What do I mean by the Client’s NotionWhat I will be talking about here is understanding people’s concepts, notions or ideas rather than just trying to force them to buy products or services because we believe they should!

Any one who has attended any Miller Heiman Conceptual Selling workshop will have been exposed to what they call the Customer’s Concept? Simply put, it is what the customer or client has in their head! It could be about their ambitions, confidence, aspiration, or anything that makes him or her think they will benefit by accepting your product or service! Incidentally, we are not talking about bribing here!

To many of you who read this, I am sure that some of the points of view will not be new. However, it’s possible you haven’t thought about it in a while. It’s also very likely that if you have people who report to you, they will not have thought of this often, or in some cases, ever!

The traditional sales techniques used to focus on telling people about the features and benefits of their product or service. So if you were selling a new package, such as a can, the discussion would center around the sharp design of the aluminum,  the practicality of the ring pull and the clever design of the oval shape. To take those features and benefits to where the client wants to be is to express those things a little differently. For example: the sleek aluminum design makes it lighter so the consumer can purchase more to carry; the ring pull allows easy and fast opening; and the oval design of the mouthpiece allows more convenient drinking straight from the can!

Here’s a story to illustrate the point:

“This is the car for you. It has top-of-the-range shock absorbers and suspension, which means it’s extremely comfortable and provides a great ride with excellent gas mileage,” went the pitch to a middle-aged man who had just entered the car showroom. No questions have been asked, but because of the man’s age, the salesman had made certain assumptions about his needs. The man turned on his heel and left the showroom. A couple of days later, on driving into work and sitting at traffic lights, the salesman recognized the same man driving a car in the lane next to him. He was intrigued. He was so surprised that the man had left the showroom without a word. The salesman had been struggling with sales but he was positive that he knew how to sell and he knew how to close. He stretched himself and his safety belt as he arched his back so as to get a view across his passenger seat at the car the man was driving. He was shocked. It was a brand new red convertible corvette. Sitting next to the man was a beautiful blonde lady that looked about 15 years his junior.

If only the salesman had asked a few questions, he would have found out that the man had lost his wife several years ago, his kids were off at College and he had met a lovely, attractive woman who he was trying to impress. He had just gotten rid of his old comfortable car to his older son and now wanted a ride that he could enjoy and impress with. The salesman had never asked HIM what he wanted and why! He just made an assumption and then tried to sell him something based on features and benefits that he didn’t even want.

What I have just described was the Client’s Notion. What were the things the man wanted to accomplish with his purchase of the car? What was in his head when he entered the showroom. It most certainly wasn’t comfort and sedate driving. It was quite the opposite. He wanted to be free, to impress and drive a loud and fast car! Individuals have notions about what they want and what products or services will do for them. Companies do not have notions. Almost always, notions are personal, so when an individual chooses a product or path, it’s  because of what it will do for that person personally. Here’s some examples of notions: Fear of failure, lack of self confidence in making a decision, risk aversion, stress from boss or peers or both, needs results, worried about position, needs to make targets to get bonus, financial concerns, division under scrutiny, department not performing, etc.

All these are personal and are what drive people to make decisions or not!. However, until we take the time and ask the right questions, we will never know what our Clients Notions really are!

Successful closes come from understanding the Client’s Notion and then trying to find a solution for their need that fits with yours or your company’s  in a way that is a true win-win.