If you want a successful, sustainable business you’ll need to serve your customers. Successful leaders don’t sell products or services. Instead, they focus on serving their customers with a product that they are both passionate about, and believe will benefit their customers. The process is relational, not transactional.
The act of serving instead of selling involves a focused four-step process. Everyone who is considering a purchase will go through each of these steps regardless of the price of the item. Obviously, the time to proceed through each step increases and is generally correlated with the product price. The four-step process includes:
A qualified prospect has money, time, a need or want, and the power to make a decision. If you’re talking to a buyer that doesn’t have all four of these things, then you’re trying to make a sale to an unqualified person. If by chance the sale does occur, you will have a higher probability of a product return, canceled contract, or an unsatisfied customer. Always ensure that you’re working with the person who is qualified to make the purchase.
The second step of the buying and selling process is to build rapport. Building rapport includes professionalism and a polished attitude. You need to find common ground with the person that you’re trying to sell to. Networking and referrals can help to establish rapport in advance. When your customers are willing to tell their friends about the great service or product that they’ve received from you, the amount of rapport building that you have to do is somewhat reduced.
Know your target customer. If your customer is very detail oriented, you’ll need to ensure that you know every detail about your product before you discuss it with them. Getting into a conversation about your product without the necessary details is not only embarrassing, but it can cost you the sale. Customers who don’t trust you, your product, and your company, simply will not purchase from you.
The third step of the buying and selling process is education. Know how your product solves your customer’s problems. Be aware of the details, and know your product intimately. Help your customer visualize how your product will make their lives easier.
Be passionate about your product. It is your responsibility to ensure that not only do you believe that you are selling the best product at the best price, but your team does as well. You should also know your competition so that you can point out how your brand is different than your competitors. Don’t trash your competitors. Instead, know how your product compares.
It’s important to note that while this is the third step, many companies are now using educational content marketing to find prospects and build relationships with them throughout the entire buying process. They nurture their customers with useful education and information until they’re ready to buy.
Closing the Sale
Once you have a qualified customer that you’ve built rapport with and educated, it will be natural for them to buy from you. However, before the purchase occurs there may be a moment of increasing agitation or wariness. At this point in time the customer will either purchase a product or turn the other way. If the customer begins to turn away, start asking questions to ensure that you have completed the three previous steps. Verify that you’re talking to the qualified prospect. Make small talk to reassure yourself and the customer that there is rapport. Finally, ask questions to understand if there are gaps in the fulfillment of the previous three steps, and fill them.
Failing to go through all four steps with the buyer creates additional work and may even create backlash. You must take the time to ensure that your buyer is qualified, trusts you, and has all of their questions answered so that you can close the deal.
Zig Ziglar says, “Sales is nothing more than a transference of feeling. If you can make the customer feel the way you do about your product, then your customer will buy your product.” Are customers buying your product or service? If not, which of the steps above should you consider putting more effort into?