One of the most valuable skills for you to develop and practice is the ability to qualify needs. Your ability to properly qualify the customer's needs shows that you understand your customer and will let you meet those needs quickly and correctly. This is an area where the true professional will consistently perform efficiently and increase the number of regular customers—and their own earning potential.
"First General, Then Specific”
Some customers may know what they want, but many may not. Your job is to quickly identify the customer's needs. The easiest way is to ask an open-ended initial question such as “What did you have in mind?” The response will let you know immediately whether your customer knows what they want.
To maximize your efficiency and understand your customer better, continue asking general questions until you have sufficient information to show the customer a product, or to start asking the specific questions you need answered before you can begin suggesting a product.
The beginning general questions might be something like this:
“Could you tell me as specifically as possible what you had in mind?”
After the customer responds, follow up with a general question like “Is there anything else?” and keep going until the person says “That’s it.”
If you don’t have enough information at that point, then start asking specific questions until you get enough information so that you can begin to really help the customer. Please watch the video example for a demonstration.
The Budget Question
It is always a good idea to have the budget question answered before presenting a possible product. Although they may not have a hard number in mind, most customers do have a range that they will consider. Conversely, they also have a range or a specific number that they will not consider. Many sales have been lost—and many feelings hurt—by showing a customer a product that was too low-priced for someone who wanted to invest more (or, conversely, by showing a product that was priced too high to a customer who could not afford the offering).
It is imperative for you to get a sense of the customer's budget before showing any product.