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  • Writer's pictureamyk73

Understanding the Customer Journey

There a major road near us that is lined with car dealerships. Many brands from Honda, Toyota, Ford and even a Porsche dealer are lined up right next door to one another. I have often wondered if their parking lots were all connected too so someone could go lot to lot considering different brands, comparing features and negotiating prices. Outside the doors of every single one of those dealerships is a small crowd of sales people just waiting for someone to drive in. Some wear matching colored polo shirts and some wear more formal suits. Some look eager, some bored and many with the air of desperation while trying to act casual as they wait for you to open your car door.

It never fails that as soon as you pull in to a dealership, put your car in park and open your door, one of those casual standing sales people will come over to greet you. They’ll ask you questions like what are you looking for today and how can they help you. They will push a sweaty business card into your hand and check out your car saying they could make you a great trade offer that would get you into one of their newest models that just happened to come in. The experience for me completely drains the fun it otherwise is to browse all the new cars, taking in the sweet new car smell and checking out the latest gadgets and technologies. It also reminds me of the need to make sure I always have OnGuard Sanitizing Mist to clean my hands.

That same dreaded feeling and stickiness of a sweaty business card is what has lost customers and sales within the MLM or direct sales business. It’s not that you necessarily turned them off or pushed them away with your not so casual approach into their personal space but someone did and now they want nothing to do with looking at your pretty products, that beautiful new smell and they don’t want to know about the latest offers and specials.

Types of Customers

Sometimes when we shop we know what we are looking for and what we want or need it to have for our needs. We may have even taken it a step further done homework for the major purchases so we feel like informed an consumer to make the right choice for us well before we start shopping. There are people who shop like this for every single thing they need. I admit I try to do some casual browsing on some things but for the most part I am not this type of shopper though I know they exist and I appreciate their tenacity to get be this organized about shopping for big and little items.

There are also people who sort of know what they want but are open to seeing what is out there and making a choice based on options, benefits and price. They are open to hearing some information but will likely prefer to browse and ask questions as they have them. The majority of us are this type of shopper where we have a general idea of what we want or need but want to see the options for what might best fit our needs, likes and budget. The reason so many of us shop like this is that we are intersted in value and price and we may like the browsing aspect of shopping.

We’re open to hearing about special deals and discounts because that may influence our final decision. These types of shoppers tend to be price sensitive and want the most for their money.

Then there are the people who don’t know what they want but if they see something they like they will buy it with minimal questions asked and not much information about what they are getting. Many of us have shopped this way a time or two when we’ve seen something cute and it may or may not have been on sale but we bought it anyway. Sadly the majority of time when we shop like this it is a temporary feeling of satisfaction and we quickly forget about the purchase. This can be where emotional buying comes from and it can also be because we are bored.

Understanding the types of customer we are and what makes us buy something is how we can better understand our own customers in our business. If we can identify which type of customer they are we can adjust our messaging to their interests and find the right solution for their needs.

Customer Shopping Experience

It’s really clear that no one likes the car dealership experience. We feel hounded, pressured and like we have to make small talk about leather or cloth interior. It can be an awkward and unsatisfying buying experience. If we ourselves don’t like that then why in the world would we do it to our own customers in our direct sales business?

When you approach someone who appears they are shopping or that expresses an interest in what you have to offer that is not an invitation to give them your sweaty business card! It is not the right time to show them everything in your catalog and gush them with information about what’s on sale and what’s new. NO! This is the start of the customer experience and it is a beautiful process of gentle conversation and learning about that person in a genuine way.

Your first objective is to figure out with the right questions asked in the normal course of getting to know someone what type of customer they are. Do they already know what they want and just want to get it and go? Are they browsing and comparing looking for value? Are they just out to see if something is interesting? These answers are found in the unique personal conversations you have with someone after each of you says “hello.” Make this conversation natural and about them. Don’t ask what they are looking for or what they need instead find out who they are.

When you know some things about them including the type of shopper they are then you can start asking questions about their interests. Get to their heart and figure out what is really at the core for why they feeling and thinking like they are right now. What is going on in their lives to necessitate shopping? What keeps them up at night with worry? Why do they believe this product will fix that for them? Getting them to talk about them is key! So many sales people miss the point of being the person who guides someone to a solution rather than taking them by the hand directly to it. This is about them feeling like they found that solution themselves so they are more inclined to make it their own and want more of it.

Again, no where to this point have we mentioned products or what you have to offer. You are still very much just learning about them and this process can be very quick and smooth or it could take several different conversations over time. There is not a one size fits all approach to when they are done talking about what is going on in their life and why they feel they can turn to you for a friendly ear and guided help finding a solution.

Your second job is to get them to acknowledge their own need and what they need to do to fix it. You provide the prompts and are the guide during this process. You softly suggest, advise and gently talk through their needs as if they were your own. You make them feel like you their trusted confident who will help them and have their best interest in your heart.

If you can master these two things – 1) identifying what type of shopper they are and 2) listening and guiding with meaningful connection then you are likely to get the sale when they are ready to buy. You are building their trust that they can count on you and that you are going to do your very best for them because you understand them completely.

The majority of time though in sales we are too quick and desperate for our own needs to make a sale that don’t realize we are pushing people away and counter-acting any good that could come from our interaction with them. This is why people end up with a distaste for sales people in general and your direct sales or MLM business specifically. Making a sale has nothing at all to do about you.

Interested in more?

Direct sales and MLM businesses have a tough job. We are working against years of pushy sales people with sweaty business cards. We are attempting to demonstrate that those days are over and we know better. Your ability to demonstrate that through active listening, fostering a true connection and gently keeping the conversation on that person will help you make incredible strides in overcoming those resistances.

If you have questions or would like help, please contact me!

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