You’re in sales and you sell the customer something based on a set of expectations they develop from what they have heard from you.
You deliver — or you say you deliver — and the customer doesn’t like what they get.
To them the thing they bought is not living up to the expectations they had been led to believe.
We’re watching the rollout of the on-line enrollment process for the Affordable Care Act (also commonly referred to as Obamacare), and we are seeing what I described above.
The “customers” (American citizens) were led to believe this process would flow smoothly and be easy to understand.
The reality, though, is the on-line system for the Affordable Care Act has been a bit of a train wreck (that may be putting it mildly).
What can we learn from it? Here’s my take:
First off we have to make sure the customer’s expectations match what can be delivered. It’s not about what we think the product/experience can or can’t do. It’s what the customer expects it to do.
This means in our sales process we have to be dialoguing with the customer, not merely talking at them. If all we’re doing is telling them, we have zero idea as to their level of acceptance.
Second, although we may be in sales, we do have to understand what we’re selling. It’s about creating confidence with the customer. The customer will be far more willing to accept what we have to say and believe what we’re saying if they have confidence in us. Confidence equals perception.
Third, we have to own the sales process. Sales leadership is about owning the process. This means being in charge in the eyes of the customer.
Deferring problems to others in an organization doesn’t do any good with regard to creating confidence. I’m not saying you the salesperson have to be making all the decisions and doing all the work.
What I’m saying is you do need to take responsibility for the outcomes. In so doing, you will be delivering communication to the customer along the way.
How do you measure up with these three?
Remember, sales is leadership and leadership is sales.