The customer is always right: Sales staff frequently missing the mark on customer expectations, by not listening and not asking enough insightful questions

Hayley Kirton
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Salespeople are too pushy and don't listen enough, say customers (Source: Getty)

Salespeople regularly fall short of customer expectations, failing to measure up to their requirements, such as listening to what they actually want, a survey released today has found.

According to the survey conducted by Huthwaite International, 85 per cent of people believe that salespeople should listen carefully to them to make sure they getting what they want, but only 39 per cent felt this happened the last time they shelled out on a significant purchase.

Meanwhile, almost two-thirds (61 per cent) think it's important for sales staff to ask insightful questions to determine what exactly it is they need, but just a quarter (25 per cent) feel they were quizzed quite as much as they needed to be at the time of their last big purchase.

"It seems salespeople are getting a ‘could do better’ score on their report card from buyers," said Tony Hughes, chief executive at Huthwaite International. "If salespeople aren’t listening, it usually means they’re talking, often about the product. There’s a real danger in this because it means a missed opportunity to discover how they could help the customer."

Perhaps salespeople are simply misjudging what kind of service they should be offering. While just three per cent of consumers said they valued persistence in a salesperson, 18 per cent said it was a trait they witnessed when making their last major purchase.

Hughes added: "Sellers must take care not to get caught up in the excitement of talking about the bells and whistles their product or service may have – which if irrelevant will be ignored at best and at worst will irritate a potential buyer, lose a potential sale and have a negative affect on the bottom line."

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