What if I told you to quit selling things? Forget the power points, the Skype calls, the email marketing?
You'd think I'd lost my mind ... again.
But I'm serious. Imagine creating a business concentrated on lead conversions (that's marketing-speak for selling) that were based on supporting customers instead of selling them. In a word, I'm asking you to imagine being friends with your clients. A sales system that mimics a healthy human relationship.
In some ways, this idea hearkens back to a much simpler time in the world, where there was one of each company in small towns all over.
One butcher, one baker, one funeral home. All of the businesses thrived or failed based on the relationship they brokered with the community.
It's not so hard to imagine that today, except the community has changed and now, potential customers have the world at their fingertips. You might buy bacon online (imagine!) from a private farm in Spokane, tires from a company in Richmond, and have all your accounting handled by a firm in the Midwest. Why do that, though?
Simple. Companies that embrace a relationship with a client create more clients. Here's five key things - in order - you can do in your own business that reimagine the sales process into something that has meaning far beyond simply money changing hands.
· Engage with your prospective customer. Is this simply a sale of an item? That's not a problem - if I have a sweet tooth, I may buy a candy bar nearly anywhere and not think about it ever again. What you have to remember, as the entrepreneur, is that the customer sets the tone of the relationship. Do they need more meaning? If you own the candy store I just referenced, that may be so, but if you sell wedding cakes, then there is a huge difference.
· Know how your potential customer views the transaction and make your process a reflection of that. Are you going to meet their emotional needs based on what they suggest to you in the transaction? Years ago, when Saturn cars were first introduced, they touted the "no pressure" sales methodology they used. For a lot of buyers, this was great, but for some, the fact there was not going to be the verbal tete a tete with a crafty car salesman was a turn off. Saturn knew that their primary client was younger and didn't like pushy sales dogma, so it was successful for them. Other companies tried it and it was not as successful.
· Determine your customer's needs. The more you know about a given customer and exactly what they want and need from the transaction, the better you'll be. What do they want? Why do they want it? What support do you need to provide them to reassure them of the purchase? Your sales team needs to be able to understand how to get to this basic starting point and then, effectively lead your potential client to the right decision - and that isn't always a closed sale.
· Provide a solution. This goes right back to the previous point - provide a solution, not just a product that almost works. In many service businesses, this opens the door to customized solutions, but if you are product-based, you need to ensure the product does, in fact, meet the needs that the customer has outlined. Here is a true differentiator - your sales team needs to think of themselves as more teachers than sales people.
· NOW, make the offer. At this point, you have identified the needs and either decided you have the solution or you don't. There's nothing wrong with saying, "We don't have an easy solution that meets that need right now," if that's actually true. On the other hand, if you have done your homework, then you (or more importantly, your team) might be able to say, "You know, there's not an easy solution to that right now, but I believe there is a solution, can you give me an hour (or 24, or two days, you get the idea) to see how we can provide what you've told me you need?"
The result of - let's call it what it is - this honesty, might be surprising, even if your solution costs more than the client initially planned on.
It's about the relationship!
People are hungry to build them and hungry for ones that are balanced. They don't want to be seen as the only one giving 100% in a friendship or a marriage, why would anyone believe that a transaction is any different?
Tweak your process and you'll see amazing results.