People buy your product or service because they believe something good will happen as a result of the purchase. This is especially true for highly experienced business buyers who have seen it all and heard all the promises from everyone else. They buy to satisfy some specific purpose, and they look for results in satisfying that purpose.
Consistently winning in business-to-business selling calls for fully understanding the buyer’s needs, delivering solutions to those needs, AND making sure the customer recognizes the results you produced.
People in sales are especially prone to believe that the better they get – and the more they know – the better quality they offer; and the better services they provide, the better their sales and customer loyalty will be.
Many examples prove that this is simply not true.
A brilliant accountant may know all the laws, help write textbooks, teach other professionals, be quoted in journals and on radio talk shows. But if he can’t demonstrate serious tax savings to you, what good is he?
An investment advisor may have her own television program, be quoted daily in the money magazines and have a tremendous portfolio of impressive clients. But if she can’t make money for you, you will fire her.
A doctor may be a graduate of the finest medical school, have interned at the best hospital, be serving on the board of a half dozen organizations and be your brother-in-law. But if he can’t cure your tennis elbow, you’ll look for another doctor.
The most important criterion for choosing a professional is results. Beyond relationships, beyond price concerns, results are what really matter.
Relationships, quality products, knowledge of the business and fair pricing will continue to be important as we evolve in business. But the bottom line for your customers is in seeing measurable results. And if you are not demonstrating them, someone else will, leaving you on the outside looking in, asking to be a back-up supplier or dropping by occasionally with a sample and a price.
That’s no way to be treated by a customer. But the fact is, unless you are doing more than giving a fair price on quality products, the customer reasonably calculates that you deserve nothing better. Besides, the perception is everybody has fair prices and quality products.
The ‘Best’ Is a Myth
The fact is your customer is not searching for the best product or the best distributor, or even the best price. All of these things are assumed to be just sales claims.
Advertising legend David Ogilvy once asked, “How long will you search for the best, when someone good is readily available?” (Not long.) “How often do you even know the best when you find it?” (Not often.) “How do you respond when someone claims to be the best?” (Doubtfully. We have heard this before.)
Providing Measurable Results
You must be in a position to prove that you can provide measurable results, or the prospect will assume you are making empty claims, like the rest of the “me, too” suppliers on the street.
Those measurable results should focus in one of two areas: how dealing with you can increase customer sales or profits, or how you can reduce losses.
Five Steps To Measurable Results
- Understand the customer’s business issues
How does the customer make money or lose money? Where are the profits, and what margins are expected? How do they survive? How do they grow and succeed?
- Know what issues are most important to the customer
Good probing skills will help you discover where the customer’s greatest concerns are, and what he or she expects or wants most.
- Benchmark the results you are getting for your present customers
Know why your “XYZ program is increasing sales by 9%.” Identify the impact you are currently making on the customer’s business. Are you reducing the cost of inventory? If so, by how much? Are you cutting labor costs? If so, by how much?
- Measure customer results as you make improvements
Know what results they are getting when you start, and then show them the improvement in black and white. That’s the measurable part.
- Document results and gain customer acknowledgment that the results are legitimate and correct
All the results you provide are worth nothing if the customer does not recognize the value you are adding. We recommend a quarterly review to ensure that you are communicating your measurable results on a regular basis.
When you can provide measurable results for your business-to-business customer, the customer will reward you with loyalty and repeat sales.