From Problem Solver to Business Partner – The customer need that never goes away.

George’s client’s building had a spacious lobby area, its furniture arranged into several conversation pits. As he had promised, George arrived early and staked out a spot for them to meet. It was a perfect setting for their pre-call meeting.

After a little Act 2 relationship-building talk, Tony got straight to business. “What’s your Commitment Objective for the call, and how would you like us to help?” he asked George.

“I want them to agree to sign up for our loyalty program, TechShare,” George answered. “The ultimate decision maker and two key influencers will be in our meeting.”

He turned to Mike. “I’ve already talked to Tony about these clients. I really want to lock them up on this. I’m glad you’re able to come along on the call, Mike, because TechShare is your baby, and your presence will demonstrate that we take their business seriously.

“As for you, Tony,” George continued, “I told them that you’re our No. 1 guru on implementing TechShare. I’d like you to help me present it to them. I want us to tag-team them on Acts 5 and 6—Sell the Company and Sell the Product—so that we walk out of there with a committed, loyal customer. As for how we’ll do it, exactly,
that’s why I wanted this pre-meeting.”

George seems bright, capable, and professional, Mike thought, and he talks in Action Selling terms just like Tony does. Come on, Tony, show me what you know but solid reps like George don’t. Save my job, buddy. Help me resurrect TechShare.

Tony leaned forward in his chair to answer George. “Wait, back up,” he said. “I want to question your basic premise. You’re saying we’ll turn these clients into loyal customers if we can sell them TechShare—because it’s our loyalty program. I’d say that’s backwards. First you have to sell them loyalty. Then maybe you can sell them our loyalty program.”

‘First you have to sell them loyalty. Then maybe you can sell them our loyalty program.’

George looked blank. He glanced at Mike, but got no help. “What do you mean?” he asked.

Tony smiled at him. “You and the other reps in the office have asked me how I sell so many TechShare programs. But I could never articulate my so-called secret until Mike started to prod me about the relationship between loyalty programs and loyal customers. Now I’m getting a better handle on it.”

“George, the fact that I sell a lot of TechShare programs is almost incidental. It’s like a symptom, not a cause. My customers don’t become loyal because I’m good at selling a loyalty program. They buy TechShare because I’m good at selling loyalty.”

George flicked his eyes nervously to Mike again. Don’t embarrass me in front of a vice president, Tony, he thought. What are you talking about?

“Don’t worry, you know this already,” Tony assured him. “You just don’t know you know it. This is what the Five Buying Decisions are all about if you simply take them to their logical conclusion. In any sales situation, the first thing the customer must decide to buy is the salesperson, right? Well, on a pedestrian level, that means clients are satisfied with you—maybe even pleased. But on what Mike calls the master’s level, it means your customers become loyal. They trust you. They see you as a valuable asset. They’d much rather deal with you. In fact, they stop shopping.”

Tony was getting onto a roll. “How strongly do you believe that if you want to sell a product, you first have to sell yourself, then sell your company…?”

Duane Sparks

About Duane Sparks

Duane Sparks is founder and chairman of The Sales Board, the authoritative source of practical and leading-edge information about the art and science of selling. He has created Action Selling sales training products and learning systems that transform sales organizations. Duane is author of these best-selling books: Action Selling, Selling Your Price, Questions (the Answer to Sales), Masters of Loyalty (How to turn your sales force into a loyalty force), and Sales Strategy from the Inside Out (How complex selling really works).

Discover how the best sales training process can make spectacular improvements in sales skills. Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You are One).