Ala! Na si ungesama?” (Why didn’t you say so?) I thought your distributorship only sold beer. You’ve never said you sell wines and spirits too. That’s why we bought from your competitor. We would have really preferred dealing with you as we know you for years. Anyway, now that we know, when the contract expires in a year, we shall renew it with you.” Are you pitching miraa but your customer is hearing muguka? Could this discrepancy be losing you sales? You see, your customer’s perception is your reality.

The difference between miraa and muguka

Miraa and muguka, both varieties of khat, are at the center of a significant debate in Kenya. Miraa, traditionally grown in Meru County, has been a major cash crop for decades. Muguka, on the other hand, is grown primarily in Embu and Mbeere regions and has gained popularity due to its higher potency and lower cost. You can Google more differences. For us, could such confusion be manifesting for your product or service?  And what can you do to merge it?

To merge the customer’s perception with your reality, align your reality to his perception. How? Tell him what he needs to hear. The problem comes when you pitch in standard manner, instead of adapting to the customer. Your phone can mean different things to different customers, for instance. If taking selfies and photos in general is what I’m keen on, then focus your pitch on the camera and filters feature. If it’s aesthetics, then look and feel becomes the pitch.

Aligning perception with reality

If I see you as muguka and you are miraa, then pitch potency and cost, if that’s what the customer needs. In the process of engagement, if the customer laments the potency, then, voila!, “We have this other product or service…” or “Actually, the murders that happened at the short term stay rental were not an Airbnbs; we are just victims of our brand success just as all ride hailing cabs, are perceived as Ubers. Let me explain…” In essence, let the revelation grow organically from the customer engagement, as you align their perception to your reality.

Read: How to sell in a crisis: a step-by-step guide. The case of Airbnb.

Steps of aligning your ‘muguka’ to ‘miraa’

Salespeople often overlook the critical importance of customer perception. This is a mistake, as perception is reality in the eyes of the customer. To overcome this challenge let’s unpack (decode) what the scenario shared yields.  

  1. First, you need to have intimate knowledge of your product offering.  Product knowledge alone is not enough to clinch you that sale
  2. Active Listening: Pay attention to what the customer is saying and what they aren’t saying. Their words, body language, and tone can give you clues about their true needs and perceptions.  
  3. Educate the customer to move them from where they are to where you need them to be
  4. Tailored Messaging: Adapt your sales pitch to highlight the aspects of your product that align with the customer’s priorities. Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach.
  5. Address Misconceptions: If a customer has a misconception about your product, address it gently and provide clear, factual information to correct it.
  6. Engage in Dialogue: Instead of a monologue, engage the customer in a conversation. Ask questions to understand their needs better and offer solutions that fit their perceptions.

Customer’s perception is your reality. The path to successful alignment

In conclusion, to successfully align the customer’s perception with your reality, you must adapt your reality to their perception. By understanding and responding to each customer’s unique needs and expectations, you can create a compelling and relevant sales experience. Remember, every customer interaction is an opportunity to build a positive perception of your product or service. So, what steps are you taking today to ensure your sales pitch resonates with your customer’s unique perceptions?


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