As you know, the customer service market is rapidly changing, with new technologies emerging and older ones being updated every day. Along with the progress in technology, there is also a shift in customer behavior. The modern customer is highly demanding, informed and resourceful.
In order to adapt to this new type of customer, you need a different sales approach. This approach is based on genuine interest in listening to the customer’s problem, and using your skills, knowledge, and eager willingness to solve them.
“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.”
– Ray Kroc
Targets and bonuses have been a driving force in sales for decades, and while it’s nice to have something to motivate you, problems arise when nothing but those factors holds any significant value in your sales process. To help you build a more customer-oriented sales team, consider the 6 tips below:
1. Caring is the First Step
In Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, not only will you see brilliant acting and a dynamic, fascinating storyline, but you’ll also witness the true definition of not caring about your customer. That type of sales process and business model isn’t going to do you any favors in today’s customer-savvy world.
As SuperOffice points out, “The customer is firmly in the driving seat and with it comes a required change in how you build and nurture relationships with potential and existing customers.”
The company goes on to say that when you put the customer at the heart of your organization, you will experience an increase in customer lifetime value, as well as a reduction in churn.
If you don’t care about your customer, you’re missing out on a good opportunity to stand out from the competition by providing a more meaningful, and value-filled experience. When you sincerely care, however, you’ll be more open to recognizing pain points and gaining deeper insight into the customer’s problem and how you can best solve it.
2. You Need to Actively Listen
Along with a deeper level of caring, comes a deeper level of listening to your customer.
“An important role in improving your listening skills is played by curiosity. You need to stay curious about every new deal and every new customer. That’s your chance to grow and learn more, which will bear fruits in your future endeavors. Try cultivating curiosity as one of the main features of your talks with customers.”
~ Melanie Sovann, Studicus
Actively listen to your customers. They’ll pick up on how invested you are in the conversation and you’ll gain valuable insights that will help you determine the best solutions to offer your customers. In turn, you’ll build much stronger connections with them.
Making your customers feel as though they’re talking with a trusted advisor or friend will make your conversations more comfortable and relatable, and you’ll build trust in the process.
3. Use Your Knowledge & Skills to Deliver Value
While it’s essential to have an abundance of industry and product knowledge to succeed in sales, the skill of turning product features into benefits is even more important in closing a sale.
“Product knowledge is the key to communicating benefits to a customer, and will help you in each step of the selling process,” says Business Queensland.
“No matter how many facts you know about a product, if the consumer doesn’t see the value in owning it, they’ll pass on it.”
According to HubSpot, “One of the most effective ways to provide value to your prospects and customers is to help educate them on a topic of interest.” By taking an education-first approach instead of rattling off a recycled sales pitch, you become the customer’s go-to resource for information.
When the customer is ready to buy, your product will be a compelling choice because you demonstrated value first, instead of pushing the sale.
This approach will differentiate you and the company you’re representing, as well as simplifying the process of closing a deal.
4. Don’t Treat Your Customer Like a Number
Your prospects aren’t just a number—a lead you’ll cross off your list once you’ve made your sales pitch or closed a sale.
For example, if you’re a propane company that wants to gain a new residential account, don’t email the potential customer a five page contract to sign before you even utter the word, “Hello.”
Be personable, and engage with your customers about more than just your product or service. This will demonstrate your genuine interest in them, not just the sale.
Offer your lead some benefits of working with your company and ask them questions. Then let them explain their needs and what they are looking for. This will provide insight into how you can best serve the customer and help you better position your product or service for the sale.
When you focus on the customer, you’re focusing on a long-term relationship. Providing this type of relationship will earn you word-of-mouth customers and boost your inbound marketing efforts.
5. Align Your Mindset With Your Actions
Being customer-centric shouldn’t be a sales-only strategy.
The customer-first approach should be an organizational culture that’s introduced during the onboarding process. It’s important to hire candidates that fit your company culture and train them how you’d like your customers to be treated.
“The key is to clearly define what YOUR version of being ‘customer first’ looks like and then adjust or create processes, operations, culture, and behaviors that bring that to life. Leaders, managers and front line employees all have role in building this kind of culture and achieving the results it promises, but it’s your job to prepare them for success. “
“Successful companies find a balance between prioritizing customer needs and meeting business goals,” says HubSpot. “They create effective customer-first strategies that benefit both their employees and their customers.”
6. Ask For Customer Feedback
Even after going through the process of defining and implementing your customer-first strategy, you’ll never truly know how effective it is unless you obtain customer feedback.
“Surveying customers on a regular basis (i.e., quarterly, bi-annually, or at a schedule of your choosing) can offer valuable insights into your target audience. Consider their feedback, and use it to fuel your decisions,” advises HubSpot.
Don’t forget to survey employees, too. Employee satisfaction and happiness are equally as important as the customers’. Ask them how they feel the customer-first strategy is working out and encourage them to offer ideas for improvement.
In recent years, there has been a shift in the way sales organizations measure their progress in finding and converting leads.
Sales executives are losing interest in the traditional concept of the sales funnel—companies are looking for ways to establish authentic, long-term relationships with customers.
A customer-first strategy can help them achieve that goal. And it’s a smart approach to take when you consider that consumers make 70% of their purchases based on how they’re treated.
Follow the tips above to help you build a customer-first sales approach that will yield improved sales results!
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