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 customers have endured from salespeople over the years, it’s no wonder that customers do not initially like or trust salespeople when they initially 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 rebrand professional selling … 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 other salespeople and experiences that customers do not 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 a very simple 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 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 things a salesperson must do to become more Customer Centric in their selling approach.
Customer Centric Selling Skills:
1. Eliminate stereotypical selling behavior from their selling approach.
We have worked diligently over the years to help salespeople replace old “control and persuade” selling techniques with more contemporary strategies and behaviors that help customers walk a decision path of self discovery. Only by eliminating all of the behaviors that customers perceive as offensive and replacing it with proper consultative selling behavior can we encourage customers to view us as different and be more motivated to partner with us in their decision.
2. Maintain a constant focus on helping customers improve their condition.
The short cut to the sale has always been the customer. Only by focusing on the customer, their current condition and plans, desires, and goals for the future, can we successfully partner and align with their decision process.
According to research, customers are tired of salespeople scheduling appointments and then spewing presentations about features and possible benefits. Customers are aligning themselves with those salespeople who ask questions, understand the customer’s goals, and then work with the customer to design the right solution and help them achieve measurable goals.
3. 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. As an example, in our sales training classes, we always reinforce the need for consistent prospecting. We cannot leave ourselves in a position where we need the sale more than we desire to help the customer. Maintaining a full pipeline which is loaded with enough possible business to help us meet or exceed our selling goals is the way we ensure the opportunity for a Customer Centric attitude at all times.
An effective way for sales professionals to differentiate themselves and shatter the negative salesperson stereotype is to focus on Customer Centric selling. By replacing pushy selling strategies, keeping a focus on helping the customer, and keeping a full sales pipeline, you, too, can stand out and overcome your customers’ negative perceptions, and win more profitable business.