Stop Listening to Your Customers!
When I tell salespeople to stop listening to their customers, they stop listening to me. They think I’m nuts. It’s because they’ve been taught the No. 1 thing to do if they want to get sales is to be good listeners when talking with prospects and customers. That attitude has gotten a lot of field sellers and their companies in trouble. Salespeople should never listen to two big things customers say.
The first one is that your products are too high-priced. How would a customer know that? They have no idea what your costs are. If your costs aren’t the same as your competitor’s, so how could you possibly offer the same price? Grasping that concept makes any conversation about price during a seed sales conversation entirely irrelevant. How does a customer know if the price you are charging for your products is out of line?
The answer—when you deliver zero value to the customer. In that case, the only real value a farmer actually does get is solely from the products you sell. And since farmers can basically get the same product you sell from your competition, it makes the only real differentiator the salesperson. How much are you worth to your customers? Everything—you are the ONLY value a buyer buys.
The second thing salespeople should never listen to is which varieties customers want to buy next year. Customers use only one criteria to make that all-important decision and it’s the previous year’s results. What do last year’s results have to do with what customers need to plant next year? Nothing.
The previous year’s environment will never be repeated the following year and, therefore, neither will the exact performance of the varieties be the same. Yet, eager sales reps grateful for the order, give customers what they want and not what they really need—a portfolio of varieties based on what your company has to sell. Inventory accumulates and becomes unbalanced and the warehouse is soon filled with cash in the form of unsold seed. That’s what happens when you let customers tell you what they want, instead of you telling them what they need.
Stop listening to your customers on the two most important factors determining the success of your company—what they want to buy, and what they want to pay. After all, they don’t know the answer to either one.