Anybody who knows me knows that I seldom pass up a chance to quote the legendary agent Dicky Fox from the film “Jerry McGuire.” Fox explains, “The key to this business is personal relationships!”
Maybe it’s not true of all industries, but it’s definitely true of the ones I’ve worked in. I’ll get to why that matters in a minute.
As a salesperson, you have responsibilities to two other parties. You have a responsibility to your client to maximize the value of the solution you’re creating for them. You also have a responsibility to your company to maximize the profitability of that solution.
Framing client relationships this way pays off long term. If you do a great job, the client will want you to do it again sometime, either with them or for people they’ll refer you to who could use your services (which benefits them). That repeat and referral business will benefit the company and you.
So what does it take to maximize the value of your solution to the client? Speaking very broadly (as this applies to everything from consumer electronics purchases to enterprise solutions), you come up with solutions to their problems. This is something that meets not only the needs they came to you for, but the needs they didn’t know they had until they met you.
In order to do that for your clients, you need to get to know them, not just as clients but as people. The more you learn about them, the more in-depth your assessment of their needs is going to be.
There are several reasons why that’s important. Part of it is getting a better handle on their requirements. There are requirements that brought them your way in the first place, but what else lies below the surface, just waiting to be uncovered in casual conversation with the client?
Rooting out those needs helps you maximize the value of the solutions you present to the client, and it maximizes the value of the transaction for you and the company. That’s one of those win-win-win scenarios.
Another reason for a deeper, comprehensive needs assessment is to find out what will solidify their purchase decision and make them say yes. What brought them to you in the first place might be the driver that makes them want to buy, but something else entirely might get them to “yes” faster. Find out what it is.
The final reason for spending time getting to know your client is to build rapport and trust with them. The better the relationship between you and the client, the more they’ll trust your recommendations. The greater the trust they put in you, the less sensitive they are to price.
This was drummed into me a long time ago: you can sell on trust or you can sell on price. If you choose to sell on price, that’s all you have. That’s all you are to the client: a dollar figure. If the dollar figure is all that matters, then you, your company and your product are replaceable. You’re not going to be able to maximize the value you deliver to the client or the profitability of the client relationship for the company.
Build trust in you, the company and the solutions you’re providing. Now the price doesn’t matter as much. It’s you and your expertise they’re paying to deliver what they want. Now you’re no longer as replaceable, and you’re in a better position to deliver on the value that both your client and your employer want you to provide.