Are You Making a Sale or Making a Client for the Long Haul?
By Frank C. Bucaro
Let’s face it, a major challenge to the sales process is that it is
often difficult to put the time and energy that goes into developing
quality, long-standing relationships with every potential
customer. More often, it is much easier to service the customer,
make the sale, or accept their rejection and move on. Achieving and
surpassing your goals determines success, not the ‘warm and fuzzies’
of building a relationship with prospects and clients, right? Wrong!
continually strive to build a relationship with potential or current
clients, you’ll find that even the toughest objections may not be
the end of the relationship. Today’s marketplace presents aggressive
quotas and almost impossible deadlines. In that kind of environment,
many salespeople focus on numbers of prospective clients rather than
focusing on the quality of each relationship. For many sales
professionals, thinking long term on a customer-to-customer basis
does not seem to be worth the time. It can often be more difficult
to think of what the customer could potentially purchase, who the
customer could refer in the future or how long the customer may stay
with the company.
The trick is,
the sales strategy does not have to be an either/or plan. It is a
proactive decision to have this long-term mindset before you speak
with any prospective clients. To clarify this sales position, the
following questions are imperative to ask:
Are you making
a sale or making a customer for life?
Sara, a pharmaceutical sales representative hoped that her repeated
visits to this doctor’s office would eventually pay off, just like
all the others. When she walked into this office today, she was met
with a great amount of resistance. The nurse asked her to leave
samples without the doctor’s signature, a practice against Sara’s
company’s (and personal) code of ethics. She stood her ground,
upheld the code and disappointedly left the doctor’s office,
thinking she just lost a potentially large account. Eventually she
was able to get past this rejection and change her focus to view
this office as a long-term customer. Suddenly, this was just one
objection that she had to find a way around. She persisted in
visiting that office and eventually was asked to leave samples while
she witnessed the doctor’s signature.
Be proactive; envision successful long-term relationships with
each and every client. How do you view your client
relationships? Do you focus on that one large sale? Do you look at
them as a lifelong customer? How you see this relationship can
directly impact how you overcome objections. How you overcome
objections directly impacts how successful you become!
Are your needs
the same as the clients’ needs?
Matt was in
the market for a patio for his hew home. He kept negotiating with
the contractor, trying to get a better price. They were both within
$500, Matt knew if the price came down $500 he would be within his
budget and would be comfortable moving forward. The contractor’s
position was, “We can’t go down another $500 but we will throw in a
fire pit.” Neither Matt nor his wife had expressed interest in a
fire pit even though it was a popular feature at the time. Matt
could not be convinced, even after the offer was repeated.
with the process, Matt found another contractor, one who listened to
his wants and needs. The deal was signed, the patio was installed.
While a patio is hardly a repeat purchase commodity for most
customers – because of the quality of the work and product, and
because the contractor was attentive to the customer’s wants and
needs – he ultimately had five more sales in the same neighborhood.
When neighbors learned of Matt’s positive experience and saw the
finished product, they arranged to have patios installed, too.
Tip #2: Don’t
begin the sales process with what you think the customer wants:
Eliminate your preconceived ideas about the client’s needs, as
difficult as it may be. Of course you must do your research and
learn about marketplace trends, however, nothing is more important
that listening…and I mean listening ‘hard’! Really dig in to
determine if there is a difference between what the customer wants
and what you think they want. This is important no matter how well
you know your business, or how long you have been in this position.
It is okay to suggest another feature or a suggestion, but if it is
of no value to the customer, hear them, and respond accordingly.
Do you really
‘like’ your customers?
You can buy
cheese and meat anywhere. However, there is a place that my wife and
I frequent in Wisconsin that is a high quality Italian delicatessen
where we always go to buy our meat and cheese. They are more
expensive and a little out of our way. So, why would we regularly
shop at this deli? They like us. At least, that is how we feel when
we walk in.
greeted, by name, in the owner’s enthusiastic Italian manner
(shouting over the counter), then they ask about me, my family, and
my business. They do this for every customer. They remember my name,
my wife’s name and they pick up where we left off, at the last
visit. Every customer (and we continually witness this) is greeted
in this same way. Nowadays, many retail outlets barely know their
customers, can’t seem to remember their names, nor do they seem to
care. How has this deli set themselves apart? They are more
expensive and are located out of the way, however, they like their
customers and show it, each and every time. Of course, this
individual attention is in addition to, not in place of, the high
quality service and products they offer.
Tip# 3: Set
Even if you can’t compete
on price, you can set yourself apart on likeability.
If asked, how many of your customers would say that you like them?
Do your customers feel that you like them? Do you know their names,
their spouse’s or kid’s names? Do you know how their business is
doing? Do you know what they like to do in their free time? Where
they like to vacation? How do you show this? List your actions that
show this emotion. List actions that could show this? Start today
to set yourself apart!
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