Respect Your Client More By Fully Valuing Yourself
I use used to work for a guy who would always remind the team that there was a big difference between servicing your client and being your clients servant. Sadly, many sales people all too often blur the line or ignore the line and fail to deal with the distinction properly.
While I fully appreciate the need to respect the buyer, but that does not mean being subservient to them or their will; the customer is not always right, especially when you bring true expertise to the deal. While there is a whole other post which can be written about the previous sentence, I want to focus on the view of the buyer when faced with a seller willing to do “things” to maintain a “relationship“.
If you sell something transactional this attitude will just lead to a squeeze: price, conditions, concessions, what have you. This is not because the buyers are nasty, but because that is the message this kind of seller is sending. “I want your business, tell me what I have to do to get it.” When the answer comes, sales people allow it to go too far at times, and fail to keep things in balance. Add to this mix a couple of competitors who are also wooing the same transaction, also willing to do “anything” to get it, and it becomes a toxic soup of “customer centric” margin erosion.
At the other end of the scale, the “Solution Sale”, the same predicament plays out differently but to same end. While many sellers will “probe”, (sounds so clinical, I feel like getting my white frock) but only again to see what they need to “get the business”. They opt not too challenge the buyer by asking the hard questions, or questions that challenge the buyer’s view point, especially when that viewpoint is wrong, and will not deliver long term value to the company.
How do you know they are wrong? Because you are the expert, if you truly are an expert in the field your “solution” addresses, and you are really successful, then you should be a walking encyclopaedia of “best practices” and common failing to avoid. In my field, I have worked with and interviewed hundreds of sales leaders, vice presidents, presidents and more. (Notice I said interviewed, not sold to, because at some of those interviews it made more sense not to sell to them, at least not then, you can always come back) As a result I have seen a wide spectrum of things that work and don’t work, things that add to my expertise daily. Things that constitute the true value my clients derive benefit and results from when they buy from me.
The same applies to you and your solution. The value you bring is as much as being in you being a peer and driving the value, rather than a friendly participant hoping for a hand out. This last statement may seem harsh, but in effect it is often what happens. If I had $100 for every time I hear a rep say, “I just want get in there hope they ‘throw me a bone’ then I can run with that and up sell them”.
I know you are saying “that’s not me, I’m cool”. Ask yourself this, and this is the real litmus test: have you ever said to a potential buyer: “I just need a quick 15 minutes of your time.” If you have you are guilty! I know you figure that if you can get in there and do a good ten minutes, then you can stretch the meeting out. Sort of like American Sales Idol, “you’re through to the next 15 minutes”. But let me ask you how much value can you truly convey in 15 minutes? How effective an interview can you conduct? If you are thinking that “I’ll get the ball started and set up another meeting”, you are not only wrong, but wasting your most valuable resource time.
If you want the buyer to respect and fully value you and your offering, to differentiate yourself, then start by fully valuing yourself.
By the way, I have always wondered, what is the tangible difference between “a quick 15 minutes”, and just you regular 15 minutes?
Oh, in case you are interested, I will be delivering a free webinar on March 4, presented by SalesNexus.com, “Leveraging Trigger Event Selling” which addresses means of dealing with some of the issues raised in this post. Click here to learn more and to register.
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