Customer Focus Creates Competitive Advantage

There is one phrase that sets top sales performers apart from the pack: customer focus. This is because outstanding sales results depend on the ability to think from the customer’s point of view, while understanding the customer’s agenda, buying cycle and best interests.

Beyond a superficial reading of immediate customer needs, the very best
salespeople gain a deeper understanding of both the buyer’s long-term goals and the overall business climate.

They understand that:

  • At the heart of customer focus is the art of listening constructively. The best salespeople are masters at capturing information.
  • Customer focus means taking the customer seriously. Today, the salesperson who clings to the product orientation of a decade ago is losing ground.
  • As client companies branch into new markets and unfamiliar territories, they are demanding unique, flexible solutions from their vendors that are customized to support specific goals.
  • Another myth that can be exploded is that, while customers value flexibility, being too flexible can undermine the sales relationship. On the whole, salespeople imagine that customers value a vendor’s responsiveness above all. However, recent research shows that their primary concern is reliability.

In order to maintain customer focus, the best salespeople become facilitators, creating a partnership that extends the selling relationship within the customer’s company. The motivation to achieve this should be strong — it costs five times as much to attract and sell to a new customer as it does to an existing one!

Doing Business Is a Right to Be Earned

The right to do business has to be earned and never assumed.

Rather than doggedly asking for business, the very best salespeople work to keep the relationship moving toward a sale. They realize the need to identify how to turn their company’s products into real solutions, which must meet specific needs.

Unfortunately, our surveys confirm that the average salesperson drags the customer over old ground as much as 52 percent of the time. They are unable to provide continuous stimulation and never know when to treat an existing customer like a new one.

Conversely, exceptional salespeople make such “return” calls only 10 percent of the time. Above all, earning the right to proceed requires gaining the customer’s trust, and top salespeople work diligently to establish a climate in which the customer is willing to share information and feels comfortable doing so. The key here is integrity.

Part of the Process

Customers are persuaded when they are part of the process and not part of the audience.

Sales success today demands a radical shift from the “peddler” mentality of merely demonstrating products and expanding on their features. It requires treating the customer as a participant. More often than not, a flashy sales presentation alone alienates rather than persuades.

The best salespeople regard the sales call as a two-way conversation — not a onesided pitch. They have developed active listening skills. Average salespeople score fairly well in their ability to provide customers with facts and figures, but top performers dramatically outscore the rest when it comes to gathering information.

In addition, how a salesperson collects information still distinguishes exceptional achievers from the rest of the pack. Top performers ask better questions and, as a result, gain much better information. Essentially, they aim to engage customers in the buying process with questions that require thoughtful answers and stimulate curiosity. These questions reveal the customer’s underlying needs.

A Fresh Approach to Selling

Many organizations have developed without objective analysis of their purpose and structure. The buying power in many industries is no longer evenly distributed — in a large number of markets; a few big firms control the majority of purchases.

The development of new marketing techniques has meant that some tasks
traditionally performed by the sales team can be more effectively handled by other methods. The prime objective of all sales staff is to gain business. From an organizational point of view, however, how they all achieve their goals must be defined in order to identify what kind and the quality of skills that are required.

Customer focus is now totally at the heart of successful selling.

Copyright © 2019 by Jonathan Farrington All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission of the publisher.