Lew Bader, Former SVP, North American Customer Service from Pearson, discusses the key steps to successfully sell to a senior Customer Service executive.
What are some dos and don’ts for selling to a Senior Customer Care Executive?
- Do understand that my time is valuable. Help me understand quickly why your product is valuable. How will it improve my life?
- Do try to talk to the people on the floor. Understand their pain points. How would their lives improve if we adopted your product? Understand that they know more than I do and certainly more than you do.
- Do respect your competition. Understand that they have a good product too. Bad mouthing them will get you nowhere.
- Do expect me to say no. An experienced salesperson understands that they will get more rejections than acceptances. If you get rejected, ask for a follow-up in six months and hit that mark. Give people a chance to fail with your competitor. Continue to cultivate the relationship. I had one salesperson that spent six years developing a relationship with me. Eventually, he got the sale and we have been a client for fifteen years now. His competitor is gone.
- Do be prepared to tell me that your product is not right for my situation. I will respect that more than you selling me the wrong product. If you’re honest with me, I will recommend you to others who may have a need that your product can fulfill.
- Don’t assume that you know my business better than me. Listen and observe. Find a way to help me…not sell me.
What information do you find most valuable in the purchasing process?
Seeing the product in action at a client site that is similar to mine. Learning what problems they had and how they overcame them.
If this is for software configuration, I want to know exactly who will work on the project and their experience. There’s nothing worse than buying the right product and having the wrong resources to deliver it.
How important are testimonials, analysts, etc. in your decision making process?
On a scale of 1 – 10, about a 3. Usually only the good ones make it through. Human nature alone prevents people from posting negatives and certainly the vendor won’t. Though I do have to admit, on a personal level, when I buy products on Amazon I always read the reviews before making a decision.
“An experienced salesperson understands that they will get more rejections than acceptances.”
Can you share a particular story when you had a positive or negative buying process?
Positive – A large provider bent over backwards to make sure that everything went smoothly in our transition. The salespeople were always engaged throughout the process.
Negative – With a systems integrator it was exactly the opposite. The people who sold us were nowhere to be found during the integration. The software configuration team had no experience and failed miserably. We never got to speak to the salespeople or the top brass at the company again.
Who are the key constituents when looking to make a purchase? And who is part of the buying process?
I involve the department head and the finance organization. I inform business unit constituents to make sure they understand what we will be doing, but I never ask permission.
How do you decide if a product is worth purchasing? How do you validate the need?
I have a whole process that I developed to build and validate a business case. I generally discount benefits by 20% just to stay conservative. If I can get a 3-year payback it’s a go for me.