“Sell To Me Like This…” If only the customer had a voice9 September 2015 Categories: Customer empathy Sales
I’d been putting this moment off for as long as I could, but the escalating repair costs of my old car became too much for me to bear, and I finally succumbed. So I reluctantly visited a local car dealership and, as I walked into the showroom, I wondered whether I would enjoy this buying experience.
Yes, the cars were all shiny, dripping with alluring gadgets, and smelling unmistakably good…..
However, the increasingly painful sales process began in earnest – here are some snippets of my experience:
- Contrived questions about my lifestyle – I’m not sure what relevance the ages of my kids has to me wanting to buy a car ?
- The grinning salesman laughing at his own jokes – annoying !
- Fishing for mutual ground – I know we’re both in the male 40-something age group but I’m not really into golf or football – awkward !
- The apologetic questions: “Sorry to be so blunt sir, but if the price and deal was right, would you buy the car today ?”
When my associate got called away for 5 minutes his manager filled in with more of the same. Question number 4 ‘the qualifier’ was broached 3 times in the space of 30mins !
So I quickly bought a car and got out of there.
I don’t think that this sales technique was supposed to be an intentional one – i.e. if we act like stereotypical car salespeople this guy will buy a car in record time to avoid spending another minute with us.
So why can selling seem so cringeworthy and clunky ?
This got me wondering…..if the customer had a voice, how would they want to be sold to, so that they willingly returned for repeat purchases ?
MY CUSTOMER EQUATION:
Value x (My Buying Experience + My Consuming Experience) = Likelihood of Repeat Purchase
CUSTOMER NEED #1: SHOW ME THE VALUE
Most customers simply want a quality product at a keen price. During his tenure as Asda CEO, Alan Leighton talked about his Yorkshire definition of “Value”. Whilst visiting a local store, Leighton was discussing the importance of ‘the value message’ with the store management team. At that moment a passing customer, a flat-capped Yorkshireman, over-heard their conversation and announced to Leighton in a broad accent: “Value ? I’ll tell thee abowt Value ! It’s abowt havin’ nowt in yer pocket and bein glad erv it”. Us customers don’t mind parting with our cash when we realise how good the purchase will make us feel. Showing the customer all of the value in your product is essential if the war on price is to be averted.
CUSTOMER NEED #2: GIVE ME AN AMAZING BUYING EXPERIENCE
This simply boils down to three key customer questions:
- DID I CONNECT WITH THEIR PEOPLE ?
This means every staff member I interact with – not just the sales team. This could also relate to how well customers react with your website. In all but simple transactional sales, customers want to feel rapport and trust. This requires an authentic, natural and consistent approach. Subtle questioning, emotional awareness, sharing values, empathy, reflective listening, non-verbal mirroring – all of these skills play a part establishing this natural rapport.
2. DID I CONNECT WITH THEIR PRODUCT ?
Customers need to be persuaded and/or reminded how great they will feel when they use this product (or the next model up). Sampling the product helps me connect with it and also taps into the power of reciprocation (I should repay their generosity by making a purchase). Customers will also subconsciously check that the product lives up to the promises made in the marketing. WARNING: Products which are below the customer’s expected standards will be quickly and virally exposed.
3. WAS I DELIGHTED WITH SOMETHING SPECIAL ?
Simply doing the basics well is easy to say and hard to achieve – especially in large organisations. Nevertheless, it is always a great place to start. However, going the extra mile always has a more memorable impact for customers, and sets great businesses apart from average ones. ‘Tiny Noticeable Things’ are what counts here – there’s too many to list individually, but here are some examples: becoming a customer’s trusted advisor, a surprise gift, personalised customer service, staff who respond to my needs ahead of their personal or corporate agenda, staff who I can have fun with.
CUSTOMER NEED#3: GIVE ME A REWARDING CONSUMER EXPERIENCE
- WHEN I USE THE PRODUCT, DOES IT MATCH HOW I THOUGHT (or WAS PERSUADED) IT WOULD FEEL?
If the product doesn’t deliver the same experience as promised by the Marketing or Buying stages, then I am dissatisfied and unlikely to return. If the product over-delivers then all is well (although the sales and marketing teams may need some training).
2. DO THEY STAY IN TOUCH APPROPRIATELY ?
This is where careful marketing can pay dividends – the chance to keep reminding customers that your organisation cares about how well they’re enjoying your product. This is where add-on sales, service contracts, warranties, after-care and repeat purchases are won or lost. Research has shown that it can cost up to 30 times more to win back a customer than it does to keep one, so getting this bit right is essential for profitability (source: Mike Johnston, Chartered Institute of Marketing, 2002).
Optimus Team Learning are proud to join up with sales specialists Lammore Consulting, to help your team break into each of these fundamental building blocks of natural sales excellence, and turn them into strengths for your organisation. Contact www.lammore.com to find out how.