Empowering Customers: It Works

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Empowering Customers

A couple, Dan and Deborah, walk into a car dealership and, after looking for some models, they sit down with the sales person who is eager to sell them on all sorts of features, most of which they don’t really want.  When he finally comes up for air, after his long sales pitch, he gets down to the details. “Okay, you want the Grey Acura, tinted windows, Bluetooth sound system, and heated steering wheel.  You’re putting down $3,000, have 30 months to pay off the balance, and it’s all in the Dan’s name.  Are we ready to sign the papers?”

“Yes, except there are some corrections,” says Dan. “It’s supposed to be Silver, no tinted windows, no Bluetooth sound system, heated seats not steering wheel, a $5,000 deposit, the check is in the papers in front of you, 60 months to pay off the balance and the car is in my wife’s name, not mine.”

To which the salesman responded, “it was an Acura right?”

This is not how you want the sales transaction to go, which is why I talk with my salespeople about their interactions with customers.  I want them to stop selling and not only listen closely to customers but to empower them to be part of the process. Customers want to know that they have been heard and recognized. I want my team to be able to articulate what the customer wants, but unlike the example above, get it right because they’re working with the customer, not just selling to the customer.

Something called Transformative Mediation

This is a term for a type of conflict intervention that uses the principles of empowerment and recognition. It helps people in conflict change how they interact with each other.

After reading about it, I realized that this same approach could also work in sales, especially with something like window replacements, where there are a number of factors involved. If the customer is empowered to be part of the decision process; they will have input, feel that they are being recognized and end up with replacement windows that meet their needs. We make a sale and the customers are satisfied. That’s a win-win.

How often have you made a major purchase and walked away thinking, “that’s not exactly what I wanted,” or “I got talked into something?” Meanwhile, they have your money. Customers who are part of the process not only feel that they have input, but are typically much more satisfied with their purchases. I like it when a customer returns and says something like, “we need to get new windows for the upstairs bedroom, let’s see what we can come up with.”

Yes, we have the expertise in window replacements, but the customers know what they want and need. Therefore, it’s transformative, because we’re helping them make a change. It’s also like mediation, because we’re working together to find the solution.

When salespeople, who are selling what they believe you need and not empowering you to be part of the process, tell you, “don’t worry, we’ll take care of everything,” it’s time to start worrying.

Joe Kelemer

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