For as long as I can remember I have heard “your customer is always right”. The spirit behind this statement was to make sure market leading organizations do not try to “overcome customer objections” and listen…as failing to listen is the #1 reason buyers do not buy from a salesperson.
However you will receive the best tips to grow your business from prospects who do not buy.
I remember a time, back in the day, when I was serving a plastics company, Alpha Enterprises, which made mechanical security devices to stop consumers from stealing music. The record labels announced they were eliminating the “long box” cardboard package in 12 months and CD’s would now be sold in just the Jewel case (as they are today). The national retailers were concerned. So we designed a perfect security solution to house the CD that complemented the current line of audio and video products we sold them …it fit in the current fixtures, had a area inside the device to house the security tag so consumers could not peal them off, it was quick to remove at the checkout counter, used the same key as our other devices, and we even made some of them out of Lexan so the package was crystal clear so as not to deter from the graphics on the CD package. We were kicking but and taking names. It was my job to present our solutions to the various record chains and mass merchant music retailers and book preorders so we could grow our capacity to meet the market need.
And then I presented our various solutions to a Boarders Books…
We had never sold Boarders before. We did not have a relationship with them, and the buyer politely said…”no thank you…we will pass”. I was taken aback…doesn’t he know how awesome we are? Did I forget to tell him how all the other chains are lining up to buy? I was always taught, back in my Frito-Lay Selling Skills training; the sale starts when the buyer says “no”… so I couldn’t let this one go. As I said we were on a roll…we were at about $38 million in sales and based on preorders alone we were forecasted to surpass $76 million in 12 months. We could have just kept trying to sell people who already knew us…but we wanted to know more about why Boarders did not buy.
So we flew up to Ann Arbor Michigan again and this time had a meeting in which we asked a lot of questions and did not try to sell. The buyer shared they were going to have a large roll out of music in their current and future stores, but they chose to merchandise the music as retailers did in Europe so our current products were not the perfect solution.
We listened to his needs, visited his prototype store and based on his feedback as well as other clients in Europe developed a new line of security packages. The Sentry line quickly grew to include audio, video, video game and DVD. The Sentry line of security products provided a greater gross profit per unit than our current line of security products. We eventually won Boarders business and presented our new line in Europe, and it turned out this was the perfect solution for Libraries.
Prospects who do not buy often give you the key tips to cause your organization to experience “explosive growth”.
- they have no relationship with you, so they share the raw truth
- they are intimately connected to their problems and are looking for solutions to solve them
- current customers have a relationship with you, and therefore don’t feel comfortable telling you your current or “new product baby” is ugly
As you focus on growing your organization make sure and capture customer feedback and more importantly tips from those who do not buy from you.
Over time our current customers also experimented with merchandising like Boarders Books and thankfully we listened to that buyer who did not buy at Boarders. When our key current customers needed as new solution we already had a proven design.
Your best new product solutions and services for current products often come from prospects who do not buy from you.
How about your organization…
Are you capturing customer feedback?
Are you capturing feedback from prospects who do not buy from you?
What are you doing with this information?
Are your salespeople trained to listen when a prospect says no, or are they supposed to “overcome objections”?
Market leaders understand some of the best tips to explode their sales and profits come from prospects who do not buy.