Average Rating: 3.5
Your rating: none

Why do customers buy from you?

by Troy Harrison

I’m going to let you in on a secret. In fact, it’s the biggest secret in selling, and those who master it have a much greater chance for success than those who don’t. It’s this: customers are people. That’s it. That’s the big secret. Of course, there’s a secret that goes along with this one: Because customers are people, they can exercise their free will at any time.

What made me think of this was one of those articles detailing a sure-fire, works-every-time sales tactic that in reality only works if both you and the customer know the lines you’re supposed to say. The problem is, many times those pesky customers don’t know their lines, and then the tactic is out the window. I find that these types of tactics appeal mostly to salespeople who have little confidence in themselves and their own skills. The key to selling is to understand why customers buy, and how to position yourself to be the person they buy from. Let’s talk about that, shall we?

We all know customers have choices, and salespeople tend to deal with competitive selling situations with fear-based tactics designed to prevent the customer from buying from anyone else. The trouble is that, in doing so, they usually kill trust, price and profit. It doesn’t have to be that way. When you’re in a competitive selling situation, ultimately you should remember that the customer will buy from whom they want to, regardless of your tactics. Hence, the key is to become that person (or company). Here are the things the buyer is looking for:

They trust you. There’s no replacing trust. Your buyer must believe what you say; if they don’t trust you, all your claims, features and benefits don’t matter. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have to prove your claims with evidence (such as independent reports, testimonials, etc.), but it does mean that those items of proof will enhance your credibility.

They believe that you have their best interests at heart. As salespeople, we represent to our customers that we are intent upon generating wins for them by selling them our stuff. That’s great – as long as the customer buys into what you’re saying. The moment that the customer disbelieves you, and thinks that you’re out to pluck their wallet, kiss your sale goodbye.

They like you. Honestly, I hesitate to include this one – it’s led to more stupid and insincere selling than anything else in our profession. But, it’s still true – they have to like you. That doesn’t mean that you have to strive to be their best fishing or golfing buddy. It just means that they shouldn’t recoil at your presence. Customers buy from people other than buddies, relatives and best friends all the time – but they seldom if ever swing that business to someone they don’t like. So instead of the tired old fish-on-the-wall rapport building tactics, just be natural, recognize that we are all connected in one way or another, and be a good person.

They respect you. This is trickier. Respect is often confused with likeability and trust, but it’s not the same thing. Respect is all about finding you a worthwhile person, which is why “underdog” selling or begging for business doesn’t work. If your customer perceives you as unsuccessful, they will perceive that you are unsuccessful for a reason – and they’ll stay away.

Your stuff fits their needs. Ever tried to push a rope uphill? That’s what you’re doing if you’re selling something that isn’t truly a fit for what ails your customer. To retain trust, credibility and respect, you must be vigilant in making sure that your products or services are really a fit for what your customer needs – and if not, don’t offer them. Losing today’s sale (which is already lost because you’re not a fit) can give you a jump start on tomorrow’s.

You present good value. “Value,” in this definition, simply means that your customer perceives that what you’re selling is worth what you’re asking them to pay for it. It doesn’t mean “lowest price,” “most features,” or any other nonsense. It just means that your customer believes that the money spent is justified by the benefits received.

Where salespeople get into trouble is when they try to bypass these essential reasons. Offer the lowest price? Fine – your customer will shop your price to the salesperson that they want to buy from. Creating a “buy today’ sales tactic? Your customer will ask you to leave”

For you to be the successful salesperson, you must hit the six touch points above – and then and only then will your skills in closing, overcoming objections, etc., come into play.

Troy HarrisonTroy Harrison is the author of “Sell Like You Mean It!” and the president of SalesForce Solutions, a sales training, consulting and recruiting firm. For information on booking speaking/training engagements, consulting or to sign up for his weekly E-zine, call (913) 645-3603, e-mail or visit

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2012 issue of Industrial Supply magazine. Copyright 2012, Direct Business Media.


Post comment / Discuss story * Required Fields
Your name:
E-mail *:
Comment *: