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Selling to consumers - Helpful information to gather during the sales call

When selling to consumers, regardless of industries and market segments, what information do you recommend a salesperson make a habit of gathering during his or her sales calls? - by Community Mailbox
When selling to consumers, regardless of industries and market segments, what information do you recommend a salesperson make a habit of gathering during his or her sales calls?
This is another one of those questions that might attract some bulleted lists. I'm going to shy away from that by sharing my basis of understanding on the topic.

First you have to understand that "consumers" for the most part spend their money three different ways. I'll name the first two so that we can dispense with them. I'm referring to consumable commodities that are a part of our daily lives, and, compelling expenditures, i.e. utilities, medical expenses, some forms of insurance, etc etc.

The third category which pertains to this topic and this forum is the bringing about of CHANGE. That is THE recurring theme in a world where people buy for a lot of reasons. The act of Selling to consumers (B2C), such as what some forum members here DO, is entirely an act of helping the prospect bring about change.

When we are addressing "helpful information" as the topic states, that information must pertain to change. Obviously the first piece of information has to be "change from WHAT."

We often stress the importance of questions in selling and sometimes we lose sight of the fact that questions are merely a part of a bigger picture--the EFFECTIVE conversation. So rather than the seemingly obligatory bulleted list, I'll state what that sales conversation should be about if we are to uncover the information.

The information should be about the past, the present, and the future, as it applies to why a prospect would seek change. What worked in the past in the area that the seller provides a solution for? What did not work? What's going on NOW, where a prospect might entertain change? What are the requirements of a change, both short term and/or long term for the future. Those requirements vary widely among prospects.

If you engage a prospect in a conversation about the reasons for change and the benefits of change, you will collect the pertinent information that will enable you to provide and facilitate the details of making that change (making the SALE). - by Ace Coldiron
You want to know what they think they want and how they decided on that plus the price they are considering.

You also probably want to know if this is a big decision and if they are using a set of criteria to evaluate option.

If they are just starting to research options you definitely want to know that.

You want to know when they want the solution and when they will make the buying decision.

You want to know what they want to accomplish during your meeting.

You want to find out what would stop them from taking action immediately - by Seth
Helpful information to gather with consumers.

How do you receive this helpful information? There are many ways to gather information from a client. Many have a belief that clients do not want to be sold. What I have found with the clients I am in contact with I must use all the resources available. Not all information gathered is by questions and answers.

My first step is observation. I observe the neighborhood and everything in each of the neighborhood yards. I notice the upkeep or lack of upkeep. I observe the driveways, how clean, cracked concrete etc. I take notice of the vehicles parked in the drives and along the road. I notice what kind of plants and how they are kept. This informs me of pride in their possessions and vanity.

I observe what the clients are wearing and may even start the conversations about what they are wearing. An example the client is wearing an Ohio State jersey or shirt. I immediately will focus on that as a start of the conversation. How they respond to those questions gives me a route I must follow. While the client is taking me to their issue we are still discussing whatever they want to discuss and where our conversation is heading. When I am at the problem I always repeat these words I can fix that or I can take care of that.

While walking to the problem I am now observing what I am passing as I