Today’s post is by Jim Cathcart, author of The Self Motivation Handbook, plus 18 other books. Cathcart.com helps organizations increase sales engagement and self-motivation. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I often ask my audiences, “What do you do for your customers? How do you help them?” Audience members say they sell customers good products or provide a valuable service, but what I want to know is, what does the customer feel is worth paying for? In other words, how do you make life better for them when they buy from you?
What Do Customers Really Pay For?
If you sell cars, customers get more enjoyable driving experiences, a safer vehicle, more reliable, larger, more efficient and environmentally friendly, cooler looking, faster, more fun, or some combination of those. But they don’t buy a “car.” They buy the effect of having your car instead of their previous one.
I drive a 2003 Ford Thunderbird because I love the look and feel of the car – and the way others react to it. It’s a cool car. In fact, my license plate even says “Cool Bird” on it. I belong to the Facebook group of T-Bird owners and I take pride in keeping my 139,000-mile car looking and running good. Notice I didn’t mention price or mileage or safety ratings. I’m paying for an experience! Others have different buying reasons.
When you and I are clear on the Why behind a customer’s Yes, then we can truly appeal to their dominant buying motives. In that way, we avoid the back-and-forth over price or other details. So, start every sales contact with questions, not descriptions. Find out why they’d be interested in even considering a new purchase. Discover their pain points and unmet wishes re: your offer. Then sell to that with testimonials, documentation, demonstrations, and examples.
Far too much emphasis is placed on sales presentations. We should focus more strongly on sales dialogue, questions, and probes that get the customer talking about what they want or don’t want. Get them to tell you stories and give examples.
Collaborating with Buyers Is Valuable for Sellers
When you collaborate with buyers, they will teach you how to sell to them. Just be sure to notice how they like to get their information and how they prefer to connect with people. If they like details and documentation, then don’t skip that step – without it, they won’t trust you. However, if they prefer to have their information summarized and described with examples, then don’t bore them with documents. People trust what they prefer.
Some people want to get to know you as a person, as their provider. Others couldn’t care less about you personally; they just want you to help them buy. Learn to read the subtle messages they send and adapt to each individual. Be the kind of seller they hope you will be and you’ll get more yeses.
I once asked an executive team, “Why should you go back to work here tomorrow?” That is, other than earning a living, what is the purpose of this job or business to you? They were momentarily stunned by the question. Then they started talking about the good they did for their customers. We had a robust discussion about how their products and services gave people more peace of mind, security, and enjoyment. They told stories and shared real examples of how customers had been affected by the value received.
At the end of that discussion, everyone in the room felt more passionate about their company and their career choice. They were focused on the one thing that justifies a business: the value it provides to others. What do you do for your buyers and why it that worth paying for…to them?