Adopting a customer-first sales approach is recommended for today’s sellers because it aligns with what modern buyers want. But reps may not be completely clear on aspects of the strategy. Sales professional Denyse Drummond-Dunn, writing for Customer Think, shares that she often gets questions, writing, “As a customer-first strategist, I am frequently asked about customer centricity and the value it brings to a business when adopted." Drummond-Dunn offers the basics, and deeper insights, into this strategy, in her article to answer the topic’s biggest questions.
What is a customer-first sales approach?
In this strategy, the customer is front and center, and their satisfaction and needs are the focus. While sellers may think it means “the customer is always right,” that’s not quite true. Instead, it prioritizes what is best for customers rather than catering to their every whim. As AllNewBusiness.com explains, “The customer is always right is a popular business phrase that suggests that the customer is always correct and that their opinion should be valued above all else. Putting customers first takes a more holistic approach. Where businesses focus on meeting the needs of the customer before their own.”
Why is it important?
Sellers may wonder why they should consider this approach, as traditionally, sellers have put their own solutions and offerings front and center. The biggest value of the customer-first sales approach is the relationships it nurtures. Buyers today don’t want an impersonal experience that is purely transactional. They want to be heard and feel valued by business partners.
One-third of buyers agree with the statement, “I am willing to pay a premium to buy from companies that provide a superior customer experience,” according to SalesFuel’s Voice of the Buyer study. Additionally, more than half want to work with a vendor who “cares” about them and their business.
By employing this strategy, sellers demonstrate these in-demand behaviors because they are prioritizing the customer and their needs. This drives customer satisfaction because buyers feel heard, understood and valued. Specifically, Drummon-Dunn points out the following benefits:
- Improved customer satisfaction and loyalty
- Increased customer retention
- Enhanced brand reputation
- Improved customer acquisition
- Higher revenue and profits
How can you implement this strategy?
There are actions sellers can take, both big and small, to implement a customer-first sales approach. First, they need to be clear about their ideal customer. To learn more about buyer personas, and why they’re important, read this article. Once you understand who your core customer should be, the more you understand how best to serve them.
Sellers can make an immediate impact by hyper-personalizing the experience for each and every customer. This includes being aware of and then adapting to the customer’s preferences, from their preferred communication methods to decision-making style. For guidance on how to use an adaptive method to offer a personalized experience for each client, check out SalesFuel’s advice here.
Prioritizing feedback is another way sellers can demonstrate a customer-first approach. As AllNewBusiness explains, “One of the most important ways to put the customer first is to listen to their feedback … using it to improve the business. This not only shows that the company cares about what the customer has to say, but it also shows a willingness to change to better serve its clientele.” This should also include monitoring social channels and other types of feedback; the more awareness there is about customers’ current satisfaction, the more you can stay aligned with what they want.
Successfully doing this does involve being an effective listener. If you feel that your listening skills could use some improvement, SalesFuel’s advice on “hearing” clients can help.
As Fabrizio Battaglia, writing for Global Training Partners, explains, “You must think beyond focusing solely or primarily on your own success — that is, on selling your own products and/or services. Today it is essential to truly focus on how you can best contribute to helping your customers achieve success.”
Now that you have the answers to the most common questions about the customer-first sales approach, you’re equipped with the knowledge to implement this strategy and boost your own customers’ experiences.
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