19 Mar Don’t sell. Help the customer buy
For most part of my 16 year long career with corporates, I have been into sales. And yet I never ‘sold’.
My responsibility used to be getting customers to buy and use applications that would automate or re-engineer their processes, thereby bringing about a quantum shift in efficiency and effectiveness of their businesses. I would carry targets which were required to be met. However, I had the freedom to decide for myself how I would go about meeting my targets. This is where I chose to not sell and yet ensured I did justice to not only my roles and responsibility but the expectations my employers had of me.
Looking back I realize, and this may have something to do with my wiring. I never adopted any of the classical selling techniques. There wasn’t ever an application / product pushed. Negotiation was always a process leading to enhancing win-win. And that too, more often than not, after the deal has been closed in principle. Most importantly, instead of leaving the customer suspecting whether or not she got a great deal, I would end up creating enthusiastic ambassadors of my customers, by the time the deal was closed.
I never sold. Instead, I enabled my customers to buy.
The way it worked for me and I guess will work for most, in an economy of abundance where the customer knows she has ample choice, is what may be called as Conscious or Evangelistic Selling.
There essentially are the five steps to this process:
If you notice, this rather engaged process calls for some radical shift in how sales is viewed by the seller.
- You no more have products and solutions to sell. You have offerings with which you are here to serve your customer and their stated and unstated needs.
- You aren’t any more selling your company’s wares. You have bought into what they have to offer, yourself, with so much of pride that getting others to adopt and use it is but a natural corollary.
- Product-out sales pitch is out and transformational customer-in messaging is in. No one bothers what you have to offer, if you are not bothered about what pains your customers have and why and how possibly your offerings could not only fix but help them resolve their pain.
- Creating an experience for your customer, at an emotional level is more educative than all the logical selling propositions put together.
- More often than not a new product or a solution brings about some disruption in the customers’ life. It could be as mundane as a new smart phone calling upon the customer to retrain herself in getting the maximum out of this new device. Or a new countryside energy-efficient villa which promises to enhance quality of living, calling upon the customer to redefine living for herself. Being sensitive to this disruptive effect of adopting a new solution and hand-holding the customer till she has adopted the solution completely and is at ease in using it the way she wants, is the key.
- One major shift of mindset is that from transaction to transformation. Gone are the days of leaving the customer in lurch after having collected the check. You not only lose the customer for a lifetime but 10 X more prospects due to her adverse word-of-mouth. Being around and staying in touch to ensure that the customer uses your offerings with pride is the beginning of a transformational process which leads to her becoming a voluntary ambassador of your offerings.
As the economy necessitates future proofing of businesses, organizations are re-inventing themselves to create lasting value for their customers. Businesses with sustained customer delight will differentiate themselves essentially by the way they sell – selling being the first touch point for the customer.
In order to create opportunity for sales, pre-sales, business development professionals and business analysts to graduate to Conscious Selling, I am offering a two-day learning program in Bangalore, India wherein the participants will get an opportunity to master the art through practical experiences, live case studies and role plays. Those interested to participate, may please firstname.lastname@example.org a week with their expression of intent to participate to enable us organize the logistics. And to get a peek into the highlights of my own conscious selling career, you may please download a document from here.