Although the sales game is in constant turmoil, there’s one thing that’s always the same – the best way to succeed is by putting your customers first. After all, the customer is always right.
What if I told you you don’t have to implement cutting-edge AI tech or advanced prospecting software? All you have to do is adjust your sales approach so it focuses more on customers’s needs and wants.
Enter customer-centric selling – a sales approach that focuses more on a humanized approach to sales that focuses on solutions rather than sale metrics.
In this article, I’ll go over everything you need to know about this sales methodology – what are its core principles and benefits, how to build a customer-centric sales team, and much more.
Understanding Customer-Centric Selling
Customer-centric was first introduced in the 1980s by a trio of sales experts, best-selling authors, and sales trainers Michael Bosworth, John Holland, and Frank Visgartis.
As I mentioned in the intro, customer-centric sales is a sales methodology that encourages your sales team to prioritize customers’ needs ahead of their personal agendas. This allows your sales team to speak to the customer on a more personal level (by offering advice and solutions), which will result in reaching their goals.
That’s all nice and well, but how does that differ from other sales strategies?
Unlike product-centric sales, which focus on developing the best possible product, the customer-centric approach focuses on analyzing customers’ needs. In other words, customer-centricity fully relies on creating the best solution for the customer.
If you’re a bit confused about this, here’s a nifty example:
Let’s say you’re running a social media growth service, and a customer is wondering how they can see who viewed your Instagram post. Instead of pushing for the sale from the get-go, you’ll first help the customer with their problem and then try to sell them your service.
This approach offers tons of benefits, including:
- Capturing qualified leads – since this approach focuses on spending time with the customer and solving their issues, your sales team will have an easier time getting qualified leads since there will be fewer objections and general friction in the later stages of the sales process.
- Build a competitive advantage – these days is pretty difficult for companies to stand out since every branch of industry has tons of fierce competition. But with a customer-centric mindset, you’ll be able to build a strong bond between your brand and your customers. This way, you’ll be able to stand out from your competitors since you don’t see your customers as walking, talking wallets.
- Create meaningful interactions – Everybody loves it when they’re appreciated and valued, and customer-centricity is all about that. By actually talking with the customer about their problems and pain points, you’re building a long-lasting relationship that will result in a positive conversion.
- Increased Revenue – since you’re creating a personal bond with your customers – you’ll get way more qualified leads than with other sales strategies.
Building a Customer-Centric Sales Team
Building a customer-centric sales team will take some time. After all, not every salesperson in your company has the amount of empathy or patience to deal with every customer’s wants and needs.
Luckily, there are eight relatively easy steps you can follow to build a sales team that’ll fully focus on the customer rather than the product.
#1 Customer Is Always More Important Than The Sale
You need to train your time in such a way that they always prioritize building positive relationships with customers over making a sale. This will make the customer feel valued, which will result in a positive conversion later down the line.
#2 Always Ask For Feedback
Without customer feedback, you won’t know how you can refine your sales process. This is why it’s crucial you ask your customers for feedback whenever it’s appropriate. Some of the most common methods of getting feedback are with post-sale survey emails or even phone calls (it all depends on the type of business you’re running).
#3 Try To Always Be Available To Your Customers
If you want to have any success with this strategy, your organization must be easy to get in contact with. The best way of doing this is by implementing a live chat feature on your website and being active on social media. This will show your customers you care about them more than just pushing sales.
One of the best examples of this is CCP Games, a game studio behind legendary space MMO Eve Online. Since the entire game’s economy and even gameplay is run by players, the company decided to involve the player base in their decision-making process.
#4 Make Customer Needs A Part Of Your Decision Making
If you involve your customers in your decision-making process, that will make them feel like they have a stake in your company – resulting in increased brand loyalty. You can do this by running polls or creating a dedicated platform where customers can share their ideas with you.
#5 Create A Customer-Centric Narrative
Think about why your company exists and write up a mission statement that perfectly explains your customer-centric approach to doing business. Once you have that nailed out, you can start brainstorming ways of making your mission statement a reality.
#6 Hire Customer-Oriented Sales Experts
Your sales team is the face of your company, and they’ll be more effective if their personal values align with those of your company. If you foster a team that’s enthusiastic about helping customers and fulfilling their needs, you’ll see your revenue rising each quarter. Look for people who are willing to take the initiative and find genuine joy in talking with customers.
#7 Try To Anticipate Customer Needs
Don’t just focus on your customers’s current head. Train your sales team to find patterns and anticipate what customers might want in the future. Of course, you don’t have to put all that burden on your sales team – you can also develop a platform where customers can share ideas and feedback.
#8 Maintain The Relationship Even After The Sale
Train your team to keep relations with customers even after they’ve made the sale. This will lead to more sales in the future. The best way of retaining customers is by implementing a customer loyalty program that’ll give them discounts and even gifts with their purchases.
Tips for Sales Team Engagement
Here are a couple of tips that’ll help your sales team engage with customers on a more personal level.
Before I continue, keep in mind that clear communication is key to achieving goals.
#1 Don’t Pitch Your Product, Make Conversations
Communication is king. Your team needs to engage in conversations that are relevant to the customers. You should also encourage your team to ask for feedback.
#2 Don’t Give Options Use Deeper Questioning
Encourage your sales team to ask questions that will uncover customers’ problems, opinions, and pain points. Your team also should offer opinions if a customer didn’t ask for one – that can be pretty offputting and will risk the sale.
#3 Speak The Customer’s Language
Your customers don’t buy features and benefits – they buy emotions. That’s why it’s imperative you train your team to talk about how your product will benefit them instead of talking about its features.
#4 Close Sales On Your Buyer’s Timeline
Every single interaction in the sales process is critical. One wrong move, and you can say goodbye to the sale. This is why you need to encourage your team to provide the best possible customer experience so the customers feel appreciated and valued every step of the way of the sales process.
As is the case with all sales strategies, you’ll encounter challenges along the way. You’ll have to straighten out many kinks. and even change some of the fundamental values of your organization.
Here are some of the most common challenges you’ll face along the way:
Lack of buy-ins – Executive commitment across your whole organization is imperative. Your team leaders need to provide resources and support to employees under them to make the sales happen.
Troubles sharing data – It can be pretty difficult to break down already existing data silos within your company. You’ll have to find a way to share and parse the sales data with all strata of your company so nothing about the customer experience gets lost in the scuffle.
Unwillingness to change – humans are slaves of their habits. The same goes for your employees, Some of your salespersons will push back on the changes you’re implementing since they’re not looking at them through the lens of the customer. I recommend you often remind your employees that you’re all working towards the same goal – delivering the best possible customer experience.
Lackluster Employee Support – a customer-centric approach to sales is not a thing you implement once. It’s a process that needs constant adjustment based on customers’ needs. Unfortunately, people don’t like constant change, which is why you need to encourage everyone to do what’s right for the customer.
Customer-centric selling has been around for more than four decades now, so it’s not surprising that there are quite a few companies that have found success with it.
The best example of this is Amazon. This sales giant is obsessed with customer experience. In fact, they continually invest in new tech and processes that can further hone customer experience. From product recommendations based on your previous purchases to a robust algorithm that predicts what you’ll need in the future – Amazon is a shining example of how a customer-centric company should operate.
Another great example is the tech giant Apple. This company is famous for creating a seamless, unique customer experience. Apple’s products, services, and retail experiences are set up to provide an enjoyable customer experience at every step of the sales process. From their timeless product design to excellent service in Genius Bars and even their app store – Apple’s customer-centric approach to business is pretty evident.
Sure, switching your company from a product-centric to a customer-centric sales approach comes with tons of challenges and difficulties, but it’s all worth it when it’s all said and done.
By making your customers feel appreciated and valued, you’re slowly nurturing a relationship that can last forever. Once you establish a loyal customer base, you’ll see your revenue rising with each quarter – that’s a guarantee!