I was reading an article in the Harvard Business Review, which said that according to a survey on Customer Loyalty, by far the biggest driver (53%) was “the sales experience.” Now, I’m no marketing guru, but to me this is just common sense. If you have a pleasant and rewarding experience, why wouldn’t you want to remain a customer of that company?
As negotiators, many times we focus on closing the deal, and reaching an agreement with our customers within bounds of what we deem fair and profitable for both parties. But isn’t it also true that through this process we can exchange information in a way that is conducive to growing the relationship and the experience?
One example is that many sales people get defensive or feel targeted when customers question the data they provide. They sense they are being pushed into a corner by buyers telling them things like, “I can get the same thing cheaper;” when in reality it’s an opportunity to change the negotiation conversation, from the price of their products/services to the value of the solutions they provide.
Even when customers don’t actually know what they need, it is on us to provide information and to be proactive in signaling during the process. Being prepared to address the tough tactics buyers use during negotiations allow us to deliver on that sales experience driver, as well as lead into bigger, better, and faster deals.
If you'd like to read the Harvard Business Review article that spurs these thoughts, go to http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/10/the_single_worst_question_a_sa.html