The 3 Reasons Customers Buy

We spend so much time selling; if only we recognized our best sales results did not come from our efforts, rather they come from our customer. We are in the business of creating buyers, not pushing product. Companies hire sales forces, train them with product knowledge, and convince salespeople they are in the business of selling. Selling is an expense line and it is top down thinking. The very best sales people do sell like crazy, but they aren’t selling product, rather they sell the customer the value of their product. We have believed for years that successful selling is something you do to someone.

We need to revise our thinking. Nobody ever came home from a shopping trip and said, “Hey look what somebody sold me!”

We convince ourselves we will be successful if we sell more product. When we begin to care more about the customer than our sale – that transformation begins the winning process. The key to our business success lies in what our customer says and does. We know that. It’s measured not in what they commit to do, rather what they actually do. “To know and not do, is to actually not know”  ~ Thomas Jefferson, made famous by Teddy Roosevelt.

Overwhelming research shows that what our customer is doing is the measure of our success. I’ve known great presenters that couldn’t sell and great salespeople, who couldn’t get a customer to buy from them twice.

What drives our customer and our success is simply the 3 things customers do – 1 ask and 2 tells.

·        Ask us
·        Tell Themselves
·        Tell others

What do they ask us? 

If we see our customer nodding during a presentation is that a buying signal? Of course not. We want it to be, and we may tell someone it is when in fact it’s just a head nodding. If they ask us something, does that mean they’re interested? They may be more interested than if they are simply giving a head nod. However, if the question is “are you almost done?” this is definitely not a buying signal. If our customer asks us a relevant, curious question (not a question just to challenge us) then that may be a buying signal.

Our goal should not be just about ‘closing’ the sale. Rather, the goal should be to get the client thinking. If we do that, we are providing value. Heck, I’d rather a potential customer dialogue and question themselves into a commitment than me doing all the heavy lifting, explaining, cajoling, and directing in order for them to reach my goal. Their questions may shape their interest and possible action.

If our accounts are asking questions of us, and we are dialoging about relevant business issues that tie to our product and the client’s long-term goals or success, then we’re on to something. Are our customers asking us anything, are they worth anything? Are they open and sharing? If not maybe there is a measure of trust that needs to be built. If they ask questions and get involved in the answers, then that is valuable and moving toward action.

We need our product to be their goal not our goal. This is a mind shift, and not easy to accomplish, given all our pressure to increase product results. Press someone and we may achieve, win and accomplish, but we could equally rip up the trust between our account and us. Through our interactions, they tell themselves and others things that become the other 2 key components of this 3-legged stool.

What do they tell themselves?

Do they ask us about our product or our competition? It is important to focus on the key principle of learning. We learn 80% from what we say and only 20% from what we hear! So, in large part what our customers actually speak out loud becomes a megaphone for teaching themselves. Think about those conversations where we are most confident, which are usually the conversations we are having a third or fourth time. We have taught ourselves through speaking.

If your customer is speaking about your product in positive terms then let ‘em go! If they are speaking about your product in negative terms – it’s time to help steer the conversation more towards their goals, needs and desires, and encourage them to focus less on speaking badly about your product. Conversely, if they are talking negatively about your competition then let ‘em go! If they talk positively about your competition, it’s time to shift their talking to focus on their goals, needs and desires. What they say is so much more powerful in teaching themselves, than anything that we can say.

What do they tell others?

Research has shown the top 3 factors for building product loyalty are:

1. The product quality
2. Their relationship with the salesperson
3. That in the category it’s the best product

Also, the #1 reason people are loyal is the relationship with the salesperson. This applies less to buying a house, car, or a pair of jeans, all the circumstances where it’s a commodity, and a one-time purchase. In these cases a relationship is near meaningless. However, in those purchases we make where relationship is equal to product quality and effectiveness, the relationship wins. Think about the products you purchase again and again  – your mechanic, CPA, insurance agent, stockbroker, gardener, favorite restaurant, or hair salon. Are they the world’s best in their field or is their product the world’s best?  These purchases we make every day are measured in Trust. Not just a virtue – rather a real economic fact. Building trust in the selling process is so important to loyalty, and also impacts what our customer says to others.

We convince ourselves our success is from our effort. And that may be true – as it relates to listening, building trust and caring about our customers. When I hear someone say they have a partnership with a certain client, I ask, “Do we know as much about the customer, as we know about how much they buy from us?” Our customers know our product and us because we do all the talking. If our talking moves from 80% of the conversation to 50% of the dialogue – we may be exerting effort in the right areas to build buyers, lasting sales and future success for us both!


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