Why Smart Sales Leaders Want Clients, Not Customers

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse and has been adapted for use on this blog with kind permission of Larry Levine.

“The quality of your life as a sales rep is based upon the quality of your relationships”

We would all agree, customer experience matters more now than ever before and sales reps who don’t adapt to a customer-led mindset through personalization will fall further behind and suffer major customer churn.

In today’s modern business world, full of business intelligence, marketing automation tools and social media, your customers and prospects are expecting a different type of interaction; one which is personalized, genuine and authentic.

According to a Forrester report, only 27 percent of buyers find salespeople are knowledgeable about the buyer’s specific business, meaning an astounding 73 percent of buyers don’t think salespeople understand their company’s needs. This is a problem.

Think of the 73% when it comes to your current customers, how you converse and build relationships with them matters as this can be a key differentiator between you and your competition. Conversation is an art form taking a certain skill set along with practice to get the job done correctly.

This got me thinking. To truly develop a loyal customer, I encourage all sales leaders to work with their sales teams to change their mindset regarding how they view their customers.

There Is a Huge Difference between a Client and a Customer

Lawyers, financial advisers along with health care specialists all have clients. The people buying their services value what they have to offer. These people taken time to choose the person who best suits their needs and do not choose on price. They are happy to pay extra for the right person who offers the right services.

Grocery, department and electronic stores have customers. The people who buy their products typically buy on price. Occasionally, they may choose convenience and pick the store closest to them but rarely is there loyalty. As soon as a cheaper price or a more convenient option comes along they will be happy to move to a new store.

The Million Dollar Question – Are Customers Loyal or Are Clients Loyal?

Here lies the question for you all to think about – when asked, do most sales reps refer to their customers as customers or as clients? If they refer to them as clients then why do they treat them as customers?

It is my belief customers buy things or products, whereas clients seek knowledge and advice. A customer is a transaction and a client is a relationship.

“I don’t build in order to have clients, I have clients in order to build” – Ayn Rand

Customers are what you get when sales reps do nothing to create personal connections and fail to worry about ever getting them to continue to do business with them time after time.

A client is what sales reps create when they make a personal connection and build a relationship based upon the benefit their services provide. A client is what we create when we create an outstanding experience around the relationship we build.

So ask yourself…Do you have customers or clients in your business?

Simple stuff, in order to get a client you need to build a relationship. To be able to keep a client, and have them with predictability refer business, you need to nurture and care for the relationship on a regular basis. Check out my man Mike Garrison, the referral machine. The way you build relationships is through experiences.

Build Relationships through Conversations

If you truly want to get to know your clients and prospects then take the sales hat off, roll up your sleeves and engage in healthy conversation.

What prevents you from getting to know your clients?

Here lies my concern. How many sales reps have truly meaningful conversations with their clients outside of the selling process? How many relationships are you developing inside your current account base?

The question to ask yourself as a sales leader is how are your sales reps making your clients feel before, during and after doing business with them?

Are they making them feel important?

Do your clients feel that your sales reps care about them?

Do they feel like they can trust your sales reps?

Focus on developing conversations, not sales campaigns. It is not about your agenda, it is about opening up human to human conversation. It is not about you it is about helping your client. Develop a sincere desire and demonstrate you are interested in your client’s world and what motivates them.

When was the last time you had a conversation with one of your clients that didn’t involve trying to sell them something?

Key Differences between Clients and Customers

  • Someone who purchases goods and services from a company is known as the Customer. Client refers to someone who seeks professional services from the company.
  • A company focuses on selling the product and services to the customer. On the other hand, the company focuses on serving the client.
  • A company offers goods and services to its customers. Clients who seek professional services like advisory, legal, consultancy and many more.

Let’s say you are a sales rep within the Office Technology space who sells solutions and services, wouldn’t you agree you should have clients? Aren’t they seeking your knowledge and expertise? Wouldn’t they choose the one who creates the right business results for them as they value the outcome?

A sales rep with a customer focused mindset will get beat up on price. A sales rep with a client focused mindset becomes a valuable asset.

I understand, clients sometimes will move on but they tend to do so when they discover a better business solution or a better experience, not when they find a cheaper price.

What Value Are Your Sales Reps Bringing?

Your clients are the lifeblood to your success. No clients, no business. Think of a servant led mindset and lead with your heart to serve them and bring about a positive change.

  • You must think about your clients more than your competitors
  • You must give your clients reasons to stick around by providing an outstanding experience
  • You must give them more value for your price than you charge
  • You must focus on their success not your success

Sales reps must take the time to truly get to know their clients. I encourage you all to ask this question to each and every one of your clients…

What is the difference I have made to your business?

When we as sales reps sincerely and deeply understand our clients this will open the door to more creative solutions. This becomes a huge stepping stone to a synergistic and profitable partnership.

I leave you all to think about this…

Customers buy things while clients seek advice.

Stop viewing your customers as customers and start viewing them as clients. Watch what happens to your profits.

If you would like some inspiration I welcome the conversation or send me a message to llevine@socialsalesacademy.net. Your comments are greatly appreciated.



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