Sales professionals in virtually every industry are under tremendous pressure to close sales. It is not uncommon for them to hear comments similar to “Make more calls,” or “Get the sale at any cost,” or “Tell them what they want to hear,” from their sales managers, supervisors or bosses. But this approach does not create trust with customers and does not encourage repeat business or a lasting relationship.
A more effective approach is to develop partnering relationships
with your clients. This means working with them to help them achieve
their goals and objectives. Simple in theory, this strategy requires
a completely different approach. Here’s what I mean.
In the majority of sales presentations, the salesperson looks for
ways to position his or her product and service so that the prospect
will buy it. However, a partnering approach means putting your goals
and objective aside. It means focusing 100 percent of your attention
on your customer. It requires a selfless mind-set because there
are situations when the best solution is not yours. In fact, it
may mean telling your customer to contact a competitor if you know
that a competitor is in a better position to provide what the customer
is looking for.
I experienced this just a few days before writing this article.
A subscriber to my online e-zine contacted me about delivering a
particular service. Although I may have been able to help her, I
knew someone who could better meet her requirements. It was mentally
difficult, but I made the decision to refer her to my competition.
IT MAKES SENSE
Partnering also means that you provide exceptional follow-up to
ensure that your customer is completely satisfied with his or her
purchase. This does not mean you make just the obligatory follow-up
call. It means you explore your customers’ actual use of your
products and help them to get the most out of their purchases.
Here’s another example from my business. The product I sell
is sales strategies and training. A client of mine was experiencing
less than favorable results after implementing a new program into
his business. We scheduled a follow-up meeting with the management
team, because as the vendor, I knew that the answers lay in the
execution of the program. During the meeting we explored several
ways to improve their results and one of the solutions required
me to provide additional follow-up. Although I could have charged
this client for my time, I knew that it made good business sense
to absorb the cost of this follow-up because my primary objective
was to help my client achieve the best results possible. Subsequent
meetings indicated that this investment was worth it as my client
began discussing how we could take this initiative to the next level.
The challenge with this concept is that most salespeople want some
form of instant gratification. But this approach does not offer
a direct or immediate payoff for the salesperson. However, from
a business perspective, it makes good sense.
It is also important to note that you don’t necessarily have
to give away this additional service. A few sales trainers I know
(including myself) incorporate telephone coaching into their proposals.
They charge for this service, but they position it as a way for
the company to improve their results. They demonstrate how this
additional investment will drive more dollars to their clients’
Ultimately, your goal as a salesperson should be helping your customers
and clients improve their lives. Here are a few points to consider.
1. Focus on their goals and objective instead of your personal
agenda (closing the sale). If necessary, recommend another supplier
or vendor who offers the exact product/service your client needs.
2. Follow-up. Contact your customers and talk to them after
they have made their purchases. Ask them if they are getting the
desired results. If they aren’t, look for ways to help them
maximize their results. Offer additional support. Give them extra
resources. Help them get the best results possible.
3. Incorporate a systemized process into your sales pitch
or proposals. People will pay for extras, provided they see the
added value that is brought into their homes or lives.
4. Send information to your customers on a regular basis
without being asked. I like to send articles that are relevant to
my clients on a regular basis. This demonstrates that I am looking
out for their interests, rather than my own. I prefer to send articles
written by other people, not just the ones I write.
HELPING OTHERS HELPS YOU
Zig Ziglar once stated, “You can get anything you want in life
if you just help enough other people get what they want.” When
you help your customers achieve their goals and objectives you become
more than a salesperson, supplier or vendor. You become a partner—someone
the customer would prefer to do business with. And this will prevent
your competition from overtaking you in the marketplace.
Create a checklist of the additional services you can offer to your
clients to help them achieve their desires. Helping your customers
reach their objectives will help you increase your profits.
A few words of caution: this is a process, not a quick fix. This
strategy does take time to generate a return. However, it is well
worth the investment.
Kelley Robertson, president of the Robertson Training Group, is
a professional speaker and trainer on sales, negotiating, and employee
motivation. He is also the author of “Stop, Ask & Listen
– Proven Sales Techniques to Turn Browsers into Buyers.”
For information on his programs, visit www.robertsontraininggroup.com.
Receive a free copy of “100 Ways to Increase Your Sales”
by subscribing to his 59-Second Tip, a free weekly e-zine. Kelley
can be contacted at (905) 633-7750.