Grounded in these eight principles, you can quickly and easily implement many of the "Contrarian Effect" strategies and master the art of selling.
1. Build relationships and make connections.
Each potential customer is human, just like you. He or she is not a “prospect,” a “commodity,” a “transaction,” or a “potential sale.” Customers respond best when you engage with them, seek to understand their needs and desires, listen and ask questions, and make a sincere effort to connect with them. Howard Behar, former president of Starbucks Coffee North America and Starbucks Coffee International, knows this. Building relationships and connecting with customers is one of the major reasons that Starbucks has a fiercely loyal following and has become an extremely profitable company. Take Behar’s advice: “If you think of your customers as people, you’ll make a connection with them, and they’ll come back over and over again to enjoy the coffee and the experience.”
2. Respect your customers and honor their wishes.
From the moment you connect with potential customers, they are in control of the relationship and whether or not it will result in a sale. When you accept that your clients have ultimate control and unlimited choice and that they have the power to speed up or slow down the sale, you honor their wisdom and respect that they know what’s best for them. This approach allows you to build trust and credibility quickly, open doors, and earn the right to keep in touch with them over time.
3. Target specific groups of individuals and the people with whom you do your best work.
You can easily and effectively cut through the noise of the marketplace and reach the customers that are meant to buy from you by accepting that not everyone with a pulse and a checkbook is a good—or profitable—client for you. Instead of buying leads lists or attempting to reach the masses, you can sell more by identifying the specific customers and industries that can most benefit from your services. As a result of that knowledge, you can craft very specific and relevant offers for them, speeding up the sales process and establishing long-term relationships with potential clients.
4. Make relevant and timely offers.
When you listen to your target audience, understand their needs and desires, and know why they buy what you are selling, you have a secret weapon that many of your competitors don’t have. You have the ability to make valuable and timely offers specifically tailored to your potential clients. Relevancy gives you a sizable advantage, allowing you to follow up frequently and consistently with potential clients so that you are the person they contact when they are ready to buy. It also gives you the specific data you need to put together no-barrier-to-entry offers that give them an experience of what it’s like to work with you.
5. Increase your “likeability factor.”
Customers buy from people they know, like, and trust. They will spend more and want to buy from you if you sincerely demonstrate that you are likable and trustworthy—something that your competitor often forgets. By focusing on the actions that increase the affinity between you and potential customers, sales happen naturally—without any pressure, force, or the need for closing questions.
6. Practice radical transparency.
Customers have the power to dig up any information they desire. This reality is a big reason why it pays to practice radical transparency—to be honest, to maintain integrity, and to keep your word. Even though it can be tough to disclose everything fully about you and your product or service, it’s the right thing to do. It builds trust with customers and increases the likelihood that they will buy from you—especially if your competitors are telling white lies and fudging the facts. Being transparent is the only way you can build a stellar reputation and be known as the person they call when it’s time to buy—again and again and again.
7. Establish yourself as a trusted advisor.
More sales happen when customers see you as a trusted advisor. You can rise to the top of your company or industry when you become an expert on your product or service, fully understand your target market and what they need, and become a reliable resource who offers value regardless of whether clients are ready to buy. As a trusted advisor, clients will seek you out and want to build relationships with you, relationships that result in referrals and repeat business.
8. Collaborate with strategic partners to leverage your efforts.
Collaborating with others can mean the difference between meeting quota and having your best year ever. When you strategically partner with others who serve the same market, you not only leverage your efforts, but you reach more potential clients in less time and with less effort—potentials clients who already know and like you as a result of their relationship with your strategic partner. The more qualified clients you have in your network, the more likely you are able to surpass your personal best.
9. Think bigger about who you are and what you offer your clients.
You have a special opportunity—the ability to make a difference in the world and to impact powerfully the lives of your customers and clients. Think outside the box and exercise creativity in order to devise new and more effective ways to build relationships and win the hearts and minds of customers. When you build a stable of loyal clients who are motivated to tell everyone about their positive experiences with you, sales automatically happen. Instead of working alone, you have an army of enthusiastic buyers helping you meet potential clients and telling others why they should buy from you. As a result, you have more sales—and the satisfaction of knowing that you make a difference in the world.
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Real world examples of the "Contrarian Effect" in action:
Be like Royal Canin and . . .
Put together a targeted permission based e-mail program, newsletter, or white-paper that provides solutions to the challenges your customers are facing and gives you an effective way to keep in touch.
Be like Softrax and . . .
Create an “Always Have Something to Invite People To” free offer in the form of a webinar, a teleconference, a brown-bag seminar, or a recurring event that brings value to potential clients, builds trust, and gives them an experience of what it’s like to buy from you.
Be like eTapestry.com and . . .
Tell potential customers exactly what it’s like to work with you. CEO Jay Love outlines the eTapestry.com sales cycle in full on the company’s web site so that customers can feel safe in taking the first step in buying its products.
Be like Starbucks and . . .
Focus on relationships so that customers want to buy from you again and again. Remember, it's not about the coffee.
Be like Cabela’s and . . .
Design an environment that inspires customers to want to hang around you and allows them to buy when they’re ready.
Be like Nordstrom and . . .
Put your customers first, even when it means offering refunds with no questions asked.
Be like USAA and . . .
Keep your word and your commitments to your customers so that you have loyal customers—and constant referrals from those loyal customers.
Be like Southwest Airlines and . . .
Do the opposite even when everyone else in your industry is stuck in the status quo. It’s the only way you can become the best and sell more than you ever thought possible.