As I prepare for tomorrow’s seminar I am reminded of the similarities between a relationship-driven sales process and the dating/marriage cycle.
If we assume, in this comparison, that marriage is akin to the first sale, when the prospect moves to “customer” stage, then we can also assume, much like dating, that loyalty to one another begins prior to the marriage (first sale) step. How many of you would be married right now if there was no commitment from your spouse prior to the marriage? Probably very few!
Assuming the pre-marriage relationship cycle is first date, courting, and engagement (or lead recognition, qualification/discovery, verbal commitment in business), I think I’m safe to say that somewhere in the middle of courting, and definitely before engagement we expect fidelity from our partner. In fact we do things that encourage fidelity in the relationship. First, we talk about it; second, we agree that, for the time-being, we believe that we are good together; and finally, we act with that fidelity in mind.
Should it be any different in business? No! We need to start talking and acting like we are looking for loyalty in business. How do we do this, prior to the sale? With actions like:
- Seek to understand the problem
- Make your prospects problem your problem
- Talk about your loyal customers
- Talk as if you are already “together”
- Listen more than you talk
- Don’t sell your service/product but offer them as solutions to a problem
Much like personal relationships, there are things that we do that let our prospects know we are not serious about looking for a loyal relationship. Many companies fall prey to the transaction sale. Actions similar to the following show that you are more interested in a transaction than a relationship:
- Discounting your product or service
- Selling features and functions verses benefits
- Leading the sales process with a demo of your product/service before even seeking to understand the problem
- Offering incentives to use your product/service
Loyalty starts far before the “sale” and your words and actions speak volumes on how much you value loyalty. Likewise, if you start out with transaction-driven sales, you should not expect loyalty from the prospect once they become a customer.