Whether business-to-consumer or business-to-business, sales jobs account for a huge share of the workforce.
And with competition in sales fierce, you might think there would be plenty of analysis guiding companies and workers on how to do their very best to win and keep customers.
Not so, say sales experts Dave Stein and Steve Andersen. Most commentary on the topic focuses on one narrow aspect of the job – closing the deal.
“Point-of-sale strategies make sense for retail, although I think most customers and consumers want more from a salesperson than thinly veiled interest just to get a signed contract,” says Stein, a widely cited strategist.
“Customers want to be confident that they are doing business with organizations that understand their business and the uniqueness of their requirements,” says Andersen, president and founder of Performance Methods Inc. “A long-term, trust-based relationship proves beneficial for both parties – especially for a B2B customer. They don’t want to have to go looking for a new provider each time they require additional solutions, products and services.”
As co-authors of “Beyond the Sales Process: 12 Proven Strategies for a Customer-Driven World” (BeyondTheSalesProcess.com), Stein and Andersen offer tips to sales people for a long-term strategy in getting and keeping customers.
- Do your homework. If you’re going to connect your services to a customer’s needs, know what those needs are ahead of time, before a potential sale has even started to take shape. Don’t assume that the goals of the next CEO you speak with are the same as the last one. Do research specific to each prospect.
- Give them a reason to love you. Get to know them on a personal level. Learn about their passions and what makes them tick. Relationships matter – a lost concept among many in sales today.
- Stay engaged with your customer after your last sale and before your next. As with any relationship, customers want to know they’re appreciated and respected on a human level, not just financially. Stay in touch and try to engage with them regularly to discuss the things that matter most to them. Follow their business on social media and react to their successes.
- Leverage past successes to earn their commitment for the future. Validate the impact of what your solutions, products and services are doing for their business. As progress continues, explain to them how your will continue to create value with them in the long-term.
“As ink dries on the contract, stress levels drop for the salesperson, but it rises for the customer,” Stein says. “Keep your eye on the ball.”
Andersen says, “It all boils down to them trusting you – before, during and after the sale.”
About Dave Stein and Steve Andersen
Dave Stein is a sales consultant and strategist whose expertise has been widely sought after as a top-tier media source. Steve Andersen is president and founder of Performance Methods Inc., a sales and account management performance consulting firm whose clients include industry leaders and many of the world’s top companies. They are co-authors of the evidence-based “Beyond the Sales Process: 12 Proven Strategies for a Customer-Driven World” (BeyondTheSalesProcess.com).