Thursday, February 1, 2018

Sales as a Dialogue

When trust has been established between a vendor and a customer, the customer may grant the vendor permission to participate in the earlier phases of the process.  For example, a hardware clerk might be approached by a customer who wants to buy a nail, but by asking a few questions about what the customer is attempting to accomplish he might help them recognize that they should use a bolt instead.

In that situation, a poor salesman might sell them a nail, knowing that they will fail and eventually return to purchase a bolt.   At the same time, a poor customer would turn a deaf ear to expert advice and insist on getting a nail.  Because the trust of customers has so often been betrayed, they may be reluctant to listen.

Ultimately, both the seller and buyer benefit from a more interactive process of information-sharing, but it takes time to build that rapport.   This is another reasons that companies that are impatient to make a sale often blow a deal they might have otherwise won: the customer must not only have confidence in the product, but in the seller.

Sales is a dialog, which is a reason that face-to-face selling is recognized as the most effective way to sell: the salesman may begin with a patter, but eventually interacts with customers, responding to their specific questions and sensing their level of comfort to know when it is appropriate to ask for the sale.

The problem with marketing, long before the Internet, is that it is not done face-to-face: a message is sent out that is hoped to have mass appeal, is hoped to be reaching the right people, is hoped to be reaching them with the right message.   There’s no way to know, and there’s no way to adapt the message or receive feedback until the customers buy (or don’t).   Effective marketing is getting in closer touch with the needs and interests of each customer.

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