Is the Customer Always Right? Emphatically No! Is the Customer King? Emphatically Yes!
Herein lies the dilemma. Customers are not always right and sellers frequently know more about what is right for their customers than do their customers. And, no one likes to be told that they are wrong, particularly if you are the person who is paying! The customer may not always be right but they surely are the monarch in that they are the keeper of their purse and, if they choose not to open it for you, so be it, right or wrong, you are not going to be chosen.
It depends what is being bought and sold, of course. In the case of a transactional/commoditised sale where “after-sales” is not critical or is itself transactional/commoditised, then the customer need not have to heed the supplier.
However, if whatever is being purchased is complex and requires and even depends upon “after sales” support, then there is a very different dynamic that comes into play. The customer needs the full commitment of the seller and their company.
So, in such a situation, where does the power lie?
The answer has to be that it is a mutually shared property based upon a reciprocated respect each for the other. That seems counter-intuitive, does it not? Trust a seller? Good luck with that, one might hear some say!
Sales people have a lot more power than frequently they believe they have, especially in a consultative selling situation. And yet they give it away. How so?
By the way they behave. If it is true that you can differentiate by the way you behave, it surely follows that such differentiation can have either a positive or a negative effect.
How does a seller instil in the customer or the potential customer a positive effect?
Picture this simplified mini-story by way of an illustration. It is a business environment. A potential customer contacts a potential seller and says something along the lines that, having researched the market (ie; all the websites, YouTubes etc.) they are now wanting to engage and so what are the differentiators of the seller’s products and services and how much is the price?
How might a seller respond? What are the options? The seller could detail all the “differentiators” and give at least a “ball-park price”. The seller has been responsive to the potential customer, has tried to be helpful in answering the question. However, where is the focus of the dialogue? It is upon the seller’s offering. Where is the balance of power? It is with the potential customer. What has the seller done with their power? Given it away. What is the likely response from the potential customer. Maybe, “I’ll think about it and let you know”; that sound familiar? And how would the seller record that in the sales process and in the CRM? As a lead?
How about if the seller responded instead with a question, such as: “what are you looking to accomplish”? Where now is the focus of the ensuing dialogue? What then is the likely response of the potential customer?
Precisely, this is a very different conversation right from the get-go. And in such a way, the seller also has some power; being courteous and engaging the potential customer in a meaningful dialogue where they can begin to share ideas and treat each other with mutual regard and respect and from which each can disengage with integrity if no business basis for continuing emerges.
But, what if the potential customer does not want to “play ball”? If that is the case, then, I guess, the seller has a decision to make. Who loses? Where does the power lie?
In a complex sale where a consultative approach is required, is it not the case that the outcome the seller is endeavouring to achieve is one of, to use the analogy at the top of this, a “monarch-to-monarch” relationship? And, how could that be attained?
How would it be if seller was to differentiate in such a manner, not by focusing upon product and company but by taking an interest in the potential customer’s situation; by asking good questions and responding to the answers accordingly and differentiating via behaviour?
If you are curious about this, register your interest by contacting me, John Busby, to discuss at: firstname.lastname@example.org; + 44 7968 066 165
Copyright© 2016 John Busby