Book-of-the-Month: Think Like Your Customer

Selling is a delicate dance. Success comes when you Think Like Your Customer, the Book-of-the-Month by Bill Stinnett that promises “A Winning Strategy to Maximize Sales by Understanding and Influencing How and Why Your Customers Buy.” Written in 2004 and published by McGraw-Hill, it offers evergreen advice for anyone engaged in business opportunity sales.

Think Like Your Customer

Put the Emphasis on the Customer

The book offers practical ideas to ace the intricate back-and-forth that constitutes the sales process. For many business people, the focus is on what to sell and what methods to use that work best for the company. Stinnett points out that consistent sales only happen when companies pay attention to what the customer wants to buy, why he wants to buy it and how he want to participate in the sales process.

Customers aren’t buying a product, they are looking for a desired outcome. Make that happen for them, and you have a customer for life. Stinnett encourages sales and marketing staffs to concentrate on figuring out the current state of the customer and where he wants to be in the future, then customize the sales process to that reality.

The Difference Between Buying and Selling

The book also shows how important it is not to assume your company’s sales process is the same as your customer’s buying process. You need to figure out:

  • Where they are in the sales cycle
  • What they want and need to do next
  • Everyone who is part of the decision making process
  • How to help your customer take the next step in the sales process
  • The motive: is the purchase a planned replacement, a new purchase to stay competitive, a new purchase that is part of a new initiative, an unplanned replacement

Once you start thinking like your customer, once you put yourself in his shoes, you can gear your selling to his needs and the desired outcome he is looking for. Without this preparation, you are simply guessing. You may hit the mark, but more than likely you won’t. It leads to wasted time and irritated prospects.

The Importance of Why and How

In the book Stinnett goes through two major areas: why customers buy and how they buy. He helps you identify the company goals and objectives of your prospect. With this information in hand, you can present your product as a key part of his goal strategy.

He helps you figure out how to parse how your prospects make buying decisions. You can use this data to speed up the decision process at his end and improve your own bottom line.

Practical Advice

Bill Stinnett is more than a theoretical sales guru. As the president of his own sales consulting company, Sales Excellence, he has used and presented his ideas at as a corporate speaker and trainer to businesses like General Electric, American Express, Verizon, Microsoft, Lucent, EMC and Accenture.

The book has numerous personal anecdotes based on his own experience in sales, both winning and losing. He outlines specific steps to help you make selling a mutually beneficial exercise for you and your customer. The emphasis is on long-term value when dealing with potential buyers.

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