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Posts Tagged ‘Customer Focus’

The Sixth Sales Myth and Truth

The sixth sales Myth is that successful sales people focus upon the product or service being offered!  This idea has been amplified by operations oriented management and product managers who are in love with “their baby”.  I have never seen a product or service sell itself. Someone had to differentiate the product or service from the competition’s and value during the process. Sales people need to demonstrate the superiority of their product or service over the many options open to the customer.

An unusual situation occurs when an founder of a company retires and leaves his or her company in the hands of an operations oriented manager. These managers have a common tendency of taking the old established accounts – that were actually the personal accounts developed by the founder – and turning them into “house accounts.” This action is strictly a method of eliminating a commission to a sales person on these “established” accounts. And, I have been told by these managers – that the “house” accounts will do business with us “just because of who we are!”

The truth about this “house” account stupidity is that these old and profitable accounts will leave due to a severe lack of action. Competitor’s are smart and become more aggressive in going after these “house” accounts. They offer innovative new products and in some cases partnerships or joint ventures to win the business. “House Accounts” must be aggressively marketed by the company and your best sales people should be assigned to these legacy accounts.

To summarize the sixth Truth, being successful (growing and profitable), your sales process must be focused upon the customer.  For customers to buy, they must feel that you are offering the best value, not the best prices. They must feel you understand their issues (not learning at their expense) and offer innovative new ideas and opportunities. You show that you will be involved for the long-term, not here today and gone tomorrow. I’m seeing too many companies abandon customers during the tough economic times. They justify these decisions as making economic sense and necessary due to the economy.

Most importantly, they trust you, they feel that you have their best interest at heart and that you will do what you say you will do! Remember, you are in business to sell and grow – both your company and your customers’ company. You always have a choice – make the right choice and grow.

The Fifth Sales Myth and Truth

The next Myth is that sales people must be “showing and telling” customers about their product or service.  Canned scripted presentations abound.  This activity usually leads to a price driven buying decision!  Some consider presentation ability to be the key sales success factor.  They think that sales people should present their product whenever customer shows even a glimmer of interest.

This show and tell mentality comes internal focused people. Its all about the product or service and therefore has nothing to do with the customer’s wants or needs. This method leads directly to the previous myth that you needed to be excellent at handling objections. Well, the only reason for handling objections is the lack of customer engagement and involvement. When the customer has no interest in a product or service, the old school sales person would attempt to trick or pressure a “yes” just to make one sale. The downside to this approach was no repeat business and a high return rate or order cancellation.

Today’s Truth is that sales people must focus first and foremost on the customer.  They have to master questioning and listening skills to be successful.  Customers demand that you totally understand their unique situation (even if its not really unique – they believe it is unique.).  Customers want salespeople to know the customer’s industry and the company’s specific issues.  This requires sales people to utilize value added selling of customer specific solutions.  At the same time this yields the benefit of higher profitability than can be achieved using the bidding method or generic open bid packages.

Customers want to deal with people who care about the customer’s success. The customer needs to feel that the sales person will support the customer – even in difficult times like today’s economic environment. Take the time to build relationships within an organization. Go wide and deep to insure that everyone is supporting your product or service. These people will override the blockers within the organization that want your competitors to win. Take the external point of view – know your customer’s situation, support their growth and needs and help them win using ROI and creative results.