Lauren Harper posed an interesting question at Focus.com: “As a sales rep, how do you ensure your clients don’t get buyer’s remorse?” It struck me as a key issue sales professionals overlook.
Think about it, during the sales process, we put on our best face, focusing on the customer, their needs, trying to create value, aligning with their buying process, helping them solve their problem. Success, we get the order, we thank the customer, then we’re off to the next thing, another deal, another order. After all, we achieved our goal, an order!
That’s where we go wrong, that’s where our real motivations are shown and we betray the customer. During the customer buying process, we are focused on solving their problem, we are absolutely aligned with the customer. Once we get the order, our job isn’t over–because the customer’s job isn’t over. They still haven’t solved their problem. They have just made a decision about the solution, but they still have to solve their problem. If we abandon them, or change how we are engaging them, after we get the order–the customer recognizes that.
The customer realizes that we weren’t really trying to help them solve their problem, that we only were interested in the order. They begin to wonder, rightfully so, they may have made the wrong decision.
It’s important to realize that we sold a solution to the customer’s problem—so the sale isn’t over until the customer has solved their problem! If the sales person disappears after receiving the order, then the customer has right to be remorseful even angry. If it’s a customer we want to be able to sell to again, then we’ve made our job more difficult–as much as we claim we are customer focused, that we want to help them solve their problem, their past experience shows them what we really care about is the order, the rest is just positioning to get the order.
The sales process doesn’t stop until the customer solves their problem and achieves the goals they had hoped to achieve. As sales professionals, it’s our job to start setting the expectations of what will be done during the sales process, whether it’s an implementation plan, introducing the customer to the people that will be supporting them after the order, or something else. Immediately after the order (and thanking the customer for it), the sales person has to lay out the next steps and set the expectations. The role of the sales person may diminish, but it’s never over. Afterall, it’s the sales person that the customer has the principal relationship with.
The sales person should always follow up through the implementation process, and even after it’s completed. Is the customer achieving what they expected? Do we need to do something else? Are they satisfied? Do we need to take any corrective action?
If we position ourselves as selling solutions, if the customer is buying because we have committed to solve their problem, then the selling process does not end with the order. It only ends when the customer has achieved their goals. Even then, it doesn’t stop–if we have helped them achieve success, we will want to explore what’s next. They will be enthusiastic in doing this if we have worked with them in the implementation.