Sales and Sales Management Blog

November 13, 2006

Client Expectations vs. Client Priorities

Filed under: prospecting — Paul McCord @ 7:31 am

Jan Austin emailed me about one of my articles on concerning the need for salespeople to meet both the client’s expectations during the sale and their product/service priorities. Jan’s wants to know how her clients can hold her responsible for the performance of the car or truck she sells when the vehicle is manufacturered by the auto company, not be her.

Jan, the point is that when a salesperson sells anything, the client looks to the salesperson just as much, or more so, than they look to the company to insure the product or service meets their needs. You mention in your email, you accept responsibility for your actions during the sales process but don’t accept responsibility for the ultimate satisfaction of the customer with the product you sell. You may choose to not accept responsibility, but that doesn’t mean your customer doesn’t assign respeonsibility to you. It really isn’t your decision to make. Your client makes that decision for you.

Consequently, if you want to generate referrals and repeat business, you must accept the responsibility and make sure the car or truck you sell meets your customer’s priorties. This means that you must explore throughly with your customer exactly what they want from the car or truck they purchase and then be able to insure that the vehicle you sell them will meet those wants and needs and if the vehicle won’t, you must make your customer understand the limitations.

Let me give an example. Say a prospect walks on your lot and really wants X model of car. You discuss with them what it is they want and need from a new car. They explain that their priorties are 1) style and image, 2) fuel milage, 3) reliability, and 4) space for 5 adults. You further explore these prioties and come to understand that their primary need is for a fuel efficient, reliable auto that will fit within their budget, that appeals to their ego, and that will hold 4, hopefully 5 adults, although they seldom have more than two adults in the car at anytime. The car they are looking at is your most popular, will hold 6 adults with ease, has a good realiablity rating and gets moderate gas milage. The car is at the very top of what they can afford.

In order for you to end up with a satisified customer, you must explain in no uncertan terms that this car doesn’t meet their criteria. Their need for gas milage, which is their primary priority, will not be met by this car. Your job is to show them cars that do meet their criteria. If in the end they choose to purchase the original model, if you have detailed for them the features of the car that don’t meet their priorities, you have done your job. They have, in full knowledge, choosen to purchase a car that does not meet their needs as they defined them. Sell them the car they want.

On the other hand, if you have guided them to the car that does meet their needs and they choose to purchase it, you have done them a great service and have fully earned the right to referrals (assuming the other aspects of the sale went well).

You cannot force your customer to buy what truly meets their needs, but it is your obligation as an ethical salesperson to show them where the product they want fails to meet their priorties and guide them to the product or service that does. It is then their decision.

If you fail to point out where the model they initially want is not right for them and they then, after purchase, discover they made a wrong purchase, you will be held responsible in their minds. You didn’t do your job because you didn’t seek to help they acquire what they needed but instead settled for an “easy” sale and commission.

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