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Creating Value & Solutions

"Are you creating value for your customers? Enough value? In today's new sales paradigm, unless you are creating value every single time you're with a customer, you're vulnerable to being replaced by another supplier or professional." Simply put: "you need to be a step above your competition. In this study we will provide you with an example of how to build customer loyalty and make a successful sale both at the same time.

An opportunity is always there for the sales person who
knows higher commissions result when value is created for the customer.  I often hear "Sell what you've got!" or "Just close the sale; give them whatever they will buy" when doing so does not add value for the customer. This approach really means get a one time commission for the sales person and don't consider creating customer loyalty. Just making the sale is a short term answer, giving a customer a solution and meeting their need gives the sales rep and the company real value. 

What would happen if you had products or services from multiple suppliers that you could offer customers? You know your clients and their issues. Wouldn't it be great to match an effective solution to their problem and have confidence it will work?  It is really very easy to do and it is the only way to build a clientele instead of just servicing customers.  Always keep in mind that what the customer wants is not necessarily what the customer needs. We can look at a very simple example and see what we can come up with.

Example 1

Lets say you are a sales person dealing in office equipment supplying small businesses and people who work from their homes.  One day you get a telephone call from a potential customer who is setting up an office in her house and she needs a telephone.  The answer is simple right? Send her a 1 line phone for her new desk. WRONG!!

The example above is NOT selling.  The example is called placing an order.  Lets try it again with a different approach.

Example 2

Selling is qualifying, evaluating and then conditioning.  I usually recommend asking at least three things for every sale. Try getting to know the customers needs, their environment, and what they are really trying to do; ask some questions.

  • "What type of business do you do?"
  • "How many telephone lines do you have in your home?  Do you have one telephone number for your main house and another for your business? " 
  • "How much time do you spend on the phone? Do you spend all your day in the office or do you ever need to go and do other things around the house when you have free time?"

In this example those three questions could totally change the customers opinion of what they need, and will also give you the opportunity to do more than just order them something.  Just by asking a couple of questions you have gone from being a sales person to a consultant.  You have planted the seed to up sell and to offer them solutions that will provide them value.  

  • It is a pretty good assumption that if someone is setting up a home office they do not have their customers coming to their front door.  They probably do not have a lot of in person customer contact. The first answer will give you an overview of their environment.  
  • Logically most people will have a second business line for their home so that they can distinguish between work and personal calls. Even if they have only one main number they are likely to have another line for a fax and/or internet connection as well.  So the chances are very strong that the person has at least two phone lines.
  • We need to know their habits and uses if we are going to find the customer the most useful solution. We also need to find an up sell and offer them added value.  Our third question has given us that potential.

Now lets see what he have learned and then offer them out recommendations so that the customer can make a informed decision.

For this example the answers are fairly straight forward:  
"I am a consultant who spends most of my day in my office,  this is mainly because I constantly need to be at my desk so that I can answer the phone. I don't always want my customers to know that I work from my house so I have a dedicated 2nd phone line for my business.  The last thing I need is for my kids to pick up the phone or for my personal voicemail to kick in right when I am closing a big deal. 

Like any good consultant or sales person my customers need to be able to get hold of me.  My customers expect to be able to reach me right away and if I miss their call then it means that I need to call them back.  I end up having to call they back two or three times because we always get stuck in the "tag your it voicemail hell." Also since I am a consultant I do a lot of conference calls, I spend a great deal of time talking but usually do paperwork or try and get other things done if I don't have to focus all my attention on the topic at hand."

We have learned a lot from those three questions and I think we can offer her a potential solution that will do more than just allow her to answer a call.  So lets see what we can offer her.

"I think I have a more effective solution for you than just getting a telephone for your desk.   By getting a two line cordless phone for you we can solve a lot of issues and also give you some mobility so that you are not tied to your desk for the entire day.  It will also give you the ability to be more productive by allowing you to do other things around the house while you are doing your every day work. 

Think of it this way; if you pick up your cordless phone in the morning you can carry it with you all day.  You can answer or make calls from any place in your house and if you need both hands free you can just put on a headset and clip the phone on to your waistband.  You could be working on you computer, writing or moving around your office with both hand free and with complete freedom or even making lunch, fold clothes, or water the lawn while you are on those long conference calls.  By using a headset attached to your cordless you would sound much better than if you were on a speaker phone or sitting with your neck cradling the phone as you tried to talk. 

Having two lines is useful because by connecting your business phone number to line 1 and your personal number to line 2 you are never going to miss a call.  You will always be able to distinguish between your business calls and your personal calls simply by looking at what line is ringing. Having both lines attached to that one phone also gives you the ability to make three way conference calls, and since you are paying for two telephone numbers you might as well take advantage of both lines. Think of the advantages of being able to conference in a third party to your calls. The fact that you are cordless gives you much more versatility, and if you were to add a headset to that phone you would be giving yourself even more freedom."  

What have we just done? 

We have evaluated the customer, determined both potential and existing needs, and offered solutions to those needs.  We asked a few simple questions that made the customer think and focus on the topic, their answers gave us our sales approach and all we did was fill in the blanks.  We revealed some solutions and provided suggestions as to how they could be more productive in their day.  We did much more that just sell them something, be became a resource to them.  Chances are that they will choose the solution that we offered because be have shown that it not only fits there needs but surpasses them. In the worst case scenario the customer may not end up buying the product that we are recommending but they are sure to buy something similar. We provided them with value and made ourselves into a resource instead of just taking a order.  They are also much more likely to come to us the next time they have a problem because we went the extra step and got to know what they really wanted instead of just what they thought they should get.

The secret to being a successful and professional sales executive is to evaluate the customers need and provide a varied selection from your portfolio of products & services that will work as a solution. You must be able to match your customer's problem with the appropriate solution. Forcing a pair of pliers to do the job of a wrench is not a solution.  The pliers may get the job done but it will not give the customer the confidence to turn to you the next time they have a need. 

The amount of money you earn is directly related to the quantity and quality of the work you do. The ability to uncover a need and provide a solution is directly related to your customers satisfaction and their likelihood of being a repeat customer. Sell the solution and the product will sell itself.

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