Revealing the client’s needs is always at the basis of any sale. In order to sell something, it’s first necessary to form a person’s need for it. Purchases are made when a person lacks something, whether these are things, emotions, opportunities, and so on. It’s quite logical that if the client wasn’t interested in the services of the club, he wouldn’t be standing in front of you now. The task of the administrator is to find out during the meeting how to convert the interest of the client directly into the need.
As a rule, decisions to make a purchase lies either in rational or in emotional plane. In the first case, the guide to action is a cold calculation, when a purchase is made on the basis of purely logical conclusions and technical characteristics. In the second case, the client is guided by the visual images formed in his mind, sound and / or tactile sensations.
According to research in the field of sales, there’s a fairly specific algorithm of actions that describes the process of making a purchase by a client. First of all, a person mentally imagines that he has already made a purchase, then, in order to justify the need for an acquisition, he finds concrete arguments in its favor and, in the end, because he has justified the expediency of the purchase for himself, he confidently makes it. Again, according to research, the vast majority of people shop exactly this way.
Revealing the client’s needs
Needs are usually divided into three types: explicit, hidden and unformed. The first ones are the easiest to work with, as in the course of communication the client either talks about them himself, or proceeds with this after the first leading question. It’s more difficult to work with hidden needs, because for one reason or another, the client can keep silent about them. These can be various defects in physical state, mental disorders, family problems, financial difficulties, and so on. As for the third category of needs, here we are talking about those images that aren’t yet formed in the mind of the client and which, with a skillful approach, are created directly by the administrator. Since he identifies and forms these needs, he also reserves the right to operate with the criteria for their selection.
Without a doubt, the easiest way to identify client’s needs is to pose specific questions. There are open, closed, alternative, suggestive and clarifying questions. Since the questions need to be selected for each person individually, it must be remembered that the conversation is controlled by the one who asks them, which means that you always should keep the initiative in your hands.
Why participation is important
To successfully form the client’s needs, you must be actively involved in the communication process. A conversation with him needs to be actively maintained, and this can and should be done using special techniques of the so-called “active listening”. This process implies that you are not interrupting the interlocutor, not interfering in the conversation, and at the same time, showing him your involvement and interest in what he says. The administrator must show the client that he is carefully listening to what is being said. There are two such methods.
- Verbal participation. You periodically say “yes”, “so”, “understood”, and so on. The technique of repeating the last words of the client is also successful. This works as a direct demonstration of the fact that you are not only listening, but also remembering what he is talking about.
- Non-verbal participation. It’s all about gestures, facial expressions and poses. Avoid closed poses when arms or legs are crossed, as this is often perceived as closedness. Show yourself open to communication, smile and keep eye contact with the interlocutor.
How to work with hidden needs
So, with obvious needs, everything is extremely simple, often the client himself speaks about them, because they are already formed. At the same time, clients are often silent about hidden needs for one reason or another, which means that to determine them you need to be familiar with the appropriate markers. The “markers” are situations where the behavior or speech of the client implicitly betrays him. The task of the administrator is to reveal these markers immediately and on their basis quickly form the client’s needs. Here are examples of some typical markers.
- The client looks pretty thick, although he says that the reason for visiting the fitness club is not a weight loss. In this case, it’s necessary to form the need implicitly. It’s not necessary to say that he needs to lose weight or that he will be helped here with weight loss. You just need to insert into your speech information that you have various classes at the club which help to burn calories.
- The client is interested in the depth of the pool and in the presence of a personal trainer, but doesn’t openly say that maybe he doesn’t know how to swim. In this case, it’s necessary during the presentation to unobtrusively provide data on the length, depth and number of lanes of the pool, and also that there are enough of certified trainers in this area who can give a hand if necessary.
- The client is interested in the age category of club members, but doesn’t openly say that he is looking for a soul mate, business partners or just new acquaintances for communication. Here it’s necessary to say everything regarding visiting the club and its various zones by clients of age categories “from and to”, indicating the ratio of men and women.
Forming the needs with questions
Now only when we have figured out how to keep in touch with the client, you can go directly to the main task. It may seem strange, but needs can also be formed by questions. At this stage, the administrator’s task is to put the conversation in the right direction with various types of questions, with the goal to push the client to certain considerations. The advantage of forming needs through questions is that, compared to the standard presentation, where you offer a ready-made solution, here you provide the client with the opportunity to form his needs on his own. In the first case, the client often resists the decision imposed by you, in the second case, the administrator avoids barriers and objections from the client, because the client seeks a solution by himself.
TIP. Here’s a simple example of a proposal for a ready-made solution and an option with a question. A ready-made solution: “Since you don’t have any experience in the gym, I think you’ll need a personal trainer”. Here, the administrator imposes a decision on the client that he may not like. Option with the question: “How do you assess your capabilities in terms of self exercising?” If a person has really little or no experience at all, he will tell you that it would be nice to work with a trainer. Got it? The administrator by asking a question, forms in the client’s mind the need for training with a personal trainer.
How to form the needs consistently
The process of forming needs consists of four consistent stages – four questions. First of all, the so-called situational questions are used, which are aimed at clarifying the general state of affairs. With these questions, needs formation zones are usually can be probed easily. When you find such a zone in the client’s response, it’s necessary to move on to problematic questions, that is, to those that indicate the presence of an objective problem. Such a question usually helps the client understand that there really is a problem and there is a need to solve it, but is it so great? For this purpose, the third point is the extracting questions that are needed in order to increase the severity of the problem in the mind of the client. Then, as soon as he realized how serious and great his problem is, we move on to directing questions. They are needed in order to form the value and usefulness of the proposed solution. Here below you can see an example of competent needs formation.
- Situational question. “Are you planning to visit our club for fitness classes, exercising in the gym, or maybe swimming in the pool?” The administrator forms the criteria of need, and the client provides the answer: “I am more attracted to the gym”.
- Problematic question. “How do you assess your current level of your physical fitness?”. The administrator focuses the attention on the problem, and the client forms its presence in his mind and answers: “Have you seen my belly? I need to get rid of it!”.
- Extracting question. “How does your current physical state affect overall well-being?” The administrator extracts the true meaning of the problem, which the client voices on his own: “I have a hypertension and a laboured breathing plus my knees hurt”.
- Directing question. “Could the gym help you to solve this problem?” The administrator pushes the client to justify his choice, and the client replies: “I think it could. By using treadmills and of course, with help of a personal trainer I guess”.
This is certainly a very concise example of dialogue, but using the right questions in the right order allows you to achieve phenomenal results in working with clients. A situational question is used to find a problem. A problematic question focuses on it. The extracting question increases its importance in the mind of the client. The directing question allows him to describe the need of its solution by himself.
Often people come to the club when they decide that it would be nice to start visiting a fitness club, but why they don’t know exactly. For clients who are in the process of revealing their needs and saying something like “well, I just decided to start exercising” or “I decided to take care of myself”, usually the most common presentation is required. Men more often choose gym membership, women more often choose group classes. To both you can safely offer a swimming pool. In any case, no matter what client you work with, whether he knows why he came or not, your task is to either reveal and form his need in membership, or if it’s already formed, correct it and give it the right direction.
Author – Felix Palmer