Top 7 Tips on How Customers Want to be Sold
By Zuheir Mheir
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This comes from a class project research I have done (just finished the class yesterday!). The class was "Customer Client Relationships" for a Telecomm Masters Degree at the University of Denver.
Today's customers are sophisticated and highly educated of their needs. The following guidelines can help vendors run a checklist in preparing themselves to meet their perspective customers. This checklist can help vendors succeed to accomplish a sale, be customer-centered and to keep a loyal customer. The benefits to reap can go beyond the one customer satisfaction to encompass the success of a vendor in becoming a market leader.
- Know your customer well before meeting them. What is the customer's product line? What is the customer's mission statement and culture? What kind of systems does the customers already have installed in their network? Is the customer already a client of us, the vendor? What kind of support systems the customer anticipates the vendor to provide? For any of the previous questions, vendors should prepare themselves with accurate and up to date answers.
- Know your products well. The customer expects the vendor to know their products and further be able to fully differentiate their product line from competitors. Further, the customer expects the vendor to be able to communicate these differences clearly with no ambiguity. Best Practices, by Arthur Andersen, tells us that "the foundation of a successful sales effort is knowledge of customer's needs and an ability to communicate how your products and services best fit those needs. What training system does your company use to educate your salespeople and service technicians on (1) identifying customers' key needs and (2) differentiating your products and services from those of the competition?"
- Radiate your company's image. Best Practices provides an insight into building the vendor's image. Andersen says: "How do you go about building a positive image for your company and its product? How do you help potential customers understand that they need your products and services". That is very true! Often an unheard of vendor finds it very hard to reach customers. Customers, especially large corporations, usually consider well-known and reputable vendors first. It is the vendor's responsibility to know how and where to build and deliver such an image.
- Deliver what you promise plus one percent. Don't promise what you can't deliver. For an exercise, try to put yourself in your customer's shoes when they do not get what they were promised at the sales meeting. The customer expects a service no matter what department of the vendor's organization gets involved in the product delivery. Your product has to live up to your customers' expectations within the boundaries of your product's advertised and sold capabilities. Often, promises stop short soon after the vendor has collected their bills! As for the once percent Raving Fans advice, customers will always appreciate your continuous improvements to your products and services as long as you keep delivering at the same level of perfection.
- Be prepared when you meet the customer. It is one of the deadly sins of loosing customers in MindSpring's 14 Deadly Sins by Jason Zigmont, "Preparation is essential to a successful demo, sales call or the like. Time is precious. If you go into a meeting unprepared, you will waist everyone's time and lose the respect of the people you meet with."
- Place key emphasis on your account team. The customer expects the vendor's account team to be:
- To know about previous contact sessions and is able to continue a session from where it was left off.
- Able to provide immediate resolution of a service or support call.
- Able to provide accurate commitments.
- Able to provide accurate information.
- Listen to your customers' complaints. Not only responding to complaints but also vendors should proactively call upon their customers. As advised by the Raving Fans, know how to listen to your customers not just the music but also the lyrics.
Periodically, you need to check on your customers. 'No news is good news' is the worst ideology to follow for a customer's satisfaction check. When customers are silent, you can't assume they are satisfied. Often customers don't bother to report problems with your product, they are already looking at someone else's product line!
Today's Top7Business Article Was Submitted By Zuheir Mheir, Sr. Engineer of MCI WorldCom.
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Article Submitted On: May 14, 1999