Selling to customers – partnerships and mindsets

By Elisabeth Goodman, 23rd September 2016

I attended the first run through of RiverRhee’s The First Steps in Selling course this week, run by my Associate, John Hicks.  It was fun to be a delegate for a change!

Delegates completing RiverRhee's "The First Steps in Selling" course, September 2016
Delegates completing RiverRhee’s “The First Steps in Selling” course, September 2016

Although the course was geared towards the small Life Science  or Biotech companies that we work with, the key messages apply to any business that is selling its products or services.

A lot is down to creating a sense of partnership with your potential or existing customer, and to the mindset with which you approach the discussion.

John walked us through a very helpful framework to develop and enhance our selling technique. I won’t share the detail of that framework here, but rather some key messages that I took away:

1.  Selling begins once you have a lead with which to begin a discussion

You can only begin to have a discussion with an existing or potential customer if they have expressed an interest in having the conversation.  So all the work involved in market research and other marketing activities will have already taken place.  The good news is that you will not be going into the discussion cold – however, there is still a lot to do before you can actually complete the sale!

Click here for information on RiverRhee's training and support for working with customers
Click here for information on RiverRhee’s training and support for working with customers

2.  Conduct the discussion in a spirit of partnership

The customer has expressed interest in having the discussion with you because they perceive that you might, in some way, be able to help them.  So the discussion should be around exploring the challenge or opportunity that led them to get in touch, and working with them to find a solution.  The spirit of partnership comes from that collaboration to help them with this.

3.  Create a sense of empathy / build rapport

This will help you to truly understand your customer and effectively explore how you might be able to help them.  Empathy and rapport will help you to have an open conversation that gets to the root of their challenge or the opportunity they would like to explore.  It is likely that there are emotional as well as intellectual factors involved in this.  Understanding these will help to make the eventual solution more effective too.  There are lots of great open questions that can help you with this.

4.  Help your customer to develop their knowledge base

Your customer will be in the best position to make an effective decision about the solution that they want to adopt, if they have the necessary knowledge to do so.  You may find that you are the best placed to help them with that knowledge, whether the eventual solution is to go with your product or service or not!  Which brings us to the next key message.

5. Exercise integrity in your interactions

It may well be that your product or service is not the best solution for your (potential) customer’s challenge or opportunity.  They will value your integrity if you are honest about this.  Even if they don’t buy from you this time, you will have earned their trust for potential future sales opportunities.  And of course, if they do buy from you, you will also have set the scene for future positive discussions.

ABOUT THE author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We use training, facilitation, coaching, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  

RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus, a quality assured training provider with Cogent Skills and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals).

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner.  

She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) where she leads on Membership, Communications and Events for the Enabling Change SIG committee.

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