Published in: 2005
If the old rules said “talk it up until your prospect bites”, the new rules say “start by listening to the prospect”. Your product or service is not unimportant. But it is secondary to the customer’s perception of his own situation. People buy for their own reasons, not for yours. The “concept” often signifies the preproduction blueprint – the theory that the marketing and R&D people had in mind before the product became a reality. That “concept” will not be equally significant to all potential buyers – or ever going to be as significant to the customer as for the developer.
INDIVIDUALS HAVE CONCEPTS. What is bought is what the customer thinks the product or service will do for him or her. The concept is subjective, linked to individual values and attitudes, and different for every customer. By ignoring or working against the customer’s decision-making process, you ensure confusion, resentment, and – sooner or later – lost sales.
UNHAPPY CUSTOMERS. A study conducted for the White House Office of Consumer Affairs in 1985 showed that 96% of unhappy customers never complain directly to the salesperson, but 91% of them will not buy again from that salesperson. The average unhappy customer will talk to at least nine people about the experience. 13% will tell over twenty other people. Customers ending up in “buyers remorse” or “buyers revenge” is not good for business.
BUILD LONG-TERM. The individual order is never enough. You also need satisfied customers, long-term business relationships, solid, repeat business with your “regular” customers and enthusiastic referrals to new prospects. This means that sales transactions involve mutual dependence. The philosophy of Win-Win selling recognizes that mutual dependence and gives you a reliable method long term. The goal is not to increase just any business, but good business – which is by definition Win-Win business. Don’t oversell expectations, don’t get suckered into a giveaway, hear the customer out and be willing to talk.
WHY WIN-WIN DOESN’T HAPPEN. When Win-Win doesn’t happen, it’s often because the salesperson has not made a conscious enough effort to ensure that it does happen. Most commonly, she assumes her win is more important than the customer’s win, or that the customer will win automatically because he’s gotten a “great buy”. In other cases, salespeople don’t even think about this at all. In all these cases, they end up with Win-Lose.
THREE TYPES OF THINKING. You will always encounter the same natural order: (1) Cognition thinking allows the decision-maker to understand the situation he or she is facing, (2) Divergent thinking helps the person to explore options and solutions, (3) Convergent thinking enables the person to select the best solution.
THE CUSTOMER DECISION-MAKING PROCESS. The new conceptual selling is a road map where every customer makes buying decisions in a series of predictable and logical steps, that can be identified and tracked by the seller. By systematically following this sequence and helping your customer to follow it, you discover either (a) there is a solid fit between his needs and the solutions you can offer, which can lead to a quality sale, or (b) there is no such fit, and you should not be doing business together in this particular situation.
THREE KEY PHASES. Phase one is getting information – involves finding out the customer’s reasons for being interested. Phase two is giving information – involves describing and demonstrating your product or service, but only in relationship to the needs of the individual customer. Phase three is getting commitment – so that the two of you share commitment to the buy/sell process (it doesn’t mean “overcoming the customer’s objections”).
CUSTOMERIZING. Customizing the sale is the only way the seller can survive, long-term. Understand the customer’s concept, and connect your product/service by relating cost/price, descriptions, packaging, technologies, specifications, demonstrations, capabilities, and proven results. Broad knowledge in highly technical products can become a liability if you fail to distinguish these essentials.
ACTION COMMITMENTS. What is the minimum commitment to accept to continue to invest in this sale? Does he or she really want to play Win-Win? Otherwise, you may be wasting both of your time. As your expenditure of time and energy increases throughout the selling process, your customer’s degree of commitment must also increase. If commitment isn’t mutual and incremental, you’re spinning your wheels.
THE MYTHS OF TRADITIONAL SELLING. Four common beliefs constitute a kind of mythology of traditional selling. (1) “push the slinky sphinx” – i.e., product push, (2) trial-and-error of your bag of selling techniques until something work, (3) memorize a script, (4) do more legwork – i.e. assume that your techniques are fine and that the problem must work harder, and (5) “you gotta believe” – i.e. all you need is positive thinking. Don’t buy into these myths.