My wife and I leased a new car recently. Pre-COVID. We don’t change cars often, but it was time. We settled on a budget-friendly, Ohio winter-friendly, grown-up, anti-college-car car.
This was the first time at a dealership in a while. For some reason, I guess I expected the approach had changed since so many other consumer interactions have. But nothing seemed that different.
I spent some time in new car sales during college. People who know me know how ridiculous that sounds. Not because there’s anything wrong with car sales. There are absolutely great dealerships out there filled with honest, attentive sales associates. More so, because I’m what you might call a fumbling introvert.
It all got me to thinking about sales today. How it’s not really about selling at all if you’ve grown and evolved along with purchasing habits and consumer expectations.
It’s not hard to find biting stats like these when it comes to sales:
- 7 out of 10 customers believe that the sales reps are product-focused rather than customer-focused
- Only 13% of customers believe a salesperson can understand their needs.
SO IF SALES IS NOT ABOUT SELLING, WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Externally it’s about:
- Teaching: not the feature-benefits but teaching what to expect in the process and after.
- Clearing the misconceptions: allowing for transparency in who is involved, how the service/product compares, and how there’s a real possibility that it doesn’t fit with the customer’s needs.
- Acknowledgment of reservations: hearing the customer and talking with them not talking around them.
- Anti-segmentation: less lumping into groups, more individualization. What’s that you say? You can’t “scale” like that? Focus your processes on quality over quantity.
- Being a trusted advisor instead of a “consultative salesperson.” Here the conversation starts at a higher level instead of a transaction.
Internally it’s about:
- A seamless connection between marketing, brand management, and the “sales” interaction
- The right mix of Direct and Indirect (inbound, content-driven) Lead Generation
- The beginning of your customer retention efforts. Even before the first sale is complete you are building credit toward return and/or expanded business.
A recent Salesforce Research study shows that “84% of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services.”
Sales is not about selling anymore. When organizations consider the sales process part of the experience, everyone wins.
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photo credit: Unsplash