In Part 1 I challenged you to think seriously about why your customers buy from you. I hope that I convinced you that understand the mind and motivation of your customer is far more important than mastering “sales techniques.” As we so often tell our consulting clients, “if you want to know why John Smith buys, you have to see the world through John Smith’s eyes.”
In this post I want to share some common answers we’ve gleaned from our clients customers in the past. These responses came from all categories of business: professional service providers, mass retailers, direct sales, specialty retail, wholesale to business, wholesale to consumer. These are not isolated responses from customers that are unlike your customers. What I want you to see is that these are customers exactly like yours. Except for the first one, these responses are in no particular order. I’ll elaborate on the first one because it is so critical to your success.
- I like my sales rep.
“Liking” is the single most powerful element in a sales relationship. I know that there are sales gurus out there who preach that your customer doesn’t have to like you, just respect you. BUNK! People do not want to associate with, let alone have a business relationship with, someone they don’t like. So unless you are the only person in your market area, or in the entire universe of the internet, that has your product or service (and we know that is not true!), then establishing a personal connection with your prospect is critically important.
Here’s the formula: Like leads to trust. Trust leads to buying. Buying leads to relationship.
Let me share a personal example. I’ve traveled extensively in Central Asia, China, and Sub-Saharan Africa developing micro-enterprise programs at the village level for several NGO’s. When you get outside of America there is a dynamic to the sales process that is quite different from what we do here. Our focus is always getting to the bottom line quickly. “You need this widget, I have it, here’s what it costs, I can have it here next week, let’s get it done.”
Not true in the rest of the world. There is a process to the sales cycle that is consistent regardless of country or culture. First, we are introduced to the village elders. They take time, several hours, to show us around their village. We might stop at someone’s home for a cup of tea and a biscuit, and more conversation. Eventually we arrive at one of the Elder’s homes for a formal meal attended by all the village leaders, the Imam of the local mosque, and we “visitors from America.”
During the meal we talk about our homes and families. I always travel with photos of my wife and two daughters and places we have visited together. They share about their lives and what is going on in their village and the surrounding region. This meal can go on for five or six hours. At the end, if things have gone well, we’ll be invited to spend the night in the village and get together the following day for more conversation.
What is going on here? We are working on “like.”
Now the challenge you face with your customers is certainly simpler. You will not often be communicating through interpreters and crossing several cultural bridges in your selling situations. But the initial challenge is exactly the same: working on “like.” If you have no “like,” you’ll have no business.
Here’s the rest of the list:
- I believe my sales rep.
- I trust my sales rep.
- I have confidence in my sales rep.
- I am comfortable with my sales rep.
- I understand what I am buying.
- I feel the product/service meets a need I have.
- The price seems fair, but is not necessarily the lowest.
- I believe this product/service will increase my productivity.
- I believe this product/service will increase my profit.
- I perceive that my salesperson is trying to help me build my business.
Remember, these are the answers most often given to the basic question: why do you do business with the salesperson/company that you buy from? Did you notice something curious? Nowhere in these answers do you find , “because they’re the cheapest.” Too often we leap to the assumption that price is the only important component we can compete on.
Concentrate on building a relationship with your prospects, focus on “like” and sales will follow.