This post has been contributed by Miller Heiman Group.
Many sales organizations adopt a product or service-centered approach, meaning their key decisions focus on what they have to offer, and their ultimate aim is to sell these products or services to as many customers as possible. However, increasingly, there is an acceptance that this ‘one size fits all’ approach is not the best strategic choice.
The alternative is to adopt a customer-focused approach, selling different products and services to different customers, based on their individual needs and circumstances. This approach puts customers at the center of sales strategy, places an emphasis on customer service training, and aims to maximize the lifetime value of customers.
Here, we look at six strategies to improve your team’s customer-focused approach.
1. Create a Customer-Focused Culture
The first step to building a comprehensive customer-focused approach is to create a customer-centric culture and achieve buy-in from all departments. Every employee, from sales staff who communicate with customers, to marketers who make initial promises, have an influence and it is important that all are on the same page.
“When other departments don’t buy into it, you won’t achieve true customer focus,” says Nattalie Hoch, Channel Distribution Officer at MHI Global. “It has to be driven from the top…and it needs to be more than a tagline.”
2. Gather and Share Customer Information
When customers are the focus, rather than the things you are selling, it is important that you gather information about them and treat them as individuals. The use of a quality CRM system can help sales staff to tailor their pitches, while also allowing for more detailed, personal conversations to take place.
It is also important that customer information is shared between departments. For instance, if marketers or sales consultants find out information, it should be passed to sales reps in time for it to be of value to them.
3. Invest in Training and Customer Service Coaching
Customer service is an important concept in any sales organization, but it takes on even greater significance in companies adopting a customer-focused approach. For this reason, it is essential that sales staff receive customer service training and that training is backed up with customer service coaching activities.
CSO Insights’ 2017 Sales Manager Enablement Report highlighted the lack of time many sales managers spend on coaching specific staff behaviors, with 47.1 percent spending less than half an hour per week. This needs to be increased and coaching needs to be formalized to generate sufficient results.
4. Prioritise Customer Retention
When customers are placed at the forefront of your selling strategy, the goal should be to foster long-term relationships. This means looking out for their long-term interests and assisting them as their needs change. In addition, there are also clear business benefits to prioritizing customer retention.
Research shows that loyal customers are worth 10 times the value of their first purchase, while the probability of selling to an existing customer is significantly greater than the probability to sell to a new one.
5. Carry Out a Social Selling Strategy
One of the best ways to build and maintain meaningful relationships with your customers is through leveraging social media as part of a social selling policy. When customers see that you provide them with content, knowledge, and insight, rather than just products or services, they are more likely to see you as a valuable ally.
When your marketing and sales department work together to create a steady stream of content, which is shared through social media, it can lead to longer-lasting relationships and improved sales results.
6. Sell Based on Value, Not Products or Price
Finally, another important strategy to adopt when trying to switch focus to customers is the concept of selling value, rather than products or price. The crucial things salespeople need to highlight are what the product or service can do for the customer, how it can help them, and what the results of that help will be, in real terms.
“Customers don’t care about products,” says Tamara Schenk, Research Director at CSO Insights. “They care about value. What they buy is the value they can achieve with your products, solutions, and services.”
About the author: Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global customer experience and sales training company helping organizations develop dynamic customer service coaching programs. She enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to develop services and sales skills in salespeople.