Exceptional Customer Experience

An Exceptional Customer Experience Begins With Your Sales Interactions

The customer experience continues to be an incredibly hot topic, largely driven by companies like Apple, who are relentlessly focused on providing customers with a great experience from start to finish. For companies with a sales team, delivering an exceptional customer experience really begins with the interactions buyers have with your salespeople.

Is Sales Serving the Customer?

Much of what has been written about sales effectiveness is focused on meeting the seller’s needs – helping them convince more people to buy their solutions. Please don’t get me wrong; many sales training programs stress the importance of understanding the customers and meeting their needs. But close examination finds that these approaches focus more on the seller winning a deal than on the buyer making a great decision.

So, let’s step back from our desired outcome – getting a sale – for a moment. What does a remarkable experience look like from the buyer’s perspective? When we consider our sales interactions in this light, we get a clear picture of three things our model must deliver to all prospects and customers to provide an exceptional customer experience.

Solve Their First Problem First

Too often, salespeople focus on figuring out how their products and services will solve customers’ problems and/or help them achieve objectives. On the surface, this seems appropriate and may become the right approach at some point in the process. However, every seller on your team must understand that any prospect or customer meeting with them has a problem that takes precedence over your products and services. As discussed in our blog, Solving The One Problem All Buyers Have, these buyers are struggling to figure out what is best for them. If they cannot get comfortable with their decision, they won’t be comfortable with our solution either.

Therefore, the primary service salespeople can and should provide is meaningful, expert decision-making assistance. This means salespeople must become experts at evaluating solutions and making informed business decisions — not just presentation skills, negotiating tactics, or closing techniques.

Teach Them Something They Don't Already Know

Another part of providing buyers with an exceptional experience is providing them with meaningful insights. Unfortunately, this is sometimes interpreted to mean that salespeople should try to tell buyers things about the buyer’s business they don’t already know. Now, perhaps you are one of the very few companies with the research staff and intelligence needed to make your sellers more of an expert at other people’s businesses than those who work in these companies every day. However, more often than not, this attempt to educate buyers about their business cannot be adequately supported and falls flat. This doesn’t mean we cannot provide meaningful insights, but it does mean we must shift our focus from general insights about their business to insights about how other companies are solving similar problems or evaluating similar alternatives.

For example, suppose your buyer has a defined project to evaluate how to best leverage new technology in their trucking company. As a provider of this technology, you may never know as much as they do about trucking. However, they will likely evaluate this once every several years or perhaps once in a career. But you talk with people about this technology, the associated business issues, and the criteria for evaluating solutions every day. They may only build one business case for this decision, and you may see three in a given week. You may even have helped those other companies to develop clear, differentiating decision criteria tied to their specific business objectives. Because of this, you have tremendous insights about how the technology can impact their business and the types of things other companies, possibly even other trucking companies, consider when evaluating this technology. These insights can help the customer make the most informed decision possible and provide an exceptional customer experience — provided you present them not as a salesperson but as a BUYING ASSISTANT, fully committed and exceptionally skilled at helping them figure this out.

Remain Passionately Dispassionate About Your Solution

Even if it makes sense to use the discovery or qualifying steps in your process to focus on helping the buyer define clear, differentiating decision criteria, what you must do when presenting your solution and addressing concerns may throw you for a loop. Even now, many experienced salespeople believe their passionate belief in their solution will somehow infect the buyer and convince them that it must be suitable for their business. Not only is this not likely, but the passionate belief salespeople also have in their own solutions may even reduce their chances of winning and detract from the customer experience. Think about it; people don’t generally want to be convinced or sold something. They simply want to be certain they are making the right decision. It isn’t the right decision to buy from a particular salesperson because that person is enthusiastic. Every buyer would expect that. A given decision is right because it is the best alternative based on the unique criteria of this particular buyer and their situation.

Therefore, our objective when presenting our solutions cannot be to convince them that we have the best alternative. Instead, it is to help them determine whether or not we have the best alternative for their business. Far too often, great work during discovery/qualifying is overshadowed later in the process because an overzealous seller believes they can persuade the buyer to purchase from them and overcome any objection they face with a forceful and confident presentation. 

Please don’t misunderstand; I am not advocating for weakness or insecurity. I am suggesting that confidence in the superiority of our solutions must be based on how well they are aligned with the buyers’ criteria. When we focus our energy on understanding our buyer’s business, using insights to help them to create clear differentiating criteria, and presenting our solutions based on this information instead of our unwavering belief that we should win every deal, we create an exceptional customer experience throughout the sales interaction. As one client recently told me, “selling this way transforms our relationships. Buyer’s actually ask us why other salespeople don’t treat them the same way.” Finally, presenting solutions based on the buyer’s criteria helps ensure that what they buy, and the experience they have with it after they buy it, is completely aligned with the expectations they had when they bought it. When their expectations and experience are aligned, or we over deliver, we have a satisfied customer who will be happy to refer us to others. And when they don’t … I think we all know how powerful and counterproductive buyer’s remorse can be!

Want to talk more about how your sales interactions can provide an exceptional customer experience? Axiom provides a unique alternative to traditional sales training. Unlike traditional sales training events,we embed our methodologyinto your sales cadence, delivering dramatically better sales results. To learn more about our Mindful Selling Methodology, Kinetics Sales Effectiveness Platform, or our unique, guaranteed approach, please visit us atwww.axiomsaleskinetics.com.

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