During a conversation with a successful telco, I had to defend the position that I was ‘always talking about the value chain from the customer’s perspective’. At about the same time another business owner stated that the ‘customer doesn’t tell me what they need, I tell the customer what they need.’
At its very basic level there is nothing wrong with that position, providing we have earned the customers trust and have become the one source of information that they can rely on. That the customer has devolved all responsibility for that are of their business to us. Any other set of circumstances will rely heavily on a cult of personality, smoke and mirrors or as we are increasingly being taught ‘good sales technique’.
We had the misfortune of being in the market for new windows recently and was subjected to this ‘good sales technique’ when looking at all of the options available. I am in no way a window expert, but when the salesman covered his note pad and told me that he had written a figure down, but would only tell me what it was if I could guess the number. I showed him the door and thanked him for his time.
When we sell anything; time, product or service we are asking the client or customer to hand over money in return for value. The customer will assign value to the transaction based on how we have answered these three main questions.
Is it credible?
Is it relevant?
Is it useful?
There is nothing new in this approach, but if you can’t answer these questions the customer won’t be in a position to assign value. They may buy the offered solution out of a lack of time, options or knowledge, but all of these things are mutable. Given more time, peer reviews or additional research the transaction can move from ‘solution’ to ‘mistake’. At that point the chances of repeat business disappear.