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Rabu, 20 Mei 2009

Partner Selling: Serve Your Customers & Be Rewarded

by Ed Rigsbee 
Partnering is the contemporary order of successful business! Gone, are the days of adversary relationships for sustained success. Today salespeople and companies alike need to become partners with their customers for unrelenting sales. To be more than just another vendor, glide into Partner Selling.

Step 1: Caring! Become a partner with your customers by building a foundation of caring. One strong enough to help prospects buy all they need, want, and desire. Get out from behind your perspective into their perspective. Learn to see your customer's needs through their eyes, their perceptions. Do this, and you will become their trusted partner, rather than just another vendor.

Step 2: Knowledge! Product knowledge is a given, and still; it's important to mention that from this comes the ability to sell benefits. The second kind of knowledge is that which allows you to have direct and meaningful communication with your customers. I've found that a basic understanding of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), the science of how the brain learns, will assist any salesperson to become substantially more effective.

Step 3: Listening! Listen for NLP indicators. Everybody has a basic learning strategy: Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic (feeling). People use each of the three strategies in different learning environments. Yet, most people favor one strategy. Determine your customers preferred strategy by listening to the kind of words they use. Talk with them in their favored terms. As an example, the customer who says things like, "I wonder how this will look on me?" might be a visual. Talk to them in visual terms. Say something like, "Just picture yourself..." This is called direct or matched communication; you are mirroring your customer. Had you said, "Feel this fabric..." You would have had a communication mismatch that would have been less effective in building rapport.

Step 4: Questions! Your anatomy demonstrates quality communication—two ears and one mouth. This formula means you should listen twice as much as you talk. How else are you going to hear the answers to the questions that you hopefully ask? Asking about your customer's needs, wants, and desires along with past purchases will help you to know what product features will benefit them.

It is also just as important for you to mirror your customers’ personality types as their NLP learning strategies. In the traditional Myers-Briggs model, open personalities are relationship and social types. Closed are analytical and dictatorial. Fast paced types are social and dictatorial. Slow paced are relationship and analytical. Decide where you fit in and shift to a new model, the paradigm of understanding. If you are a social type, as many salespeople are, be careful with the analytical. You are open and fast paced, the analytical is the opposite—closed and slow paced. This knowledge, if used correctly will assist you to have more direct communication, dig only one tunnel.

Step 5: Benefits! Most people buy benefits, not features. Beware of being the features jockey, a sales person who can talk their customer into (a one-time) submission. Features are the things that manufacturers built into their products. Benefits are how those things make the customer’s life better. Tune in to your customer's favorite radio station: WIIFM - what's in it for me? This will help you to always turn features into benefits.

Step 6: Buying motives! Buying decisions are made emotionally. Then logic is used to justify the emotion. Be a partner to your customer by helping them to justify their emotional decision to buy.

Listed below are six basic buying motives exhibited by customers. These should cover most situations. Understand how your products and services solve these motives and you can be a successful partner with your customer for life. Different people, in different situations have one or more of the following buying motives. As an example, people generally buy insurance for fear of loss rather than for pride and prestige. Yet, most people buy an expensive luxury automobile for pride and prestige or perhaps comfort and pleasure rather than for their fear of loss.

1. Profits or Gain
2. Fear of Loss
3. Comforts and Pleasure
4. Avoidance of Pain
5. Loving and Affection
6. Pride and Prestige

Step 7: Urgency! Answer objections as if your customer is asking a question because that's what they're doing. Say, "That's a great question, I'm glad you asked." Then go into overcoming their objection by telling how a particular feature creates a benefit for them and makes their life better. My favorite method in answering a prospect’s questions is the feel, felt and found method. Say, "I know how you feel, Mrs. Smith recently felt the same way. She (as an example) wasn't sure the colorful fabric would hold up to the chlorine of a community pool. She went ahead and took a chance. We chatted the other day, and she told me that she found the color did hold up, even better than she had expected. She thanked me for helping her to choose such beautiful swimwear.”

To create urgency, talk about the limited availability or seasonal nature of items. The herd effect is sometimes helpful to get people into action. This is when you talk about haw many have already been sold today, this week, or month. How many times have you gone back to a store to buy something you wanted but didn't buy and it was gone? Don't let this sort of thing happen to your customers. Help them not to be disappointed.

Step 8: Get the money! You cannot be a partner for long unless you turn your prospects into customers. You, and your company, must earn a profit. A number of attendees at my seminars tell me that they came just to learn more closes. That makes me sad. While closing is important, there is so mush more to selling than that. An excellent (soft sell) close is silence, if you have enough nerve to remain quiet. Simply review your offer, ask for the sale, and gently shut your mouth until your prospect speaks. For most people, silence is very uncomfortable. This is the only pressure I'd ever suggest you use. Additional closes that I believe will to help you:

1. Assumption close: Act as if it was natural for all your customers to buy.
2. Act now close: If you snooze, you loose! Buy it today before it's gone.
3. Little decision close: Get them to commit to the style or color rather than to making the purchase.
4. Premium offer close: Buy now and I'll include...
5. Doorknob close: As the customer is leaving the store, or as you are walking out of the prospect’s office, say, "What is the real reason you didn't buy today?" At this point, they feel safe and will answer honestly. Then you say, "Oh, I’m sorry I didn't tell you about… Let me explain..."
6. Ask for it close: The three great words that will change your life, Ask For It. Be bold and fearless of rejection. Always, ask for their business.

The above suggestions are not magic. They are not guaranteed to work all the time. What my ideas will do is help you to sell more of your products and services and to build a meaningful partnering relationship with your customers.

A Zen proverb states, "When the source is deep, the flow is long." Let your source of product knowledge and selling skills be deep and your success be long.

Ed Rigsbee, CSP is the author of PartnerShift, Developing Strategic Alliances and The Art of Partnering. Rigsbee has over 1,000 published articles to his credit and is a regular keynote presenter at corporate and trade association conferences across North America. He can be reached at 800-839-1520 or For a treasure trove of additional information and ideas, visit his Partnering University Web Site at


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