True Customer collaboration is not easy. Customer Collaboration requires Commitment t0 true partnership fashion with the customer.
There are 2 things that get in the way of that collaboration:
• Your approach, and
• The customer’s reaction to your approach
Both amount to the same problem; your Approach
Sales people who focus on partnerships create customer collaborations. The most important skill in collaboration is not the most obvious of skill sets. Presentation skills or product knowledge are not that important in advancing your relationship to a more collaborative state. Instead, customer collaboration is all about:
• Questioning for need – not about your product, but what the Customer is trying to accomplish
• Linking customer need to your product’s capability: Can you link their Need to your Ability to better Enable them?
• Collaborative behavior: Ensuring that you are collaborative by being sincere with the customer and establishing a dialogue about business issues, not just talking about product features.
In Short, Forget about your Product/Service for a short Time. Focus instead on the Customer.
By focusing on the customer business issues and centering the dialogue on understanding customer need, you establish the all- important linkage between business issues and how well your product can address these issues. This becomes the basis for a collaborative relationship.
Example: A successful sales person I coach began making a point of spending more time with customers after the Sales Cycle had been closed than anyone else in his particular group. His stated reason was that “I want them to be successful with my product.” He found that his customer respected him a lot more because of the extra time that he, the Sales Rep, spent on things that were not purely “sales” oriented. As a result, he became much closer to his customer.
The customer began to bring ideas to him, and by being available and interested in their business, he started to make the move towards Trusted Business Adviser. Within a 6-month period, roughly 3 times as fast as any of his fellow sales team I was coaching, he had gained the respect of a large client and was rapidly assisting the client with new, lucrative projects.
If you want to be a Trusted by your customer, Give them a Reason to Trust You!