If you are struggling to grow your sales, you might be tempted to tell a prospective customer what they want to hear not what they need to hear because you are afraid of losing the sale.
Not only a bad move, it’s a terrible one!
Because prospective customers aren’t stupid – they get it. They can tell if you are lying or trying to pull the wool over their eyes. You might make a single sale – but you lose a reputation. And peeps like this give selling a bad name and why you get the stereotypical salesperson who wants to sell you at any cost. This approach might make you short term sales but it will cost you in the long run. Why? Because the customer will never trust you again. Worse still, they will bad-mouth you to everyone they can, particularly in this day of social media.
What really matters to prospective customers is the following:
- Trust & confidence
1. Trust and confidence
Why is trust so important when dealing with customers? Trust is everything. Depending on the researcher, over 92% of friends and family trust their recommendation and 70% trust the reviews or testimonials of strangers. People don’t buy from people they don’t trust which is why prospective customers ask their friends and family who they would recommend when looking to buy something.
If you sell a product not a service, customers will very quickly figure out if the product they bought does what you say it will do. All they have to do is use it.
If it doesn’t do what you promised, they will never buy from you again.
Even worse, if they take to social media and you are unaware of it, what negative things they have to say about you can go viral very quickly.
If you sell a service, it’s much harder for a prospective customer to assess if what you are about to sell them will work for them because selling a service is intangible. They can’t feel it, hold it or even touch it. They have to imagine what your service will do for them and if it doesn’t, perception is reality. Their reality is their truth.
Trust is not only important pre-sale, it is also important post sale and here’s why.
Why customers leave
No business holds onto all of their customers forever. Slowly they leave through natural attrition.
- 1% leave because they die
- 3% leave because they move away
- 5% leave because they want to support a friend in business
- 9% leave because they are sold to by a competitor
- 14% leave because of a lack of perceived value
- 68% leave because they believe you either don’t care about them or they felt let down
What the…….. 68% leave because they think you don’t care about them! That’s either indifference during the sales process, a lack of customer service, the product or service didn’t do what you promised or you didn’t look after them after they bought from you.
Contrary to popular belief, people don’t always buy on price. They only buy on price where a product is identical. They mostly buy on value.
Value is subjective. What value means to one person means something different to another. Value is synonymous with trust and confidence. The greater the investment, the greater the need for prospective customers to have trust and confidence in you as a seller.
Trust and confidence is the number one most important thing to a prospective customer. Not just pre-sale, post-sale as well. Without trust, you cannot influence the prospect to buy. The Circle of Trust is like a three legged stool. Trust first, then influence and lastly delivering on your promise.
When anyone of these legs fail, the stool topples over and you are out there in the market looking for a new customer to replace the one who left.
Research tells us that it takes on average six times more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer. It doesn’t make sense to ‘waste marketing dollars that will cost you six times more than looking to retain existing customers when all you have to do is earn their ongoing trust and confidence.
Have you ever met someone for the first time and you take an instant dislike to them? Of course you have – we all have. Equally, you meet people for the first time and you feel like you have known them forever. This instant connection is known as rapport.
Building rapport with a prospective customer is extremely important because when you are in rapport with someone, it means you trust each other.
People do not buy from people they do not like!
I’ll say it once again; people do not buy from people they do not like.
Building rapport with a prospective customer is one of the most basic skills you must learn if you are looking to sell your products and services. Not only is rapport important through the entire sales process, you must continue to stay in rapport with your customers after the sale. Remember, 68% of your customers will leave because they think you don’t care about them.
Getting prospects to like you
Dale Carnegie in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, talks about the first nine human relations principles. If you learn to master these principles, you will quickly get prospects to like you. BUT – you must do it sincerely.
- Don’t criticize condemn or complain. Criticizing your prospective and current customers not only damages your relationship with them, it damages your own reputation. It builds a negative culture and shows you lack respect for the people who keep you in business.
- Give honest, and sincere appreciation. Why not acknowledge the obvious and sincerely thank your customers for their business? They need to know you care. This is especially important after you have made the sale in order to retain them as a customer.
- Arouse in the other person an eager want. Customers buy for their reasons not yours. It’s important they understand how your products and services will benefit them. Following the Bi-Sell-Cycle™ process will help arouse in them an eager want.
- Become genuinely interested in other people. Be genuinely interested in helping your customers buy what is right for them. Don’t tell them what they want to hear for your own gains. Help them buy from you by being genuinely interested in helping them succeed.
- Smile: One of the quickest ways to get into rapport with a prospective customer is to smile. When you give a smile, you get one back immediately breaking down trust and confidence barriers.
- Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language. There is no excuse not knowing who your regular customers are and remember their names. It’s an attitude as well as a skill. You remember names if you put effort into it. Saying you can’t remember names is a poor excuse for being lazy and not caring.
- Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. A business runs on information, especially sales. Listen with everything you’ve got and prospective customers will feel like you care about helping them. Listening allows you to get to the bottom of a prospective buyer’s genuine needs, not their wants. This is an important aspect of building trust and confidence.
- Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. Customers won’t care about you until they know how much you care about them. One of the quickest ways to form a long and lasting business relationship with others is when you focus on helping them succeed with their customers and achieve their goals.
- Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely. When you form a strong bond with prospective and current customers, they will continue to buy from you because they will not only trust you, they will feel a real connection with you. This builds customer loyalty.
When you master these nine principles, you have built trust and rapport. If you continue to build trust and rapport, you are future proofing 68% of your business where your customers feel like you care about them.
Going back to our ‘stereotypical salesperson’ who looks to tell, tell, tell then sell, sell, sell, often without having the faintest clue of what a prospective customer’s needs are. You must, above all else, be able to differentiate between a customer’s wants and a customer’s needs. If you give them what they want and not what they need, you break that circle of trust.
A customer may come to you telling you what they want, and because you want to make the sale at any cost, you give them exactly what they ask for. This is a recipe for disaster.
Remember the 68% who leave because they either feel like you don’t care about them. Care about helping them succeed and the sales will flow.
By following the Bi-Sell-Cycle™, asking effective questions and actively listening to their answers, you very quickly get to the bottom of what a prospective customer’s needs are. This is how to gain a real understanding of what a prospective customer’s real needs are. They feel listened to and more important, understood.
When they feel that you have a real understanding of what they are looking to achieve, they then have trust and confidence in your recommendations and are more likely to buy from you.
Prospective customers look to engage with companies who are expert at what they do. It’s a product or service they need, to resolve a problem they have, or realize an importunity to gain rewards. Your products and services must match their needs. They want to have trust and confidence in you as the expert and rely on you to provide an extra layer of confidence after they have bought from you.
The quickest way to lose a customer is for them to lose trust and confidence in you because they feel let down, especially if you broke a promise and the product or service didn’t do what you said it would.
Think about a time where you bought something, got home then felt ripped off. There is no way you will ever deal with that seller again.
This is why you should never lie to your customers.
Provide excellent after sales service
Metaphysics talks about the law of reciprocity. Whatever you give out, you get back. You give out a smile, you get it back. You deliver excellent after sales service to your customers, they will give you back their loyalty and buy from you again.
With ongoing customer loyalty, you do not have to spend scarce marketing dollars on trying to attract new customers all the time.
After sales service is everyone’s responsibility, not just your customer service people. Anytime a customer has contact with you or anyone else in your company, this leaves an impression. You want to make sure it leaves a good impression so that you retain your customers.
Here are a few tips to help with customer retention.
- Create a customer service charter
- Train your staff in customer service (yes, even the accountant or book-keeper)
- Remember customer’s names
- Keep in touch with them at least once every 90 days
- Solicit feedback from your customers on how you can improve your service
- Conduct focus groups to discover new ways to serve your customer better
- Offer something free that is of great value to them and little cost to you
- Under promise and over deliver
Businesses aren’t perfect just a people aren’t perfect. You will receive complaints. It’s not just the complaint that matters, it’s how you handle it.
- Handle the complaint quickly – don’t let it get out of hand
- Listen actively without interrupting
- Acknowledge how they feel
- Agree with their right to complain and thank them
- Empathize with their situation
- Offer to help and explain the choices available
- Tell them what you will do and when
Above all, follow up and keep your word!
Even if that customer never comes back to you, make sure they feel heard and understood and leave them with the feeling that you had their best interest at heart.
Next time you are tempted to make a sale at any cost, think about the real cost in terms of your reputation and the ongoing viability of your business.
On a final note
When you focus on building trust and confidence throughout the sales process and after the sale, you are more likely to retain a loyal customer.
In a Nutshell
The four most important thing customers want are:
- To have trust and confidence in you
- To feel a connection and that you care about them
- You understand the difference between their needs and wants and you help them succeed
- That you kept your word and the products and services you provided did what you said they would
Never lie to a customer just to get the sale. If you do, you lose more often than you win.