3 Steps to Realistic Time Management

The 3 Levels of Customer Interest

By James A. Baker 
Founder and CEO
Baker Communications

Most of the time, customers do not come to you knowing exactly what they want to buy. They may not think they need to buy anything, or at least not right now. They may know they need something, but not exactly what. They may think they know what they want - but they might be wrong.

Your job as a sales representative is to evaluate both the customer’s situation and their level of interest. Some experienced salespeople may know immediately how to solve the customer’s problem, but then make the mistake of assuming that the customer also understands their reasoning and accepts their solution. Trying to push a solution on the customer without involving them in the decision-making process is a huge mistake that erodes trust and causes the customer to push back. The representative needs to help the customer understand and acknowledge his own situation and its implications, so that the customer can help create and select a solution.

The Three Levels of Customer Interest

Customers actually have three levels of interest:

  • Numb  

The numb customer has no concern or interest. The customer is indifferent or happy with the status quo. He may feel he has no reason to act, but perhaps he is in denial, or is misreading the situation. The numb customer is often misinformed, unrealistic, or poorly advised. He rationalizes a way out of recognizing his current need.

  • Pain

The customer has a real need that is hurting his business. This pain is causing anxiety for the customer, and while he now sees and admits the problem to himself, he might not share his concerns freely with the salesperson. What the customer has right now does not meet his current needs. He is in the market for a solution, but if no solution is found, he will rationalize his way back into a state of numbness.

  • Ready to Act:  

The customer who is ready to act acknowledges his problem, has worked through the diagnostic process with the representative, and has explored and discovered a good solution. 

Moving Through the Levels of Interest

The customer is focused on one thing: his own priorities. He is looking for specific solutions or benefits that resolve the gaps in his business. The only question he wants answered is: “What’s in it for me?”

The key to helping a customer move to a “ready to act” level of interest is clearly spelling out the value that you can offer to meet his explicit needs. You must be a companion on his journey, staying in sync with his emotional state and helping him discover both the root of his problem and the value of your solution - what is in it for the customer.

The customer is unlikely to volunteer information about his explicit needs unless you ask questions. Once you get him talking and he does articulate a need, one of the best ways to use the information is to incorporate it into a FAB or benefit statement. Benefit statements can be used to build value during the call and to commun­icate the solution to defined customer problems.

Take the need as explicitly stated by the customer, and outline:

  • Feature - a specific feature or service characteristic that you can offer
  • Advantage - what the feature or service offering does for the customer
  • Benefit - connect the dots between the feature and his explicit need, stating specifically how it will help him with his problem and what value he will gain
  •  By asking diagnostic questions and using FABs to demonstrate to the customer in specific terms “what’s in it for him,” you can help him move from numbness, through pain, and become ready to buy.

Baker Communications offers leading edge training solutions for sales makers and sales managers that will help you address the goals and achieve the outcomes addressed in this article. For more information about how your organization can achieve immediate and lasting behavior change that will uncover new opportunities, drive revenue, and boost your bottom line, click here.

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