If you still believe that customers do deals with you because you are logically their best option, you are stuck in an old and inaccurate marketing model. The idea that rational thought is the prime motivator of consumer behavior was proven wrong in the mid 1990’s. People buy on emotion, not logic. This is actually a great advantage to small businesses. Why? For the most part, smaller businesses can easily do a much better job of knowing their customers and the emotional triggers their customers have at any given time. And once those emotions are known, smaller businesses can usually be more nimble and flexible in designing offerings to meet their customer needs.
There are two parts to any offer you make to a potential customer. One part is what the offer will do for that customer, how it will transform the customer. The second part is the delivery mechanism, or how the offer works. Transformational selling means that a business focuses their advertising copy on what the transaction does for the customer. This may sound like nothing new, but in fact I often see advertising copy, especially in financial institutions, that focus on numbers and logic. Focusing on the deal itself (how the numbers will work) means that you are focusing on the delivery mechanism. You are stuck with an outdated, ineffective sales model that won’t work for you as well as transformational selling.
Here’s an example – let’s say that a young couple wants to add a large outdoor patio and fire pit to their home. A hardscape expert has designed a perfect outdoor area for their yard, and the budget is $15,000. The couple is willing to take on debt to get what they want, so they are shopping for money. You would like to do the deal. What can you do to make that happen?
· Have an active customer and community relationship management system in place. If you’re good, you will work this in two ways. If the young couple is already in a business relationship with you, you will have achieved top of mind awareness that is so entrenched that they won’t even think of looking elsewhere, and you will also know that the couple has wanted this new patio area for a while. If the couple isn’t an existing customer, your community outreach program will be strong enough to encourage their looking at you even though you are not their current financial institution. And again, if you really know the people in your community, you will have heard that the couple wants a new patio for their home. Either way, your relationship building strategies have worked in that they’ve given you a shot at doing this deal.
· Craft your offer based on transformational selling. This means that your advertising copy and sales conversation focuses heavily on what a new patio area will do for the couple. Use emotional triggers rather than logic, and focus first and foremost on what the patio means to the couple. The delivery mechanism is secondary. Focus on how the patio area transforms the couple’s home, what the outcome of adding to their home will give them, the feelings that will come into play. Perhaps the couple wants the area to entertain. Perhaps they want it because they envision children playing out there in the near future. Your job is to know the emotional triggers and address them in copy and conversation. Help the couple to voice the vision that is in their mind, the unspoken emotions. What will it cost them if they decide not to build the patio area? Show the couple that you get and care about what this will do for them, how it will transform them.
· Make sure that your transformational sales conversations are genuine – meaning that you are genuinely interested in this couple and want an ongoing relationship with them, whether they do business with you this time or not. Transformational selling requires true and ongoing customer relationship. Otherwise, it will sound insincere and manipulative and will most certainly drive the couple away.
· Only after having the transformational conversation do you turn your attention to the delivery mechanism. Your delivery mechanism (amount of loan, interest rate, length of term) has to be competitive, but it does not have to be the very cheapest deal around. Remember that transformational selling is based on relationship. Customers who feel understood will decide based on relationship as well as the bottom line. If you have done your job well, your customer will do the deal and tell their friends, “We paid just a little more but we felt understood and know we will be taken care of if any problems come up.” That word of mouth will help you in subtle but powerful ways with other potential customers, too.
Use transformational selling to build collaboration and great word-of-mouth as well as media. A great customer relationship system will continue to strengthen the bond with this couple long after the deal is done. What if, for instance, you followed the patio’s progress and when it neared completion you showed up with a new plant, a cooler on wheels, or a bottle of wine? Want even more play? Get a relationship going with the hardscape installer, and the two of you go in together to sponsor the first patio party for the couple. Got a photographer as a bank customer? Call him into the mix, too. Not only will the couple never forget their first party (giving you great word-of-mouth for years to come) but you have given the photographer a little business, built stronger relationship with the installer who might recommend you to others needing money for similar projects, and you can easily get local press – a picture in the paper with a mention of the three businesses who made this couple so happy.
Transformational selling is a win all the way around. It is heartfelt as well as good business strategy, and it helps build and keep customer relationships strong. Add it into your sales strategies and watch what it does for your bottom line.
© Sue Painter