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Agrimarketing : April 2012
Editor’s Note: This is the sixth of several installments from the new book “ProSelling: A Professional Approach to Selling in Agriculture and Other Industries.” At each step in the buying process, the salesperson plays a role in facilitating the customer ’s decision. In all, the buying decision is a process that is unique to the individual and the sale. Successful sellers first understand customer needs, and then recognize the process through which the customer arrives at a decision to buy. Individuals go through the process of a buying decision at different speeds and use different types of information. It is a salesperson’s job to understand these differences. FOLLOW UP Once a purchase is made, customers have a strong and logical tendency to justify their decisions. They look for information that reinforces their judgment and for early “clues” about results that can provide information for future purchases. When a customer has “second thoughts” after buying, the feelings they have are called “post purchase dissonance” or “buyer ’s remorse.” Customers may wonder if the purchase was the right thing to do. They want to justify their decisions and to do that they need reinforcement from you, the salesperson. Customers may also seek reinforcement from colleagues, peers, or even friends or family whose opinion is trusted. Buyer remorse is quite common, but dissatisfaction problems resulting from buyer ’s remorse usually can be corrected by a visit by the salesperson. For products that are on-going repetitive purchases, a positive post-purchase evaluation is especially important, as it usually determines the supplier for the next sale. Research into dissonance shows that if a person makes a commitment to change, they want to know their commitment was worthwhile. In fact, they will ignore information that might indicate they made a bad decision, or rationalize it away if it cannot be ignored. The need to feel they made a good decision is often so great that the person is unlikely to accept any contrary information. In professional selling, understanding dissonance may help explain why some people go to great lengths to protect or defend the decisions they’ve made. CUSTOMER LOYALTY When a customer routinely experiences a positive result of buying decisions, they may begin to express loyalty. Loyalty is something that every salesperson and every company wants. When customers are loyal, they are willing to accept minor concerns and temporary problems because they believe in the salesperson and the company. They may be more resistant to competitive offers or willing to pay a slightly higher price. Many customers are as loyal to a salesperson with whom they have worked for many years as they are to a company or brand. Over time, the customer may come to depend heavily on information supplied by the salesperson and will often rely on salesperson recommendations. Loyalty may be transactional — where buying habits are formed based on price, location, or specific product use. Or, loyalty may be emotional, where the customer values the relationship, brand, or experience of buying. All customers like to do business with people upon whom they can depend and whom they trust. The closeness of the relationship appears to be the most important element of emotional loyalty. A salesperson who consistently brings information that the customers sees as integral to their organization builds emotional loyalty. Loyalty also comes from the ability of a trusted salesperson to help a customer avoid penalties, costs or hazards or leverage expertise offered by the supplier. Regulatory issues are seen as a tremendous challenge in nearly every industry. Sales professionals who stay abreast of these issues, understand their impact on customers, and help customers recognize and deal with the challenges are often seen as loyal partners rather than just vendors. AM ProSelling — 6TH IN A SERIES SALES’ ROLE IN THE BUYING PROCESS “ProSelling: A Professional Approach to Selling in Agriculture and Other Industries” is authored by Scott Downey, David Downey, Mike Jackson, and Laura Downey and published by Agri Marketing magazine. It is available at www.AgriMarketing.com in the Bookstore. AM Step 1: Need Recognition Help the customer identify and define their need Step 2: Information Search Provide information that helps the customer identify the criteria for making a good decision Step 3: Examine Alternatives Show the customer the benefits of the sales person’s solution compared to others Step 4: Choose Provide contracts, terms, and packages that make it easy for the customer to buy Step 5: Post-Purchase Evaluation Follow up with the customer to ensure actual benefits at least match expected benefits April 2012 I Agri Marketing 63 63 APR ProSelling Book Excerpt_32 Feature Story 4/9/12 2:24 PM Page 63