Here are the five characteristics of salespeople that customers ranked in order of importance in a recent survey:
1. Integrity: 96% of customers say that the No. 1 thing they look for in salespeople is integrity. People want to do business with those whom they trust.
2. Empathy: This is a salesperson’s ability to view life from the customer’s point of view. There isn’t a problem that aggressiveness will get you into that an equally strong measure of empathy won’t keep you out of.
3. Initiative. This is the habit of being proactive. It’s everything you do without someone telling you that you must do it.
4. Knowledge: Customers report that what they want most in a solution is to deal with salespeople who are knowledgeable. If knowledge is power, then what you don’t know holds great power over you.
5. Courage: This is not the absence of fear – it’s the management of fear. Value-added salespeople feel the fear and do what they know they m ust do to overcome it.
Value and price
Value added salespeople are skilled at directing the conversation towards value, not price. They uncover the customer’s need, analyze the costs associated with that need, and translate features of the product into what it will do for the customer.
Two dimensions of value
Some salespeople assume that all their customers are interested in the same type of relationship. But there are two dimensions of what customers value:
1. Need for relationship. Customers with a high need for relationship place high value on the salesperson’s ability to understand them, their needs, strategy and challenges and their future plans. Buyers who are less experienced with the product they are buying will place a high value on this type of relationship.
2. Need for information. Salespeople who are able to provide easy access to information save their customers time and effort and make it easier to do business with them. These customers are usually sophisticated and sometimes know more about the products and services being offered than the salespeople themselves.
Customer interaction preferences
The first step in value added selling is to understand clearly what your customers value. Each customer has his or her own perspective on value, usually falling into one of the following categories:
1. The transactional buy. Customers here have low needs for a relationship and low needs for information. They just want the right product at the right time at the lowest price.
2. The relationship buy. Customers have high needs for a relationship. They need salespeople who have an in-depth understanding of their situation.
3. The information buy – customers have a high need for information and a low need for a relationship. They know what they want, and want to be informed and educated.
4. The partnership buy. Customers have a high relationship need and a high information need. They want a salesperson who understands their company and their needs.