Customer relationships are, and should be, a top concern of your sales team. If your clients and prospects don’t feel that your business values them, they’ll simply move on to another company. However, there must be a separation between relationship building and always agreeing with what’s important to the customer. Focusing only on reinforcing the customer’s perspectives can keep your sales team from providing real value to clients and prospects. The definition of a customer relationship is in a state of flux, as is the role of the salesperson. By focusing on outdated notions, your sales team could be missing opportunities to provide clients with exceptional value—the kind of value that leads to return business. If your sales team is missing targets, you may need to re-examine what customer importance means to your team.
There was a time when a building customer relationship meant putting the customer on a pedestal. A salesperson would listen to their problems, and then propose solutions that fit the customer’s understanding of the problem. No effort was made to challenge a customer’s ideas—the goal was simply to sell them a ready-made solution for a preconceived problem. That model doesn’t work anymore. Customers are more educated and informed than ever before, and have more resources at hand to work with. In short, if all your sales team provides is solutions, the customer simply doesn’t need them. Solutions can be identified with a simple internet search, and purchased at a discount online.
Challenging the Customer
This changing paradigm makes it especially important to find the right approach as quickly as possible. Most customers are doing basic buying research for themselves—identifying problems and solutions long before they interact with a salesperson. By the time they contact your sales team, they already have a vision of the path from problem to solution and the only role your team plays is to try and bid low enough to be the solutions provider. If the vision isn’t disrupted, your sales team will end up in a bidding war that nobody can win.
It’s the job of your sales team to identify risks and challenges that customers have overlooked. Using their insights into the industry, their customers, and their competitors, your sales team can look beyond the obvious and identify unforeseen issues that lay ahead. Those insights allow them to disrupt the established vision of the customer, forcing them to consider, and engage with, the issues raised by your sales team. This demonstrates considerable value, and helps establish your sales team as a valuable partner, instead of a simple supplier.
Changing With the Times
The Insight Sales Process™ a new way to build customer relationships. There was a time that it was considered good business to treat customers like royalty and never challenge or contradict them. That system is no longer viable. To demonstrate true value, your sales team has to be able to find the things that are important to the customer, even if those things contradict the customer's preconceived ideas. Your salespeople have to be willing to challenge customers, and push them in directions they hadn't previously considered. This will lead to a more trusting and consultative relationship where the customer shares insights that can be used to align unparalleled value. Otherwise, your sales team will be relegated to the role of a commodity supplier in a market filled with competitive suppliers.