in sales. Most professional buyers have heard these techniques before and know what to do with them. And, most buyers are better at buying than salespeople are at selling.
The principle behind the technique, however, can be effective. Just don't use the exact words of the technique! This technique has three principles.
Principle #1: Show understanding or empathy - "I understand your position."
A customer's perception is to be treated as valid. After all, it IS valid to them. Business decisions are made on facts, not feelings. It is better to empathize with the customer using thoughts and facts rather than feelings. Use something like, "Yes; I appreciate the thought you have put into this," or, "Obviously you've given this some thought."
Principle #2: Show inclusion - "Others have felt that way."
Validate the customer's perception by showing that the way they think is not uncommon. Again, we're using thinking, not feeling. Say something like, "Most people see it that way," or, "That would seem to be the logical approach." Then take ownership of the misperception. "In our industry we have not been as good as we could be in educating our customers."
Principle #3: Show an alternative - "What they have found is _____ ."
When we teach, we show an alternative way of thinking. Since thoughts always precede actions, we are also opening up a new way for the customer to respond. We can confirm that this is a better way to respond when we reveal that others have had a positive result with this new action. Instead of using "found", use a word like "experienced" and "results". "Other customers have experienced better results when __________ ."
While feel-felt-found might be new to you, using those exact words can make you appear dated rather than cutting-edge. The next time you think about using "Feel - Felt - Found", focus on the principles behind it instead. You will find yourself being increasingly effective in sales.
Advanced Version for Seasoned Professionals
In addition to following the principles of "Feel - Felt - Found", qualify and quantify your "Found" statement. For instance, if your product or service will save time for your customer, be in a position to say something like, "Our customers have been able to save X man-hours in manufacturing and Y man-hours in engineering when using our product/service." That is qualifying where the cost justification will occur. Next, "Those savings offset the cost differential of our offering (not higher price!) in only Z weeks." That isquantifying your value.
Most Advanced Version
Have a tool the customer can use to calculate the cost justification themselves. A simple calculator for this example would allow the customer to enter:
- Your price
- Your competitor's price
CALCULATOR RESULT: Price difference in your offering
- Number of manufacturing hours they think they would save
- Weighted man-hour cost
- Number of engineering hours they think they would save
- Weighted man-hour cost
FINAL CALCULATOR RESULT: ROI based on customer inputs
Have your calculator designed to immediately show the ROI based on the customer's inputs.
Chuck Reaves, CSP, CPAE, CSO