Never Wrestle With A Pig

Never Wrestle With A Pig

Ever heard the old saying “Never wrestle with a pig”?  It goes something like this, “If you wrestle with a pig, you’ll only end up getting muddy.  And that’s something the pig likes.”

It might be a bit vague, but there’s a moral to my story.  If you wrestle with your customer, you’re going to end up getting muddy.  And your customers won’t mind a bit.  Matter of fact, most of them are counting on it.

Your Customer’s “World View”

I mentioned Seth Godin a few months ago.  He’s the author of All Marketers Are Liars, a book that explains why people behave as they do.  And to him, explaining why people do what they do is pretty simple.  People behave the way they do because of their opinions, or as Godin says, “Their Worldview.”

Everybody has a “worldview” of just about everything and anything.  And their actions or behaviors reflect how and what they believe.  Think about it.  Sales associates have a worldview of customers.  Customers have a worldview of sales associates.  And for that matter, they both have a worldview of selling.  But here’s the rub.

A customer’s “worldview” of selling is very different than that of the sales person.  When it was a seller’s market, the customer’s view didn’t matter, but in today’s market, it’s a big deal.  Let me explain what I mean.

What’s a customer’s worldview of a sales person?  Isn’t it “slick”, or maybe “pushy”?  On the other hand, what’s a sales person’s worldview of themselves?  Isn’t it “professional”, or maybe “relational”?    Interesting perhaps, but let’s go a bit further.  How does a customer view your sales process?  Doesn’t it boil down to one word, “pressure”?  And what about you, what’s your worldview of selling?  Isn’t it “closing”?

Your customers don’t trust you.  Their worldview causes them to believe that you are out to get their money … and that your purpose in life is to talk them into doing something that’s good for you, but not for them.  A year or two ago you were in charge, but with today’s realities it’s a new game.

If you haven’t figured it out, today’s customer knows that it’s all about them.  And if your customer feels like they are in charge, selling like you used to is sell is only making things worse.  In other words, you’re wrestling with the pig.  And if you decide to “wrestle” with your customer, you’re going to lose.  Today more than ever before.


Imagine Something Different

Wanna’ know what we keep hearing from customers?  What they tell us in focus groups and on questionnaires?  It shouldn’t surprise you, but then again it might.  It’s just as I said before.  Today’s customers are continuing to say that you’re no different than any of your competitors.  In fact, they’re telling us:

  • Builders look the same
  • Communities look the same
  • Sales people look the same
  • Discounts look the same

What customers are saying represents both the problem and the solution.  It’s a problem because they can’t tell the difference between you and everyone else.  And to make things worse, you can’t do much about it.  You’re pretty much stuck with the product you have, the places you build and the process you use to sell.  And if you decide to change your program, your competition says ‘me too” about an hour later.  The solution is obvious … but it might not be what you think.


 Cracking the Code

You’ve probably already noticed that I’ve mentioned builders, communities and incentives, but not sales people.  And I’m sure you’re already thinking, “Here it comes, he’s going to tell us that selling is the answer to our problems.”  Not really.  It’s not selling at all.  It’s “how you sell” that I’m talking about.  Here’s what I mean.

If you’re focusing on improving your selling, you’re probably focusing on “how to sell better”, when the real answer is something different.  It’s not “how to sell better” that’s important, it’s “how to be more effective” that counts.  So if you set out to improve your customer’s experience, you actually make it easier to “sell more effectively”.  And that’s the answer.

To “crack the code” for today’s market, you need to start focusing on your customer instead of yourself.  Tom Peters thinks so too.  In one of his latest books, Re-Imagine, he defines “value added” in terms of the “Quality of a Customer’s Experience”.

Peters says that an experience is an event and it leaves an indelible customer memory. Which means that the minute your customer realizes that your product has almost the same features, quality, design and incentives as your competition, the added value the sales associate brings is your only point of differentiation.

And that means that if you want to “sell more effectively”; you have to start by creating a memorable experience for your customer.


Who Said Selling Was Easy?

There’s a new rule for selling.  And it’s probably one of the most important sales rules to come along in decades.  Matter of fact, it should be something you remember as you plan your selling strategies.  Here it is.

Everything that touches a customer is the result of a process.

What does it mean?  Easy.  Everything that your customer experiences is the result of your process.  In other words, you have a design, selection, production and service process … and specifically a sales process.

The better your process happens to be, the better your customer’s experience will be.  In short, if you have a good process, your customer’s experience will be good.  If your process is flawed, your customer’s experience will be flawed.  But how are you supposed to know if your process is good or bad?  That’s easy too.

Ask your self these questions and you’ll have a pretty good idea if your sales process will help your customer achieve their agenda … and yours too.

  • Does my selling process “create value” for me or does it “create value” for my customer?
  • Do the questions I ask benefit me or benefit my customer?
  • Does my process focus on “selling” the customer or helping the customer make a “perfect” decision?

If you’re honest, you’ll know where you need to go.  If you aren’t, you’ll never get there.  Just remember, these aren’t the easiest questions you’ll ever answer.  The truth be known, they’re probably some of the hardest, but most worthwhile.  And for a reason.

Neil Rackham, author of SPIN Selling said it best when he stated, “Value has migrated from the product to how the product is acquired.”  And Rackham’s statement points out the biggest, best and most well kept secret in the homebuilding industry.

The key to making your numbers rests with your sales people and the experience they create for your customer.  After all, it’s the quickest, easiest and most inexpensive way to gain an advantage over you competition.

So what do you want to do?  Wrestle with the pig, or take advantage of the best kept secret in the industry?