It’s not always about the money

sales processLast week I began my search for a new tractor to help with the endless maintenance around my house.  I knew that I wanted something bigger than I have, and wanted to stay with the same brand.  I’ve owned 3 over the years of this brand and they’ve always been great.   I had made my decision to buy – now I just had to figure out where.

Understanding precisely what your prospects go through in their buying process can make a big difference in your presentation and the care you’ll take along the way. My example provides some of the real considerations that I make in my buying decision.

Narrowing options in the sales process

I called or visited 6 dealerships within an hour of my house.   I did not include the closest dealership as I felt they didn’t care about my business the last time I went in a few years ago.  Nothing like consistently being greeted with a “Yeah, what do you need?”   Rapport-building at its finest. Dealers should know: It’s not always about the money.

The search quickly narrowed from 6 dealers to 2.  Non-responders knocked out a couple.  Ridiculous pricing a couple more. When I was reading the reviews of these dealerships, I found that the complaints were mostly around issues after the sale.

How people were treated for service issues became the focus of online reviews.  Much like me with my local dealer, some vowed never to buy from a dealership again over a very inexpensive part.

I’ve found this to be true throughout my career.  Cost may have been important upfront, but trust and relationship soon became more important.  For most businesses, the amount of time potential clients spend with you on the sale is very small compared to the time they spend on service issues and enhancements.

I decided on a dealer that wasn’t the cheapest, but that I trusted more.

Here are the lessons for your business:

  • Think about how the customer experience is after the sale.  Your clients spend relatively little time with your Firm in the actual selling process, a whole lot more afterwards.  Do you include your “service” partners in your sales meeting?  Maybe you should…
  • Pricing may be important upfront, but it becomes less important as the relationship and trust builds.
  • Clients have a long memory.  That bad experience for a minor amount of money a few years ago still looms large.  Ever try and get new business when somebody in the buying decision process has had a bad experience with your Firm?  Not going to be easy.
  • Prompt, concise communication is important.  We all know this yet, we take liberties.  What might not be important to you may be very important to them
  • Be transparent.  Engage them in the process.

I’m looking forward to taking delivery of the new tractor shortly.  The dealer took all the pain out of the process for me.

Think about this before you dump your next client onto your service people.  I’ve found that quality may be expensive upfront, but often is cheapest in the end.  The toughest work with clients comes after the sale – selling is often the easiest part. Remember, the greatest source of new business is existing business.