Sales are not only the main source of revenue for companies but it is also a way to communicate about their strategy and their brand positioning.
Everyone agrees that the purpose of any business is to increase sales, but often the need to make more profit comes at a high cost. The price for reaching aggressive target revenues is losing focus on the customer as a central business partner. In the current business environment, customers tend to avoid doing business with sales’ focused businesses and are well aware of argumentation techniques. They even refer to sales conversations as ‘sales pitches’.
Imagine a salesman selling headphones to a person with a hearing disability to reach his sales’ target. A product not suited for the targeted audience. This transaction may seem like a usual sales transaction while it is actually a huge loss especially in the era of social media. The company pays a high cost from its reputation and brand positioning which in turn translates to mid and long term losses.
In the meantime, many companies advertise Customer Focus as a strategic pillar in their market approach while their sales strategy (including targets measurements, sales incentives, sales training…etc) pinpoints a clear sales focus with a minimal attention to satisfying the customers’ actual needs and expectations. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate for a company who focuses on customers to set a target of 5 million satisfied loyal customers rather than an increase of 20% in sales? You would think it is, unfortunately, many of these companies still set revenue targets with a minor focus on customer specific metrics (satisfaction, engagement, loyalty, promotion, detraction…etc). When sales conversations are tailored to sell the product or service rather than listen to the customers’ needs, it is more likely leading to short term and opportunistic business relationships. Nevertheless, companies with a high sales focus still found a way to ensure mid to long term revenue by locking customers for a longer period of time. This is one reason a ‘commitment free’ market has emerged with an increasing demand for less commitment and more customer service.
Companies seeking profitable long term business relationships need to redefine their approach and train their staff to be advisors rather than sales people. Advisors are subject matter experts who help customers identify their needs by offering guidance rather than focusing on closing a deal. Visionary businesses’ need to have the courage to kill the sales switch and showcase their products’ and services real added value for customers. Altruism pays off in business…as well!