The best way to increase your business is to acquire and retain customers. A key element in acquiring and retaining customers is the practice of fostering good relationships with them. The problem is, it’s all well and good to sit back and say “Let’s have better relationships with customers!”; the big question is, just how do you go about it?

Although that is a question with many possible answers, we intend to focus on the concept of the Selling Skills Assessment Tool (SSAT for short), and how they can improve customer relations by bridging the gap between skills, behavior, and results. There are two main questions to be addressed.

The Selling Skills Assessment Tool helps you take a closer look at your sales staff and identifies their strengths and weaknesses.

What Is The Selling Skills Assessment Tool?
The Selling Skills Assessment Tool is a diagnostic tool that provides an objective look at the skills and strengths of sales people, as well as identifying specific areas for growth. The SSAT gives a detailed, accurate quantification of your organization’s selling acumen, broken down by individual, by group and by total sales organization.

The survey takes only half an hour and consists of 25 scenario-based questions meant to assess the five core skills most essential for success in selling. Those skills are:

Opening a dialogue with customers by building credibility and trust.
Investigating the customers’ needs, assessing their unique situations, using listening skills and strategic questioning.

Presenting the services or products to the customer in context of solving their problems and meeting their needs.

Handling possible customer objections and getting that “yes”.

Building long-term customers for life, featuring items like cross-selling, referral strategies, and relationship management.

Since there are many different sales situations depending on the industry and sales positions, there are currently 18 different SSATs to choose from.

So How Does The SSAT Help Improve Customer Relations?
With this evaluation tool, a business can measure the effectiveness of their sales force and see where the strengths and weaknesses lie. According to the article “Understanding The SSAT As An Effective Sales Tool”, the SSAT “…provides you with sales analytics to help you identify gaps between sales skills, behavior and results.”

Social media has gone a long way towards actually facilitating access and increasing the level of communication between parties, in this case between a business and its potential customers. As a result, the latter’s expectations have been raised; they want to know that they matter, that whatever it is they purchase will be the answer to their problems, and that the seller won’t ditch them once the sale is made. Forget “the customer is always right” (a false statement, anyway!); instead it should be “the customer is a human being with feelings and needs”.

The SSAT benefits the business as well, since it not only helps make sure the staff is fully trained in the five core skills, it helps the sales staff acquire and keep customers. Everyone wins all around.

Also, consider the concept of buyers’ remorse, where the customer decides after the purchase that maybe they didn’t want the goods after all, and endeavor to take them back for a refund. A properly trained sales staff that can correctly analyze the customer’s needs and wants, then clearly convey the nature of the product to be sold and how it will fill that need, the less likelihood of a return.

Spotting Problems, Not Solving Them
Bear in mind, the SSAT doesn’t actually help train sales staff; it’s strictly a diagnostic tool that shows where the strengths and weaknesses lie. It’s up to the business itself to make sure all of its sales personnel are adequately trained.

This post was contributed by John Terra who has been a freelance writer since 1985. He wishes that they came up with Skills Assessment Tests for common courtesy, and people who failed them would have to live in isolation until they got a clue.