Selling directly to buyers is a standard business practice that is being transformed into a more collaborative sales process.
Progressive businesses are now working together with customers to create shared experiences by co-creating solutions with buyers to give them what is often greater or more exciting than they would have imagined.
Buyers do not always know the extent of your business capabilities, just as your business may not fully understand their aspirations. Therefore, bringing the two together can often create extraordinary results.
Thus, in addition to ensuring the future relevancy of your business, learning to build collaboration into your sales, marketing, and customer service processes will easily differentiate your business, even in crowded markets.
Here are three customer collaboration practices to consider.
#1 – Take Control and Share It
Buyers want to work with a business that is control, which is one of the primary objectives of your sales process.
Your process gives them confidence that you will take them where they want to go, and if it is collaborative, they can then share that control. It’s truly a beautiful thing.
While most people will not admit it, they want to follow leaders. That’s why they hired you.
They are relying on your expertise and experience.
If at some point during the process they want you to completely take over, which is a signal you have earned their trust, they can just sit back and enjoy the ride.
#2 – Encourage Actions That Earn Trust
When anyone takes action there is risk. Therefore, when you design a process that has your buyers taking actions that reliably lead to favorable outcomes, you instantly earn their trust.
When your buyers are engaged in activities, you have their full attention. When those actions lead to desired outcomes, you progressively earn their trust.
Earned trust is the one quality that consistently leads to more sales. More importantly, trust builds relationships wit customers that become ambassadors of your business brand.
#3 – Nurture Relationships and Brand Advocates
When you help people solve problems and achieve their dreams, they feel good about their relationship with your business and tell their friends about it.
Traditional marketing sought to earn customer satisfaction and loyalty after the sale.
Collaborative marketing and selling seeks to engage the buyer at an emotional level throughout the entire process, such that they become advocates that share the entire experience with their friends and family.
Give them more than they have expected or imagined.
Get them so excited about working with you that they are telling their friends while it is all happening, and hopefully long after that.
In other words, design your sales and marketing to help your buyer feel what they want to feel.
Look for more on that in a future article.
Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)