Tired of losing customers to your competition? Learn what you can do to strengthen your position.
How may sales opportunities started out strong with the customer calling you first only to be lost to a competitor? What happened?
In a previous article on Emotional Favoritism, I discussed how to create a value-added relationship with your potential customers by leveraging your network to address ALL their needs. By creating value beyond what you sell and building a trusting relationship, you maximize the likelihood of the customer calling you first. Being called first gives you an edge over the competition, but it doesn’t guarantee the sale.
Most ‘sure thing’ sales are lost because during your initial contact with the customer you failed to help the customer understand that you can address their needs and are capable of delivering the solution. If the customer does not trust in your ability to solve their problem and deliver a solution at minimum risk to their credibility, then the customer will keep searching for a viable alternative. Fail to establish credibility and you force your customers to do the unthinkable: call your competition.
Understanding the Psychology of Buying
The second part of successful selling is what I call ‘First Call Effectiveness’, a critical component in maintaining your emotional favorite status. If you can shift a customer from the searching for a solution to the point where they feel they have a solution, the customer becomes emotionally attached to that solution and moves on to addressing other needs.
The customer begins to emotionally invest in your solution telling their boss or coworkers about how they found the ideal solution. Once they’ve invested in your solution, they can’t choose a different solution until the first solution provider lets them down giving them cause. Additional research is an exercise to justify the soundness of the solution and drive the price down. The next vendor now has to overcome or eliminate that emotional involvement in the initial solution.
Walk a mile in your customers’ shoes
Think of the last time you decided to purchase a specific product or service. With your mind made up, you call your preferred vendor. How quickly does your desire cool if they can’t solve your problem or don’t respond immediately to your request. Like most customers, you probably moved down your mental checklist to the next vendor hoping the competition will value your business.
It happens all the time. Why should you as the customer wait to purchase a product or service from an unresponsive or unknowledgeable vendor? You shouldn’t. And your customers won’t either.
Path of Least Resistance Selling
How you react to your customer when they approach you in a favorable buying mood will ultimately determine your success. First Call Effectiveness is a key component to ‘Path of Least Resistance Selling’.
As a sales professional, your job is to remove all barriers to buying. The easier it is to buy your product or service, the more likely the prospect will move forward. Leave your customers waiting for your internal processes to catch up and unless you sell a one-of-a-kind, absolutely must-have product, your prospect will move on or opt not to buy.
How Credibility and Risk impacts Selling
First Call Effectiveness relies on establishing credibility to the point where the customer’s perception of your credibility is greater than their perception of risk of doing business with you. If your potential customers don’t believe in your ability to solve their problems and deliver the solution, they will continue searching for alternatives.
When a customer calls you first, you have a unique opportunity to shape a solution to their problem around what you sell. What starts out as a simple need could expand to an integrated solution given the proper approach and careful research during the first call your customer makes to you.
First Call Effectiveness: Maximizing your Credibility
Rule One: Don’t end the sales call until you have either a) solved the problem or b) established credibility with that customer. For whatever reason, solving the problem immediately may not be possible. In those cases either: 1) ask to put your customer on hold and find a solution or 2) establish your customer’s belief in your ability to deliver a solution and request to call back with an answer within a specified timeframe and make sure you meet or improve upon that delivery date.
Rule Two: The key to establishing your credibility is to engage your customer in problem solving dialogue by asking questions like:
- If we could do A (primary need) and B (secondary need) without C (an undesired outcome), would that be a suitable solution?
- How soon do you need a solution delivered by? If we could deliver our solution in the timeframe you have provided, what would prevent you from buying from us?
- If they say nothing, move on to getting what you need from the customer so you can get started.
Now that the customer is committed to you and your solution, they are unlikely to contact the competition until you have completed designing and pricing the solution and then it’s simply a matter of comparison for good measure. The difference is you had days or weeks to shape and present a solution whereas your competition will be asked to respond immediately.
Maximizing your first call effectiveness will always position you well to win the sale because you’ve made it easy for the customer to choose you and established an emotional barrier for your competition.