Improve Sales Performance By Treating Your Customers Like Buyers!
If we treated our customers and prospects like buyers, we would win more business from them. It may sound like a play on words, but it has profound implications for not just how you sell, but also your marketing, account management delivery, and ultimately sales performance.
If you think of and treat your customers like buyers then you are:
- Less likely to take them for granted (they are not passive recipients, locked in, etc.)
- Less likely to underestimate them (for example just how hard-nosed they are?)
- Less likely to be caught off guard (you’ll be continually looking for buying signals, or alerts)
- More likely to get the next sale (after all customers get served, but buyers get sold to)
Why Customers = Buyers
Customers can come and go, that makes treating them as buyers more important. They may be at the pre-purchase, purchase or post-purchase stage, but your customers are buyers. They will always be buying, whether they are buying from us is another thing altogether. When it comes down to it, all customers are buyers, but not all buyer are customers.
Once A Buyer, Always A Buyer!
In the era of tight budgets and increased accountability for spending, buyers don’t change their basic nature just because they have issued a purchase order. It is important for sellers to remember that they don’t just stop; shopping/comparing, being tempted by new suppliers, justifying their decisions/purchases, asking to get more for less and evaluating supplier performance.
So, if customers don’t stop thinking and acting like buyers, why do we stop treating them that way?
Think Buyer Service, Not Customer Service!
The term ‘buyer’ is more active and more challenging. It is more likely to keep the seller on his, or her toes. The term ‘customer’ on the other hand is passive. It is as if they are along for the journey.
All too often we treat our customers differently after they have bought. We switch from ‘buyer’ to ‘customer’ mode, from proactive selling to reactive deliver and support.
Take the terms customer service, customer loyalty and customer satisfaction. How different they are in character when the term ‘customer’ is replaced with the word ‘buyer’.
The standards required in terms of ‘buyer service’ and ‘buyer satisfaction’ are likely to be much more demanding.
The term ‘buyer loyalty’ in particular is one that would really stretch our notions of customer service and account management.
4 Reason To Think Buyer Not Customer!
Why you should think of your customers as buyers:
1. If you do then you won’t be surprised when they act like buyers. More and more our customers are exhibiting the characteristics of professional buyers – more hard nosed, analytic and process driven. As sellers we need to match our approach to reflect the new face of buying.
When you think of your customers and prospects like buyers you are more like to focus on their buying decision, their buying process and their buying team.
2. It will stop you from becoming complacent and taking the customer for granted. As a buyer your customer may already be shopping around for an alternative. They are continually being contacted by competing suppliers and have their antenna up in terms of new solutions and new suppliers.
3. It will remind you of the promises that you made to get them to buy from you the last time and keep you focused on delivering upon them. It will encourage you to communicate the result achieved for customers and to measure your impact on their business, as well as their satisfaction.
Buyers are increasingly being asked to review the performance of suppliers and the value for money of suppliers and purchases. That means they are evaluating your performance in the light of future buying decisions. They are assessing if you are delivering what you promised.
4. Thinking of your customers as buyers will focus you on their next buying decision and ensure that your performance in respect of the last purchase justifies a repeat, or follow-on sale. It will encourage you to understand the power and influence of all those you deal with in the customer organization in respect of future spending and encourage you to deepen your relationships.
The fact that decisions are being made higher and wider in so many organizations means that many of those who you consider your contacts in a customer organization are likely to have an influence over other organizational buying decisions. Even the end user in the client company is likely to be consulted in the next buying decision.