Successful Selling Is A Friendship… With Benefits

Chances are that marketing has already made the buyer attracted to the possibility of a friendship. What she now wants to know is, What benefits accrue with the friendship?

It’s not about your product. It’s never about your product. And just so we are clear, it’s never been about your product. It may seem that way, especially when the ‘phone is ringing off the hook with customers demanding the product or service, but be not deceived-it’s not about the product. As with all matters relationship, nothing is to be taken at par value. There’s a deeper meaning, and that deeper meaning is what is verbalized as “I want your product”; and that deeper meaning is what that product does. For. Me. This is what is called benefits. And your ‘demanded’ product is a friend, with benefits. Remove the benefits and out goes the flavour, and therefore, the friendship (product).

For as long as the benefits are present, and they serve the buyer’s changing needs, then the friendship will continue. It sounds selfish, and yes it is. And the faster you unearth that selfish reason for buying, the faster you will sustainably sell that product or service. The sooner you equate that benefit to the buyer’s needs, the higher the chances of holding his attention. The newspaper headline is a glaring example of this. The headline of the Daily Nation is not the same across the country. It is skewed to suit the preferences of the readers of a locale. For instance, the reporting of the same political event will have the targeted areas preferred representative, featured more prominently on the headline for the copies circulated in his area. Forget that the story is the same; focusing the headline (selling) to the desires of the reader (buyer) works like magic for the sales of the newspaper.

Therefore, instead of harping on to the embassy about the fully furnished apartments it seeks for its staff, talk about how they are strategically placed for a quick evacuation (benefits) during, say, a terrorist attack. If this is what is sought, suddenly the tastefulness of the fully furnished apartment is ‘seen’ and appreciated. Now that the benefits are in place, the friendship suddenly makes sense. Should anything change to affect the benefits, say, the status of the embassy is downgraded and essential personnel (expatriates) are relocated, the enticement (benefit) of evacuation is lost on the buyer and the friendship (product) suddenly isn’t quite as exciting. You therefore, seek another benefit to keep the friendship going.

Change is the only constant, is not a cliché in this instance. It’s Holy Grail. An underwriter (one who writes the policy document-contract- for an insurance company) once told me that he was shocked to hear how ‘his product’ (that’s how he referred to the contract) was being described (sold). He heard four different versions none of which sounded like the product. And that’s the essence of progressive sellers. They don’t dwell on the ‘friendship’, they know buyers are spoilt for choice there; instead progressive sellers dwell on what will make the friendship different-the benefits. And this means changing the presentation to suit the buyer’s needs. For instance, a life insurance or medical insurance cover will make sense to a businessman when you talk about protecting his business from going under because of debt arising from medical bills or death; chances are that the father in him will not be moved by the benefits of ‘in the event of your demise, your family will suffer’ without you to provide. On the other hand, a businesswoman may think first as a mother (especially if she’s single) and then as a businesswoman. In her case, the benefit of her children being shielded from the pain of financial strain seals the friendship more than her business being protected. Meantime, the average salesperson will be beating the drum of how we are stable, 50 years old and here to stay; that your money is safe with us and this is an investment with returns every five years. Chances are that marketing has already done that and the buyer is aware of this; she’s already attracted to the possibility of a friendship. What she now wants to know is, What benefits accrue with the friendship?

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