Let Your Customer Do The Selling

Johnstone Supply regional sale manager Darrell Sterling explains how the very best salespeople know that the most powerful sales presenter isn't you — it's your customer.

The very best salespeople know that the most powerful sales presenter is not you, but your customer.

I'm not talking about a simple referral, or even an introduction. I am talking about your customer selling to another potential customer on your products or services. You're thinking, "Wow, that sounds great, but how exactly do I make that happen?" The answer is pretty straightforward, but the execution of this simple principle is extremely difficult. That is why very few salespeople are able to turn their top customers into powerful allies.

You first need to do business with a well-respected customer in the industry who has a sphere of influence over their peers, or at the least is viewed as highly successful in their profession. You may already be doing business with such a person, but you either have not wowed your customer or you have never leveraged your relationship to expand your business. The key is to prove to this influential customer that your product or service has worked as advertised. If you are able to prove the return on investment that you promised your customer when you sold them on your product/service, you can then earn the right to ask your client to set up a meeting for you. If you have stayed in contact with your customer throughout the process — making sure that what was sold is working for their organization, that the returns that you forecasted are there as promised and are hopefully exceeding expectations — you’re on the right track. A common mistake is promising too much in an effort to just make the sale.

The customer may even realize that you are over-committing, but feels that if they get half the returns you discussed in your initial presentation, that their company will still win. You make the sale, and as you follow up with your client throughout the sales process you may even hear that everything is going well and the customer is happy with the purchasing decision, but the returns simply are not what was expected or promised. You just traded away the potential of multiple deals for a single sale.

You must make sure that what is presented and sold can easily produce the results that the customer is looking for, so that you're able to meet their expectations without any problems. If everything goes as planned, you can pleasantly surprise your customer by surpassing their expectations, thus achieving the much needed wow factor from your customer. You will find that when you excel well beyond your customers’ expectations, you will have an extremely happy customer who is now ready to let their peers know of the wise discussions they made that are saving their company, facility or institution money.

If you achieve this, you are now able to ask your extremely happy customer if they wouldn’t mind setting up a lunch with one of their counterparts in the industry, where the two of you can talk to the potential new customer about your recent success. Your original customer, who is an industry leader, will typically be happy to explain how they orchestrated a deal that is now making them even more successful and how they are experiencing even greater productivity or better ROI. The key, of course, is to let your customer call their contact to set up the meeting — not you.

You customer will presale your service/product on the phone with your new potential client long before you even meet setting the table for a successful meeting.

I used to take pictures of HVAC product installations to show what wonderful work we were able to do and then follow up by presenting the breakdown of how the ROI was ultimately achieved. If your customer has ROI data, it's much better to ask if they wouldn’t mind bringing it to the lunch to review with your preceptive new client. The paradigm that exists in almost all sales processes is to ask questions and let your customer talk. This is doubly important and true if you're having lunch with two customers who know and respect each other. It is wise to let your customer sell for you. After all, they are the one with all the credibility and trust. Your customers can have a greater impact in a short period of time than you can over many appointments. You just need to get out of the way and let them work it out, discussing the pros and cons. The customer can explain in detail why they chose your company and what has worked so well for them.

You just need to be prepared like you were when you made your original presentation with your first customer. You simply slide over documents as your customer is describing how and why they made their decision. If your customer doesn’t need those documents, push them aside and just let them keep going, and of course, quit passing them any more documents. On the other hand, if they use the handouts, follow along and when the next point is made, pass along the next hand out.

If you turn your customers into salespeople, you will close more sales at higher margins while enjoying the sales process. You will enjoy the accolades that will get heaped upon you for doing such a fine job for your original customer. The best part of sales is making people happy and giving them what they both need and want, and this process allows you to enjoy the finer aspects of the sale.

Good luck and happy selling.  

Darrell Sterling is regional sales manager at HVAC distributor Johnstone Supply. He can be contacted at Darrell.Sterling@johnstonesupply.com or 484-441-0335