Sales Strategy: Selling Differentiation Through Customer Centric Selling27 Feb, 2015 By: Kim Ward, Print Management Solutions Group
More times than not these days, when a salesperson meets a customer for the first time; the customer appears to have preconceived ideas about the salesperson long before they ever get to really know them. And… they are not normally good perceptions. Have you ever wondered why this sometimes occurs when you meet new customers?
Fortunately; many customers’ negative perceptions of “salespeople” have nothing to do with you, your intentions toward them or your personal selling style. The real reason this happens so frequently is because as human beings our perceptions are forged in our previous experiences. And, many of the previous experiences that customers have endured with other salespeople have not been good ones.
As we have suggested in sales training and sales management training classes for almost 20 years, if we consider the previous attitudes and behaviors that customer’s have endured from salespeople over the years it’s no wonder that customers don’t initially like or trust salespeople when they meet them. I’m sure we’ve all had one or more experiences with the “stereotypical” salesperson and as such we can certainly relate to this common customer perception.
The time has come to rise above the selling traditions and attitudes that our customers no longer care for. We must do what we have always known to be right, and in doing so we reposition professional selling where it belongs… as some of the most honorable and valuable work a person can do!
If you want to change the customer’s perception… then change the experience! By behaving differently than customers might expect we differentiate ourselves from the other salespeople and experiences that customers don’t care for.
The term “Customer Centric” has become very popular in business education and sales training circles over the last few years. We at Learning Outsource Group agree that salespeople and their companies should become more “customer” focused in their approach to selling and servicing their clients. And yet, it is likely that many professional salespeople still do not understand what Customer Centric really means or how it should be exhibited as selling behavior.
Let’s start with an explanation of the term Customer Centric. According to the businessdictionary.com definition:
Customer Centric means; creating a positive consumer experience at the point of sale and post sale.
We believe that by becoming truly Customer Centric in their selling approach, salespeople can both competitively differentiate themselves and their company but also stand a much better chance of getting past the selling walls and barriers that customers have created to repel the stereotypical salesperson behavior they no longer care for.
In our sales education classes we suggest that there are three (3) things that a salesperson must do to become more Customer Centric in their selling approach.
Customer Centric Selling Commitments:
- Eliminate stereotypical selling behavior from their selling approach.
We have worked diligently over the years to help salespeople replace old “control and persuade” selling strategies with strategies and behaviors that help customers to walk a decision path of self discovery. Only by eliminating all of the behaviors that customer’s perceive so offensive and replacing it with proper consultative selling behavior can we encourage customers to view us as different and more readily partner with us in their decision.
- Maintain a constant focus on helping the customer improve their condition.
The short cut to the sale has always been the customer. Only by focusing on the customer, their current condition and their plans, desires and goals for the future can we successfully partner and align with customers in their decision process.
According to research; customers are tired of salespeople scheduling appointments and then just spewing presentations of features and possible benefits. Customers are aligning themselves with salespeople who ask questions, understand the customer’s condition improvement goals and help to design the right solution to help customers achieve them.
- Maintain a full and consistent sales funnel and pipeline.
Selling professionals need to do what is necessary to keep them in the most Customer Centric position for selling. As an example, in our sales training classes, we always reinforce the need to prospect every day. We can’t leave ourselves in a position to need the sale more than we desire to help the customer. Always having a full pipeline which is loaded with enough possible business to help us meet or exceed our selling goals is the way we insure the opportunity for a Customer Centric attitude when selling.
Author Kim D. Ward is the Director of Training for Learning Outsource Group based in Ormond Beach, Florida. He has been involved in training and consulting within the office imaging industry since 1993. He is a nationally recognized speaker, facilitator, consultant, and coach and has personally worked with over 30,000 industry professionals, teaching such programs as Sales Management Leadership, Management Development, Advanced Sales Training, Selling Managed Print Services, and many others. Kim has worked extensively with a large number of industry OEM’s, IKON, Global Imaging Systems, Xerox, and over 800 independent office imaging dealers during the past 20 years. www.learningoutsourcegroup.com