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What’s More Important: The Product Or The Customer?

With sales targets to hit & seasonal bonuses coming up, we all want the best sales figures. When we work for a company we have belief in the product or service. We believe ours is the best out there and customers would be mad not to buy!

Should we not consider ourselves lucky if the customer decides to buy?

I have spent 10 years selling what could be considered luxury items. I now have a team who sell those items also. These products have a personal nature:  cosmetics, perfume, jewelery etc. They can carry high end price tags. They are sometimes bought and never used. (I don’t mind admitting I have bought many cosmetic items over the years that I have never even opened).

With this information, I could create a profile. For example:  young woman, working, buys cosmetics, doesn’t always use them. I could then build a sales strategy from that. Many sales strategies start from customer profiles or potential profiles and the demand for the products. Whilst this is a logical and structured way to approach sales strategies, we are forgetting two important factors;

1. The customer’s actual needs
2. The sales-person

I sell cosmetics & perfume therefore my customer pigeon-hole could be “women in general”, so a man would have no use for my products… WRONG. He may have a mother, sister, wife. We must make a call on our potential customers needs as we meet them. I can’t go prepared with set ideas of who will buy and who wont. I must also be mindful that customers know their own needs and don’t need me telling them what they need.

How many times are Sales Teams taught sales strategies, rather than being taught about the product they are selling? Too many. The product  could be an answer to many  customers’ needs. The answer must be factual and educated, not a chance to knock the competition. It must also be truthful, and if we don’t have the answer we must get back to the customer with it.

It’s become clear to me that our customers are the important factor here. We could have the greatest product ever invented but if we alienate half our potential customers because we think they won’t have a use for it, we are taking from the products’ greatness.

If we realise that our customers are the key to our product and not the other way around, that seasonal bonus should be achievable.

The Training and Up-Skilling of your team, whether it is just you a Sole-Trader or you and a team of 200 is vital in the development of your Business. I have worked for over 15 years in Traditional Sales & Direct Sales spheres; I advanced from being a Direct Sales Agent to becoming a Business Development Manager involved in the Recruitment and Training of other Direct Sales Agents. I have developed Sales Training Programs that are effective and fun, bringing Sales Teams together up and down the country. Because I have worked in a Sales and Customer Service capacity for over 15 years, in both the retail and direct sales environments, I have learned vital techniques that can establish Customer & Sales Agent behaviors. This has allowed me a great understanding of Sales Processes. I have gained valuable experience in all aspects of Sales, Sales Training and Customer Service: Sales Pipeline Establishment and Development, Objection Handling, Closing Sales, Business Development, Networking, Customer Service, Complaint Handling, Complaint Resolution, Training and Education of Sales Agents.

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  • Hi Tori, prejudging potential customers is one of the biggest mistakes any salesperson can make and this can be an even bigger factor when it comes to selling between the sexes. This point can also be extended to hiring. I previously convinced a client (large car dealers) to hire a female salesperson into what had previously been a male only team. Within a few short months, she was one of the top performing reps. The reason, she naturally understood one half of the customer base much better than the existing reps. As logical as this is, how many female car sales people have you come across?

  • Along the same lines… I shared a house with the leading Car Salesperson (two years) for Chicago (about as competitive as it gets).nnOne of her u2018tricksu2019 was to talk to people as much as possible, and talk more, and more…nnShe knew her customers inside out. And even if they didnu2019t buy, theyu2019d send others to her because she was so helpful.nnMost sales people, donu2019t know how to listen. nnTheyu2019re in broadcast mode. nnThey need to flip it around. n

  • How very true Tori. It amazed me when I was an Ann Summers Manager the amount of party organisers that didn’t target male customers. When I first started I didn’t drive and I’d always leave a brochure with every taxi driver I hired and developed many loyal customers in them. Everyone is a potential customer for most products and yes, developing that all important relationship is the first step, knowing your product definitely comes second, sales technique comes third, in my opinion. Great post.

  • ToriHawthorne

    Thanks for your comments guys…nWhen concentration is put on sales technique I feel it creates a more pushy sales-person. All that will do is turn customers away.nAnd my male sales agents are doing well ;-)nnThanks to ye all for taking time to comment.

  • Hi TorinnCustomer before product everytime (provided that the product delivers of course!). nnOften the argument is made that you cannot create a great product without the sales first to pay for development (especially in the services business). But I have seen when product or service development has not happened properly before it was sold to an unsuspecting public. nnThis is a disaster, hence the comment above that the product needs to do what it says when purchased!nnRegardsnBarney

  • If I was selling cosmetics, why would I not consider men? There is a market for every product and service out there, otherwise it would not be thought of :)nnIn the same light, there is product for every person, and a person for every product. But only the person can dictate the product they prefer (aside from obvious advertising cajoling).nnIt is possible to sell to people who never considered a product, create a market that was not previously there. it’s the thought process and techniques used then, that will dictate success, I feel.nnGreat post Tori, thanks for highlighting the importance of the WIIFT, when attempting to sell 🙂

  • Consumer: He determines the success of a business or a product. If a product is not useful or fails to satifsy, it will eventually be out of the market.

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