Sales is often viewed as competitive. It can easily be seen as such as we talk winning and losing sales. Sales people compete with one another. We talk strategies to overcome objections, strategies to close sales. We measure conversation rates. We ‘ring a bell’ when we get back to the office as a sign of success. Everyone high fives and congratulates the sales person – very few ask about how the client felt. Ask how the sale improved the clients situation.
There are some key issues where this competitive focus can become detrimental to client satisfaction and, ultimately, sales success:
What can happen is this creates an ‘adversarial’ view of our client. Someone we need to win. To conquer. This can create a ‘win at all costs’ sales approach where the victory of the sale is more important than the satisfaction of the client. Sometimes resulting in a sales person winning the battle of the sale – only to now have to wage war with a client they never should have sold to, or sold to incorrectly.
Our clients aren’t adversaries. They’re the lifeblood of our business. Without them we have no reason to exist. Why compete with them? Especially when we need to work with them the following day.
Size versus Impact
We see this in sales regularly – situations where the most celebrated sale is the biggest sale of the month or the sale that generated the most margin/revenue. However, do you stop to consider that your smallest sale of the month could have been the one that have the most significant value to your client.
This thinking can result on the effort you put in for smaller sales. The care. Choosing to dig in for the big sales at the expense of the smaller ones. With little regard to the value of that sale to the client and their business. We can forget that for our clients that single interaction is the only one they may have with our business that month. To us it is one interaction of many on the way to our monthly target. Do we risk demeaning that interaction as a result of scaling our effort to match the value of the transaction to us?
No Sale, No Interest
Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them. ~ Kevin Stirtz
In fact, that client interaction may not even be a sale. Because of this competitive mindset, you can run the risk of losing interest where there isn’t a sale. Relationship management is often about administrative tasks that don’t (directly) contribute to your sales results. It is easy to lose interest in these tasks in lieu of winning deals. We can get annoyed with clients calling or emailing us for ‘mundane tasks’ that take our attention away from ‘selling’ (do you see the irony?). Again, we not only forget that this may be the only (and possibly last) interaction our clients have with us this month – but seldom think that it may be next month we’re selling them something.
It is when sales people realise that, in fact, they are on the same side as the client, working in their mutual interests, that genuine selling occurs. Sure, they need to meet the needs of the business they’re working for – but only do so where it truly meets the needs of the client first.
Sales isn’t a tug of war with your client. Sure a competitive sales culture isn’t a bad thing – but sales is much more rewarding and sustainable when you walk with you client, rather than feel you’re competing with them to win.