At some point in the customer's journey, they will make the decision either to buy or move on. They have gathered the information, weighed it against their particular needs, debated the affordability and return on investment, considered the alternatives and ‘click’ have decided to buy. That decision point can be hard to notice – there is seldom a sign or flashing light to clue you in. The challenge is to know that a decision has been made. Once the decision is made, it is important to change behaviour. As a young sales rep I vividly recall a company president telling me to “Stop selling Dammit – you’ve got the deal Andrew!” I’d missed the cues and that incident forced me to reset and think about what to do next. I realized that as a sales person, when the customer had decided, I needed to change from 'helping the customer buy' to 'helping the customer take ownership'.
The customer decision point marks a major shift in the customer journey. They have moved from ‘why’ and ‘if’ to ‘how’ and ‘when’. How your reseller acts from this point on can support or kill the deal. Resellers who miss this decision to buy risk leading the client on an unnecessary journey which could confuse them, and cause doubt and second thoughts. In many cases, the journey to the decision point has been difficult for them and they really just want to move to the finish line as soon as possible.
Everybody hates ‘pushy’ sales people, and in the client’s mind, sales people that continue to sell after the deal is done come across as very pushy. At the other end of the spectrum, the sales person who does not continue to follow through to helping the customer take ownership (Hey, the deal is done, you can pay over there - I’m outta here…) can lose the sale or, at the very least, leave a bad taste. Both of these can be observed during joint sales activities and will usually show up in customer satisfaction surveys.
Typically, a lack of ‘customer journey’ thinking is the root cause. There’s an old sales story about nobody actually wants a ½” drill bit – they just want a ½” hole. Too many sales people think their role is to simply close the deal when in fact their role is (or should be) to help the client achieve their objective. The customer decision to buy, is a milestone, not the destination.
You need to make sure your resellers have a well thought out customer journey for your specific products or services. That journey ends with the customer achieving their objective – a ½” hole if you will. The reseller must own the customer journey and guide the customer through the appropriate steps but it must be a well designed and defined process – not ad-hoc. For example, in a large ticket retail environment:Compliment the customer on making a good decision. “ You are smart to chose this model”Explain the process: “While we handle the paperwork, I am going to have our service manager prepare the unit for you right now. It will take about 15 minutes.”Will you be taking it with you, or shall we deliver it?As you know, training comes with this model, what time next week would be best for you?Let me give you our support manager’s business card. If you have any questions, please do call her 24 hours a day.This model does come with a number of accessories that you may, at some point in the future, find useful – here is a brochure on them.May I have your credit card please?
Knowing when to change gears will allow your resellers to help their customers more efficiently and reduce any propensity for ‘overselling’ that could damage the relationship and, ultimately, the sale. It will ensure that the next stages in your customers’ journeys are managed properly and efficiently. It will leave the customers with a positive sense of being looked after and thus much more likely to return, and to recommend you and your reseller to others.
Decision Point is the seventh in a series of posts on improving sales channel efficiency and flow. It follows Negotiation