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Customer Centered Selling
Book reviews > Customer Centered Selling
This is the approach used by Xerox, where author Robert Jolles sold and taught for a number of years, and is one of the few books that take selling beyond the stage of 'Here's what I learned in 30 years of selling.' It uses an eight stage process, as below. The dual titles indicate what the customer/sales person is doing at each stage.
Customers at this stage are happy with the products they have.
The sales person uses this period to research the customer:
Questions are deliberately used to determine the context (like SPIN 'Situation' questions) and plant the seeds for later stages.
Identified problems are not highlighted at this stage, as this will only elicit objections.
At this stage, customers acknowledge that they have a problem, but may well not see it as being worth solving. They will happily spend a very long time in this stage.
The sales person seeks to get the person to the next stage by getting them to see the problem as worth solving, by:
Note the close parallels with the SPIN 'Problem' and 'Implication' questions.
Now the customer has decided to solve their problem, but are still nowhere near selecting your product.
The sales person quickly verifies that the customer wants to solve the problem, checks for any other concerns and ensures they are ready to move on.
The customer now decides on the criteria to use to select the final solution.
The sales person guides this process by eliciting the appropriate and prioritizing the needs that are behind the identified problem and which will lead towards the right decision.
The customer here turns the criteria into a coherent measure of what will constitute success. In particular, they are asking, 'What will it take to fix the problem?'
The sales person guides the transferring of the identified needs/criteria into a clear specification, and ensures the customer is committed to it.
The customer now goes looking for a product to meet the specification they (and hopefully the sales person).
The sales person checks that if they can meet the specification then the customer will give them the sale ('If I..would you...' trial close). After dealing with any objections, the target solution is presented, using the FABEC sequence:
The customer now makes the final selection of the product to meet their specification and criteria and hence solve their problems.
The sales person summarizes benefits (Summary Close), asks for the sale (using their favorite close), discusses any logistics detail and reassures the customer that they have made a good decision.
The customer now takes delivery, uses the product and eventually comes around to buying a replacement.
The sales person should keep an eye on the whole delivery, setup and training to ensure that the customer stays satisfied in those crucial early days. It also helps to check that the solution really did solve the customer's problem. And staying in touch on an ongoing basis enables you to spot any future opportunities.
Overall, this book is a particularly good reference for sales people who sell over a number of visits to customers, and where repeat selling is important. This is unsurprising, given Jolles' background of selling for Xerox, where he was selling directly to other businesses and corporations.
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