There's no one right way to sell to a client. I sold over $1 billion in my career, and each one is a little different. My main differentiation was education: I made a point to make sure my clients understood exactly what their mortgage meant and how to squeeze every last bit of value out of it. I've written about other successful marketers who focus on education, trust, fun, and other methods to engage clients. What I've learned over and over again is that creativity and shifts in attitude can make a huge difference.
Sometimes even a subtle shift in attitude can change the whole dynamic between salesperson and customer. Ramon Riancho is a Puerto Rican entrepreneur who has expanded his business throughout the Latin world by becoming a resource for his clients, rather than just another seller of wares. Riancho is the President and CEO of the Indusa Americas Group, which provides fluid management solutions to industrial clients. If something needs to be moved through a pipe, Riancho and his team can make it happen. The company is 60 years old, and Riancho is the fourth generation of his family to run the business. After attending college and earning an MBA in the mainland US, Riancho attended law school in Puerto Rico and for several years practiced corporate law for the largest Hispanic law firm in the world. He was also as internal counsel for Merck, working in regional and public affairs. Eventually, he entered the family business. Under his leadership, Indusa has expanded from the Caribbean to all over Central and South America, and now has offices in 16 countries.
In an episode of my podcast 10 Minute Tips from the Top, Riancho shares how he becomes an advocate and resource for his clients, rather than just another salesman:
1. Always keep your eyes open for opportunity in unexpected places.
Riancho believes problems always bring along opportunities. Where others might find working in public affairs at a pharmaceutical company to be a challenge, he found the experience at Merck to be "really more of a privilege than anything else." Working at Merck also had unexpected benefits for the family business. He says, "Because of my opportunities and traveling with Merck, always in the back of my mind every time I traveled, I would see there was a particular need in a market where I thought [Indusa] would be a good fit." Riancho has the same positive attitude towards his homeland. He believes that problems can beget benefits, and asserts that despite the challenges it has faced, "Puerto Rico is a good place to do business right now. There are still lots of good companies and lots of innovation happening."
2. Identify your client's real problem.
Indusa functions differently from the very beginning, before it has even identified a customer. "We view our role differently than a traditional supplier would," he offers. Riancho explains, "We came into the market, and rather than saying, 'We're just going to sell pipes and industrial materials,' we flipped the mentality." He continues, "Rather than pushing a product, our people in our company...identify a need in the market. Based on that need, we have a portfolio of manufacturers. It's basically a portfolio of solutions. And then we cater to the need by identifying a particular solution that can meet that need." This dedication to finding the right solution has generated loyal clientele all around Latin America.
3. Keep learning along with your clients.
Industries change all the time, and companies need to adapt in order to keep up. As a supplier, Indusa and Riancho need to keep up with the developments in all kinds of different businesses. Whatever the product, it's not easy to be up on all the subtleties. "When we were expanding into Latin America, I had to learn the hard way," Riancho shares. He continues, "There are differences in the Spanish language and technology. And there are cultural differences in each country." But demonstrating a willingness to meet any need has a powerful impact on clients. Riancho says, "[Customers] want comfort, comfort in the sense that they can entrust their needs to us, a company that has higher standards." Riancho aims to be a catalyst for his clients.
4. Radiate flexibility.
Customers love feeling like they're getting a customized solution. And in a way, Indusa's customers are. "We go out to the market and see what clients need. And based on that need, we're going to be the solutions provider. You become more of a resource to your client," Riancho says. While Indusa may sell tubes and valves, their clients produce all kinds of things, from medicine to metals and everything in between. "When we look at our business, we don't just see the pipes we sell. We actually help a company build a drug, or mine for gold, and that's a purpose we take very seriously." Ultimately, Riancho says, "It's a quintessential win-win situation!"