We have all grown up with this mantra placed on our sales and service mantels, haven’t we? This is rightfully so, because a customer is a customer, not always a prospect for your offering. A customer might be defined as an entity that has bought from you previously that you now continue to serve. Period. A prospect might be defined as an entity (either customer, former customer or not) who is a candidate for a new product or service from which they may benefit. But many of us in sales sometimes confuse a customer with a prospect. I like to proclaim that while the customer is always right, THE PROSPECT IS ALWAYS WRONG! But in the heat of the sales chase, I often hear the sales person say, “Well the customer said show me xyz and I showed them xyz……”. Ugh. They forget they are selling to a prospect, not a customer.
While your prospect may be a current or former customer and deserves the appropriate care with regard to the product and/or services they have already purchased from you, they must be seen as a prospect for the new product or service you think may benefit the client. And THE PROSPECT IS ALWAYS WRONG!
I like the slogan of one famous merchant who promotes, “An educated consumer is our best consumer.” As a sales pro, that proclamation scares me. It means they see no need for our profession. They have just replaced toll-takers with FastPass! (I’m sorry, bad analogy for sales pros, but you get the picture!) What do sales pro’s do anyway? We teach, educate, evangelize, question, question and question even more to understand the reasons behind pain, challenge and/or opportunity. Then we match our products/services to those needs, show a benefit and close. This is the work of a sales pro.
If the prospect knew what they wanted and what would serve them best from my shop (my definition of a commodity), I would eliminate my sales force and set up a 1-800 order-taking line. I would probably even forget about the 800 number and set up ecommerce on my web site. It is much less expensive. Why do I need a highly paid sales force if my prospects understand their needs and my products enough to make a successful match? I don’t, all I need is a web site.
I know, I get it. Sometimes the prospect is demanding and wants answers based on the research they have done. We feel compelled to respond instantly with answers, not with sales techniques that will provide the prospect with the best product/service at the best cost. In this day and time, the prospect can gain an upper-hand on the research they have at hand, i.e. thank you internet. (This is a good thing!) But they can never truly understand your products or services and how they can solve problems and challenges unless your company provides such detail on their web site, that they no longer need you. Check your company web site now and then!!
The sales pro is an expert at uncovering the prospect’s needs, understanding his/her own product offerings and making matches to create benefits. The sales pro then closes on these benefits. The prospect is not an expert in this field. Never! And don’t let them think they are! The next time a prospect says, “I want to talk about xyz…..”, what’s your next response?
2 years ago