A best-seller for me at the moment is sales training. That’s certainly a sign of the times, when businesses are pushing harder and harder for every scrap of custom they can get in a marketplace where people are really only willing to splash out on the essentials.
As regular readers will know, I firmly believe that the provision of outstanding customer service is the key to attracting and retaining customers, particularly in these tough times. And sales and selling are no exception. In the World of Winnthinking, sales are at one end of the customer service spectrum, marking the beginning of an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship in which satisfying your customer’s wants and needs is the central principle. Not for me the ‘foot in the door’, arm-bending techniques that got salesmen a bad name in days gone by.
So, I have recently been reminded of a wonderful concept in selling, which absolutely chimes with my outlook, and which you may find interesting. It’s a phrase that was coined by The Marketing Guild (www.marketing-guild.com) and it is this: Unique Perceived Benefits (UPB).
It’s pretty hard to design and deliver a sales training session that doesn’t mention certain venerable buzzwords, like ‘FAB’ (knowing the Features, Advantages and Benefits of your product or service) and ‘USP’ (the Unique Selling Point – what is it that makes your offering different from everyone else’s?).
The wonderful thing about the UPB (Unique Perceived Benefit) focus is that, unlike the Unique Selling Point, it starts with the customer’s point of view – not yours. So much poor selling focuses on what you, the salesperson, want to push towards the customer; “our product will give you this!” “Our service will provide you with that!” How do you know those are the things the customer is after?
When instead your starting point is asking the customer what it is they want to receive from their purchase – their Perceived Benefit – you are suddenly providing less of a sale, and more of a customer service. Doesn’t that feel more comfortable?
And the secret to finding out what UPB the customer is searching for? Shut up and listen. In a profession where the ‘gift of the gab’ is so highly prized, salespeople do that all too rarely.