Today’s post is by Jill Lublin, an international speaker on the topics of radical influence, publicity, networking, kindness, and referrals. She is the author of four bestselling books, including Get Noticed...Get Referrals and co-author of Guerrilla Publicity and Networking Magic. Her latest book is The Profit of Kindness. Visit publicitycrashcourse.com/freegift and jilllublin.com.
Once upon a time, there were salespeople who started the purchasing process and heavily influenced the decision-making of consumers. But times have changed. Today, according to a research by HubSpot, 62 percent of consumers will use a search engine for information regarding a product or service while only 29 percent will connect with sales representatives.
Though no longer the first step of the process, salespeople still play an important part – now, in the consideration stage. The same study states that 43 percent of customers will reach out to sales representatives when they are ready to avail themselves of the product or service.
Such role change creates the necessity to amend your selling approach as well. From the stereotypical profit mindset – that is sometimes bordering on deceptive – you must shift toward a client-centric strategy that earns customers’ trust and loyalty. Here are some ways you can turn your selling practice from cutthroat to kind.
Offer Service First before Selling
With a goal in mind, people will act heading to such an end. When you think of your quota, your motivations, messages, and actions will be geared toward making your customers buy from you. This is what leads people to think salespeople are pushy and annoying. But, when you think of what you can offer your clients, that’s when you ask the right questions and exhibit concern.
Before selling, then, place yourself in your clients’ shoes. They may already have something in mind – but inquire further to understand their actual needs. Then think how your product or service could provide for such needs, in a manner that is more beneficial to your customers than when they obtain it from others – or don’t make a purchase at all.
Offer Services beyond Sales
Sometimes, as your conversation goes, you realize that what the client truly needs is something you cannot deliver. A typical salesperson would still recommend his/her own product or service. This is often what results in a perception of deception. A kind salesperson, however, will direct the client to the right path. If you genuinely care for your customers, you would not be afraid of suggesting even the products or services of your competitor. This might seem counter-intuitive – borderline crazy – but this is how you earn the trust of clients and even prospects. Neil Alcala and his company DirectPay have been doing this, assisting even non-customers, for the past 20 years, and that goodwill has led to processing of $3.25 billion and counting for their clients.
Contribute beyond Your Products and Services
One of the findings of The 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer is that 80 percent of global consumers agree that business must play a role in addressing societal issues. Research conducted by Cone Communications, on the other hand, found that 90 percent of consumers would switch to a brand that is connected to social and environmental causes.
With this increase in consumer awareness – and consumer expectations of social responsibility – people in the sales industry must act accordingly. As you ensure customer loyalty, attract new customers by being involved in activities that support charities and nonprofit organizations. Devise a strategy where proceeds from your products or services would directly contribute to your community. From small random acts of kindness within your neighborhood to scholarships for underprivileged students to programs for the early detection of cancer – these will not go unnoticed and will surely create free advertising for your products or services.
You do not have to be aggressive or irritating to gain customers. Yet, kindness in selling should go hand-in-hand with kindness in the form of creating quality and sustainable products and services. Kindness indeed goes a long way. As Gallup has proven in one of its studies, customers who are fully engaged – that is, emotionally connected customers – “represent a 23 percent premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth over the average customer.”