SALES

6 Things Every Customer Wants

Contrary to popular belief, customers are less interested in price than in these six things.
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All customers want the highest quality at the lowest price, right? Well, sort of. That stuff is important but, surprisingly, the quality vs. price formula is not usually on the top of the customer's list of concerns, especially when it comes to selling B2B.

According to numerous surveys, B2B customers want the following six things from the people who sell to them:

1. Preparation

Customers want you to do your homework before talking with them. They resent it when you ask questions that can easily be answered by a few minutes on the Web.

  • Wrong: "And your VP of manufacturing is who?"
  • Right: "How are purchasing decisions made between the manufacturing and engineering group?"

2. Simplicity

Customers, like everyone else, must cope with the complexities of business. They want you to make what you're selling simple but without being simplistic.

  • Wrong: "Salesforce.com, the enterprise cloud computing company, today announced new next generation social analytics for the Marketing Cloud. With the expanded Marketing Cloud ecosystem, which now includes 20 industry leading social analytics vendors, companies are able to make better business decisions based on the massive amounts of social media data created every day, all from a single dashboard." (BTW, this is a real example, selected pretty much at random.)
  • Right: "We make it easier to find sales prospects on the web by gathering the results from multiple social media searches into a single convenient place."

3. Creativity

Customers already have ideas on how to solve their problems and create their opportunities. They want you to surface new ideas that won't turn up during in-house discussions.

  • Wrong: "We can address your list of requirements."
  • Right: "Have you considered an alliance that might let you outsource that function?"

4. Loyalty

Customers are risking their companies and careers by doing business with you. They therefore want you to represent THEIR interests and not just those of your company.

  • Wrong: "Is there any reason why you wouldn't buy from us?" (Move to the close.)
  • Right: "If you're not 100% certain this is a good idea, then we should reassess the situation together."

5. Accessibility

Customers want to know they're a priority and that you'll get back to them immediately if they have a problem. If you don't, they conclude they're not important to you.

  • Wrong: (recording) "I'm out of the office for a few days. Leave a message and I'll get back to you when I return."
  • Right: (recording) "If this is important, please text me at [number]. Otherwise leave a message."

6. Accountability

Customers don't want you to pass the buck to anybody else in your company. If they're going to work with you, they want your skin in the game.

  • Wrong: "You'll have to take that up with the sale support team."
  • Right: "I will call the sales support team right now and have them give your problem immediate attention."

The list above is based upon scientific research conducted by The Chally Group Worldwide. (I am currently writing a book with their chairman, Howard Stevens.) The examples, however, are my own interpretation.

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IMAGE: Flickr/Nomadic Lass
Last updated: Jan 18, 2013

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is "Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts that You Need to Know."

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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