There was a time where sales efforts focused on getting as much product or service sold as possible. We worked with sales quotas based on monthly, quarterly, and annual numbers. If you approached a used car lot, you might have dreaded it because you knew the salesperson would be selling hard, and perhaps it’s not an approach that you appreciate. While that hard sale kind of practice is still used today, it has for the most part become very unpopular with our customers. They tell us that when sales are about being pushy, upselling, and designed to convince people to buy things they may not need, they do not want to buy from us. Instead, those hard selling practices are being replaced by a focus on what the customer needs.
We can figure out what our customers need by exploring what their challenges are and how we can help to minimize those challenges. When we take a real interest in our customers we develop relationships with them that ultimately help us to sell more. When customers have a choice about who to buy from, they shop with companies that they like, that they have positive feelings about, and that they know will help them with a problem. While you may not like each of your customers personally, it’s important that your attitude reflects that you enjoy your work, and being able to help your customers.
There are several terms in current usage for this type of selling, but most often you will hear Customer Focused Sales, or Consultative Selling. While the titles sound simple, it takes consistent work and skill development to be effective and to generate sales no matter how we do it, and these relationship models make a big difference in your results.
A customer focus should be applied at each sales opportunity that you have, including telephone calls, appointments, presentations, and each conversation throughout the process. Depending on what you sell and the complexity of the buyer’s decision, the process can be very brief (a phone call or visit to your front counter, for example), or it can take several months.