Darren Fleming is a speaker and trainer in the world of influence. He is also the author of Don’t be a D!ck – creating connections that make influence happen. In this guest post, Fleming offers a surprisingly easy way to win over the customer in any sales conversation…
In the world of psychology, the concept of self-interest bias is useful in predicting behaviour. When all things are equal, we will take action to serve our self-interest over the interests of others. While this sounds obvious, many sales people overlook this and focus on their interests – what they want to sell – not what the customer needs help with.
Focusing on your own interests is at the heart of relationship. In essence it is about building a relationship so you can sell them something. The problem with this approach is there is no benefit to the customer.
When your sales person says, “If you come to us you’ll have a first rate relationship manager look after your account to get the best product, service and price’, what they hear is, ’Go through the headache of changing suppliers and end up with what my current supplier promises.”
Relationship selling is a fantastic lock-in strategy, but it’s a terrible get-in one
Relationships will always be important, but in this time-poor, ultra-competitive, margin-squeezing world you need more. You have to offer something of value to first get in their diary and then win their business. This is the new way of winning people over.
At the simplest level, relationship selling is about being likeable. Be a nice person, offer great service to match your great product, and if you stuff up, fix it fast. To this end you’ve either got a strong relationship or a weak one. But if all sales people have strong relationships and a great product then there is no compelling reason for the customer to change. You’ll even find it difficult to get into their diary.
To go beyond the relationship you must offer some value. The easiest way to do this is to solve a problem.
Every business has problems. Their problems relate to production, distribution or a multitude of other areas. If you can help solve one of these problems you are seen as valuable. This gives them a reason to see you.
If you want to win a customer over, value is the new black. Value will win out over relationships every day when it comes to landing new business.
How Customers rate value and relationships
If the customer sees your rep as a likeable person, but does not think they offer value to their business they will dodge them. When your sales person calls asking for an appointment, the customer avoids committing. They state that it’s a busy time of year, but to call by anyway and if they have time they will see them. When customers do this they are keeping you as a second tier supplier to be used in time of emergency.
While this is not great, being liked and offering no value is still better than not being liked and not offering any value. Here the customer simply blocks the sales person. They ignore the calls, delete the e-mails and bin your brochures.
However, if your sales team leads with value they will have a much greater chance of getting an appointment.
Even if there is only a weak relationship, if your sales rep offers value the customer will permit your reps to come onsite. They will listen to the value they bring and decide if it is good for them. If they like what they see they may buy and the relationship can start to grow.
The most desirable place to be is where you offer value and have a great relationship with the customer. Here they want to see you. The signs that say “Reps will be seen on Tuesday by appointment only” do not apply to your team as they offer value to their business.
To win customers to your business you need to focus on value. The relationship you offer is only important if they have a reason to want to see your reps. When they can identify the value your business offers there will be a reason for them to speak to you. It is from here that you can build the relationship to win them over.