Many research studies have shown that the majority of salespeople say that they sell to meet the needs of their customers, yet the majority of customers say that they don’t.
So who’s right?
I was an 18 year old teller (cashier) in a bank in Melbourne in the mid-1970s. The bank brought in a new savings account called Target Savings in which the deposit amounts were pre-determined, $5 or $10, and customers got posted a cheque when they reached their target amount.
The manager said that whoever opened the most of these accounts would get a day off each month. Young Walsh fancied that and tried to sell an account to whoever walked through the door, to the extent that I got a day off each month in the first 3 months of the campaign.
When you’re holding a hammer in your hand everything looks like a nail.
The manager ended the campaign after 4 or 5 months as most of the new accounts had only the initial deposit made to them, clearly weren’t needed by the customers and were costing the bank money.
So do we sell to meet the needs of our customers or our own selfish needs?
Our own motivation to sell can include meeting sales targets, gaining commission, ensuring we keep our job or even getting a day off. This will generally be in conflict with the needs of the customer.
Further, some businesses claim to offer superior service, to the extent that they publicly make service promises to their customers.
And yes in service businesses commitment to areas such as reliability, responsiveness, competence and courtesy are highly valued and practiced. However it’s not uncommon in these businesses to again pay much less attention to the real needs of their customers than the measurable aspects of customer service.
But in our view meeting the needs of your customers, delighting them in every way, is as important as being reliable and pleasant to them.
It’s about your customers. Always. It’s never about you. You don’t sell services; you offer real solutions to meet needs. You’re wasting your time having great levels of service if you don’t do this.
Like me selling target savings accounts to anyone that I could, if you sell to meet your own selfish needs rather than those of your customer, you may get increased short term sales but ultimately you, and your business, will suffer.