Where Loyalty is Born – Consistency turns a sales maker into a Loyalty Generator.

They settled into a quiet booth toward the rear of the restaurant and began to peruse the lunch menu. But Tony was more concerned with Mike’s ominous silence.

“Look, Mike, that came out wrong,” he said. No kidding, he thought, kicking himself. You’re the big boss who brought Action Selling into the company, so I imply that you don’t understand it. Maybe I can spill my soup on you, too, and then just resign. “I didn’t mean to…”

Mike waved off the apology. “No, Tony, I’m not offended.” (All right, maybe a little, he thought.) “I’m just thinking. There’s got to be an important clue in what you said: ‘How can I think that loyalty is about the TechShare program?’ You’ve sold more programs than anyone else – a lot more – but when you sell TechShare, you’re not selling loyalty? What do you mean?”

I’m not sure, Tony thought, groping for words. “Well,” he said finally, “I guess I mean that the TechShare program is essentially a product. It’s packaged with a name and features and benefits, like any product. Loyalty is different, isn’t it? I mean, customers have to be loyal before they’ll buy a loyalty program, don’t they?”

‘Customers have to be loyal before they’ll buy a loyalty program.’

That’s clear as mud, he thought. Then inspiration came. “OK, look,” he said, with more confidence. “Action Selling is all about differentiation, right? It’s a system that tells us how to be different and better, in a tangible way, from the competition, even when the competition’s products – or loyalty programs – may be virtually the same as ours. Action Selling tells us how to show the customer that we’re offering unique solutions instead of commodities. It tells us how to communicate differently, so that we stop being order-takers and start to act like consultants or business partners. What matters isn’t what we sell but how we sell, right?”

“Right,” Mike said, thinking: You see it as a consultant’s communication system, not just a way to make sales? I’m not sure I ever thought of it that way.

“Well,” Tony continued, “if customers see us as a unique and valuable solution, and they’d prefer to buy from us rather than someone else, that’s just another way to say they’re loyal to us, isn’t it? I mean, TechShare is a package – a product – that has to be differentiated like any other product. But loyalty doesn’t come from the loyalty program. It comes from the perception of a valuable difference in the sales relationship. Doesn’t it?”

‘Loyalty comes from the perception of a valuable difference in the sales relationship.’

Mike thought it over. As much to himself as to Tony, he said, “If you differentiate once, you make a sale. If you differentiate the sales relationship, you make a loyal customer.”

“Well…yeah,” Tony said. “But now I’m confused again. Action Selling isn’t something you use once with a new customer to get an order. It’s a discipline you practice consistently, on every sales call. Consistency is what turns Action Selling into a kind of perpetual-motion machine that generates loyalty. Don’t all of our reps know that…?”

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).