Situational Intelligence Part One: Reading Your Customers

Do you know how to read your customers? Mike Moore explains how to use observations and knowledge to pinpoint your customers’ needs.

By Mike Moore

The best tools for making more sales? Your eyes and ears! By combining your observations of customers’ behavior and situation with knowledge about demographics and the best products for your region, you can tailor each conversation to have the most impact.

Give the right cues

Whether it’s your first sales call or your hundredth, go in with enthusiasm and be ready to listen. The typical homeowner buys HVAC equipment once or twice in a lifetime, so it’s a big deal to them. Your customers want your knowledge, but they also want your attention and understanding.

Know the SCORE

The five steps in the SCORE process will help you gather the intel you need:

  1. S (Sensitive) - be sensitive to the customer’s needs and individual situation. Listen to understand.
  2. C (Customer-need analysis) - do a customer-need analysis. Listen some more.
  3. O (Operational) - note the operational conditions in the home. Look carefully at the equipment and other clues in the home.
  4. R (Recommendation) - make your recommendation, based on the customer’s needs and home conditions.
  5. E (Enthusiasm) - show enthusiasm to validate the customer’s choice.

All five steps are important, but you have to adapt them to your own personal style and the customer’s approach so your conversation doesn’t feel scripted. For example, on one call, you may be able to follow the SCORE steps in order, while on another call the homeowner may want to start by pointing out the operational conditions and then circle back to specific needs.

Adapt the conversation to suit your customers

You can use customer demographic information to fine-tune your conversations, too. Gender, generation, and other factors can affect how you and your customers approach the discussion.

For example, customer research shows that women make about 80% of the purchasing decisions in the household. When talking to couples together, your conversation will be more effective if you ask questions of both customers and listen to each person’s answers. When you’re talking to solo homeowners, treat both women and men as decision-makers.

Generational differences can affect the sales conversation, too. Millennials are usually more comfortable with technology and digital tools than Baby Boomers, so you can pull up information on your tablet to share while you talk with them. Older homeowners may prefer to see you use a notebook and pen as you take notes and assess their needs.

Of course, for each demographic guideline there are exceptions. Your demographic data should support your intelligence gathering, not replace it. Your customers must know you see them as individuals in order to feel comfortable buying from you.

Offer the best options for your area

There are many equipment options, and you can help your customers by focusing on the best equipment for your geographic region. Take the time to do that research and then share it with your customers to explain why you’re making particular recommendations. This validates their need for you to understand their situation, and it also sets your company apart by demonstrating your expertise.

Have questions about the role of demographics, geography, and other situational intelligence factors? Ask us on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook!

Did you know that HVAC Learning Solutions offers online training to help you connect with customers and boost your sales? Check out the Retail Sales Learning Path 2.

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