Best ways of selling to informed customers

“Information is a deciding factor for consumers when making their choices and affects both consumer interests and their confidence in the products and services circulating within the market,” – European Union (EU)

The art of pitching and closing a sale primarily comprises a mind game between the paying customer and the salesperson keen to close a sale. Numerous sales strategies and tactics have evolved over the ages and these have been refined over the years in keeping with the times. Trust is a vital component in any business or retail transaction and therefore, must be preserved at all times. The average customer can be sized up quickly by seasoned sales personnel, but informed customers have to be treated differently. Such customers may be sellers themselves and may be privy to market information; this makes them privileged consumers that stand ‘head and shoulders’ above the rank and file of regular customers.

Selling products and services to informed customers is akin to a fine art. The salesperson should be sure of his facts and should refrain from taking the customer for granted. The salesperson should also be aware that sophisticated and well-heeled clientele stay abreast of current trends and conditions in the market. Therefore, the selling spiel should be accurate and matter-of-fact while remaining entirely devoid of bombast and gimmickry. Sales targets should ideally be in tune with market realities and the customers being served. Well travelled consumers tend to be informed customers and the salesperson or business establishment needs to assure them that the products and services being marketed are top notch, absolutely first class!

The salesperson can also take the initiative to create and nurture a business relationship with informed customers. Such actions tend to generate trust between the seller and the customer and the sanctity of such actions can help to expand the business over time. The business establishment may deal in mundane goods or in high value merchandise, but the trust cultivated over many transactions and many years can cement the relationship between the two parties. Such positive developments can also have the effect of winning new customers that have been referred by regular customers.

A regular exchange of market information between the business establishment and informed customers can prove beneficial to both parties. If we consider such sharing of information within the ambit of the law of the land, then this kind of selling strategies can ensure repeat business and tidy profits. The tribe of informed customers may also feel obliged to share market information (to which they have privileged access) and this can easily generate tangible business benefits. Such customers may easily provide the business some insights on the courses of action underway in similar business establishments. This sharing of information may be priceless in certain circumstances. Therefore, we may say that businesses (and enterprises) may treat such customers as business partners in the informal sense of the term.

Informed customers may be viewed as a sign of changing business environments. The information revolution is well and truly upon us and we live in an age where the surfeit of information is the new normal. Electronic gadgets and information services are all pervasive and therefore no one is exempt from the deluge of information. The domains of trade and business are no exception; therefore, it would be folly to expect that customers remain below par as far as access to market information is concerned. Such awareness can help the modern business enterprise to deal with current business realities. For greater effect, the business enterprise may make it a point to inform its sales personnel to make a judicious disclosure of market conditions before they embark on selling strategies devised for informed customers.

A business can treat informed customers as privileged beings and so may offer special treatment to such entities. Such treatment may include sponsored family holidays and fully paid trips to business conferences and conventions. Festivals and special occasions may warrant special gifts being delivered to the residential or business premises of such customers. In addition, privileged access and preferential previews to new goods and services may be considered as part of the special treatment reserved for these customers. Consider this: an airline may choose to offer special treatment to informed customers in the form of additional frequent flyer miles, access to reserved first class passenger lounges, free airport pickups and drops, and the best seats with additional legroom on board long distance flights. Such treatment may yield repeat business for the airline and additional custom in the form of references. Such actions and privileges can comprise part of the airline’s selling strategies to special customers. The word of mouth publicity generated can also bring goodwill to the airline. In a similar vein, a large trans-national hospitality business may offer special discounts to informed customers.

These strategies of selling hinge on privilege and special treatment and have the potential to expand the ambit of commercial transactions. This may sound contradictory because business is business and emotions remain off the table as far as the rulebook is concerned. However, we must bear in mind that every business thrives on its customers and therefore, the rulebook can be amended to accommodate informed customers.

The intelligent sales person can work to expand his network of customers to benefit the business enterprise. Such expansion may not necessarily take the form of material benefits for the customer. Superlative treatment within the confines of the showroom can just as well make the customer feel special and swing business deals in favour of the enterprise. A guided tour of the manufacturing premises of the enterprise may also work to the advantage of the business. Such benefits can play out in the form of positive impressions registered in the minds of informed customers. The demonstration of robust business capabilities can assure the customers that the enterprise remains in good hands and is headed in the right direction. This can also generate goodwill to the effect that privileged customers will act to lock in their fortunes with the enterprise in question. Such actions can work wonders in terms of arresting customer churn; this is significant and remains a key metric for the modern business enterprise.

Informed customers can also help to turn conventional business wisdom on its head. The knowledge, experience, and wisdom that such customers bring to the table can prove priceless for any enterprise. Consider this: a business enterprise is contemplating diversification of its business beyond the ken of its core competencies. While this may appear to be a positive step in the direction of business expansion, such a course of action is always fraught with the dangers of business failure arising from unforeseen circumstances. Informed customers may act as stewards and good Samaritans and may advise the business management against such a course of action. The potential pitfalls may be highlighted and such business expansion may therefore be relegated to the back burner. The customers may advise the management to stay true to their declared intents and business plans. This timely intervention may save the business from blunders and the ensuing complications.

The paragraphs above seek to illustrate the many ways to sell goods and services to informed customers. Any business will need to take a long view of the market and then chalk out a customer service plan accordingly. These actions should help the business to grow and expand for many years into the future.

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