I’ve been reading an excellent book, Wombat Selling by Michael Hewitt-Gleason. The core idea is elegant in its simplicity:
You don’t close the sale with your customer. The customer closes the sale.
I imagine this strikes you either as confusing, or as “duh!” obvious. Let me expand further, because it can entirely change the relationship you have with your customers.
You can’t force customers to purchase from you, it’s not your decision. If you really did make the decision, they wouldn’t be your customers. Instead, each customer goes through a process in their own mind, and what you’re doing is to help them decide that purchasing your products or services is worth more than it costs.
Of course that will include the attributes of what you sell, as well as other factors both logical and not. It may include feelings, logical analysis, perceptions, even intuition. It may depend on your character as a person, perceptions of your company, and other factors which somehow are connected in the customer’s mind. A great example would be the complexities involved in the customer’s life with purchasing something from you – getting support from a boss or spouse, how the customer would have to change personal behaviors, and so on.
I hope you’re seeing that the attributes of what you’re trying to sell can actually be somewhat less important than other factors. That’s why it’s often much more about the relationships and perceptions.
If you’re in a business where you’d like to sell to your customer a second time, the post-sale experience becomes vital. We’ve all had experiences with telephone companies, airlines and grocery stores which lead us to quickly conclude either “I’ll never buy from THEM again!” or “I’d actually put them first on my list!”
This is an important observation, but not particularly striking. The other point in the book that I thought was even more compelling was:
When you’re interacting with customers, they’re more likely to buy. Unfortunately, most of your time is probably spent NOT in contact.
When the customer is conversing with you, you’re developing a relationship. If you do that well, he’s developing an internal basis of trust, learning about what you have to offer, and getting his concerns addressed. You’re just helping him do that.
So monitoring the interactions you’re having with your sales prospects ends up to be a key indicator of success. Sure, track the resulting sales. But the primary activity of what you should be DOING is maintaining the useful conversations, not just “trying to close the sale.”
Download the book on their website, it’s free. It’ll get you thinking.
- Finding the possibilities
- Leadership principle #7: Value
- Be patient building the relationship!
- Show me the value!
- When is a team really a team?