When I ask salespeople why their customers buy from them I get a variety of answers. I hear: “Because of my great service," or “I know a lot about the products they buy.” Perhaps: “I have called on them for a long time and they trust me," “Billy and I played football together in high school," “We go to church together”, and the like. I have never once heard: “Because my price is lower than the other guy’s.” The truth is, that while there are a lot of reasons why customers buy from you, one of the biggest reasons is that your customers (assuming that you sell a fair amount) like you more than they like someone else. Why they like you is normally a combination of the above. What can you do to get more customers to like you more than the other guy? Here are a few things that have worked for me over the years:
Don’t lie. This may seem simplistic, but I have seen many salespeople ruin their career by lying to their customers. Don’t lie about what your products do; don’t lie about when you can deliver; don’t lie about anything. If a customer catches you in a lie, you may as well move on to another customer.
Have your customer’s best interests at heart. Many times in your career you will be confronted with a situation in which a customer wants to give you an order for something you know isn’t the best solution to their problem. Amateurs take the order. Pros turn it down and steer the customer to the company that has what they need. Passing on orders that aren’t the best solution for your customers is one of the best ways to get a customer to like you more than the other guy.
Get your customers to trust you. How do you get customers to trust you? That’s simple; don’t make claims about your product that aren’t 100% true. If your customer sees over time that you’re 100% accurate with what you say about your products, it will take a lot for a competitor to take this customer away.
Get them to respect you. Respect is similar to trust but has a few key differences. Respect is pretty much the sum total of the above. Customers also respect winners. Don’t ever beg for an order or ever do anything that could be in any way construed as being unethical. Once your customers respect you they will have little interest in talking to the competition.
You offer the best “value.” Amateurs try to get business by having a low price. Pros get business by having the best total value. Total value doesn’t necessarily mean best price. It means that, all things considered-price, service, quality, delivery time, credit terms, etc.-you offer a better value than the competition. Your having the best total value isn’t always apparent to the customer. That’s where salesmanship comes in. It’s incumbent upon you to sell your total value, not just your price.
What else has gotten your customers to like you more than the competition? My readers and I would like to know.
Jim Sobeck is president of New South Construction Supply, West Columbia, S.C., and author of the Biz 101 blog athttp://jimsobeck.tumblr.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.