Episode 50 – The sale is just the beginning
My son is entering business college and he is a natural born salesman. He’s charismatic, charming, witty, sincere, smart, funny, and yes, I’m a little bit biased. He’s great.
But something that stood out to me is that as he has been in college and navigating life as a young adult, he told me how much of the focus is on getting the sale. It’s all about improving the sales numbers. He asked me how the work that I do factors in to what he’s learning.
So, as the heavens parted and the angels started singing as I reflected that my adult son asked for my professional advice. I had a moment… and then I kicked into consultant mode.
Before the sale… it’s important that any business and salesperson understands the customer’s priorities during each stage of their lifecycle with you.
Before and during the sale – – it’s all about building trust, making sure the sales rep understands what the customer is actually trying to do with your product or service, and being sure that the customer isn’t feeling “sold” An article in CustomerCentric.com did a good job of explaining that good sales work doesn’t bring attention to itself. It gets the prospective customer so hooked by the content and the rapport that they don’t spend any time thinking about the motivation behind it.
Sales shouldn’t take the focus off of the customers’ buying experience – anyone heard of retail therapy? I’ve heard…. that part of the enjoyment is the buying process… finding the right thing, dreaming or thinking of what you could do with that thing to improve your life, fill any need personally or professionally… etc. It’s got to be focused on the customer. As soon as the customer feels something is off and the focus has become closing the deal no matter what, ambiguity about results but still pushing for that sale, or having the sales rep start on anything other than the customer, things go awry.
The buying process also shouldn’t feel pressured. The customer’s highest need is certainty. As customers, we like to take our time when making buying decisions. Typically, the higher the price point, the more time we like to take to be sure we feel good about our options, our pros and cons list, review the supplier, ticking off all of our requirements, in B2B we need to anticipate the priorities or questions of other departments impacted by this decision, etc. Once the customer feels pressured, they lose trust in the motivation of the sales rep and could very likely leave. Salesforce.com even has an article quoting Sales expert Bob Burg who believes “a low-pressure – even no-pressure – [sales] approach will ultimately result in far more sales (not to mention greater career satisfaction for its practitioners).” Former Harvard Business Review editor Edward C. Bursk agrees. He describes low-pressure selling as “not driving the prospect into a buying decision, but letting [them] reach the decision [themself]”.
But here’s the biggest difference between CX leaders and CX laggards… the leaders understand that the relationship built before the sale is crucial to customer retention AFTER the sale.
That got us started on the next phase of the experience… after the purchase… reach out, connect, engage, find out how things are going. When that is done, it increases the feeling of trust and confidence the customer has in that company. They feel like someone is really looking out for them. Unlike the car dealership yet exactly what our vet does. I often joke with the staff at the vet that I wish my entire family could get our medical care there because they take such good care of us.
It’s about letting customers know of any expected issues that have come up before with other customers using the same product or service and being proactive.
It’s about looking for other ways customers can benefit from the products they’ve already purchased from you without trying to upsell them.
It’s about looking out for your customer in any way that is relevant to their business and the conversations and topics you’ve discussed along the way.
When customers feel dropped once they’ve made the payment or signed the contract, that is everything that CX stands against. CX is understanding that while the sale is vitally important to the company to gain the revenue, it’s everything after the sale that is vitally important to the customer to earn their loyalty and referrals.
Those of you listening know you need to start asking the questions around, do we know how much each of our customers is worth to us? Do we know what frustrates them when working with us? Where are the inconsistencies or the points where customers have come to expect we will not meet their expectations but are willing to put up with us because we do well in other areas?