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Think of a sale as a treasure chest. It's buried somewhere, and to find it, you have to read a map: the prospect.

Just like a pirate's treasure map, prospects can be hard to interpret. They'll try to lead you off the path by throwing out false clues about what they want. The most common of these is price. Buyers like to talk about price--it almost always appears to be the most important issue, if not the only issue.

But price is just one factor in a prospect's decision about what and where to buy. You need to dig deeper to find the buyer's wants and needs. These are the many intangible factors that go into a customer's buying decisions. They are usually more important than price, although customers may not always admit this. In general, customers want:

* QUALITY. Customers want products that are well-made, that will last, and that will perform the functions for which they were purchased. Most don't want poorly made products, even if they cost
less initially.

* SERVICE. Customers want to be treated as if they are the most important people in the universe--and when we're talking to them, they are. They want prompt, efficient service from courteous, friendly salespeople.

* SECURITY. Customers want to be reassured that they have made good buying decision: they want to know they are dealing with a company and salesperson they can trust. They want to believe that any problems they might have with their purchases will be taken care of with minimum of fuss and effort.

* A GOOD BUY. The best buy isn't necessarily the one with the lowest price tag. If you and your products meet the customers' other needs and your prices are reasonable, a purchase from you will often be the best buy.

The next time prospects seems stuck on the price issue, point out how well your product meets their other wants and needs.

Show them how well-made it is; mention your one-year warranty and your satisfaction-guaranteed policy; mention your service department's convenient hours; tell them how long your store's been in business; show them published reports demonstrating that your store's product is the most popular in its class: build value.

You'll find that when your product and store meet the customer's needs, price concerns will often be tossed away like so much sand.

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