What Are You Really Selling?
The frame is very close. After cutting a round wheat loaf of bread, an attractive saleswoman raves about the aroma while smelling its delightful aroma.

Are you missing out on sales because you are selling the wrong thing?

I walked up to the counter at my favorite local coffee shop. The young girl behind the counter with a beaming smile, looks me in the eye and says. “How are you doing today?”

At first I was taken aback. After all, I just wanted to order my coffee and go sit in the corner to think through my schedule for the day. I stuttered and said “Umm, I am doing good”. She persists and says “really? You look a bit stressed.” I respond, “Yeah I guess I am a little, thanks for asking.” I order my coffee and she moves to the next person in line.

What is going on here?

What is interesting about this coffee shop is that people are sitting around and talking. Sure there are a few people that are staring at their computers, but most people are in a good mood and talking with people that they have never met.

On the surface, this place just sells coffee. But what they are really selling is community.

As entrepreneurs, its easy to forget what we are really selling. Of course we know we are selling services and products. But what outcome or experience are we selling? If you were to talk to ten sales people, chances are most of them would just tell you about the details of their product or service and how great they are.

What customers care about

Our customers don’t really care about that, what they really want to know is how is our product or service is going to impact their business and personal lives, helping them make deeper connections with others.

We all know that connection is a fundamental human trait and that most solutions will boil down to the this simple idea.

Selling connections is good business and fun too. The people that work behind the counter in this coffee shop, seem to genuinely enjoy talking to their customers. They know a lot of them by name and greet newcomers like an old friend.

What’s really interesting is that when I go to this coffee shop, I never ask or care about the price of my coffee. I find myself always leaving an extra generous tip too. We are not buying a cup of coffee we are paying for community, and community is priceless.

So how does this apply to your business?

For many of us, our customers are virtual and we don’t really have a chance to greet them personally and interact with them in the same way as a local coffee shop.

Make your communication outwardly focused.

You can build loyalty and trust with our customers by talking about them and how your products or solution is going to help them build better human connections. You can’t do this by talking about you and your company. You must make it about them. Remember that smiling girl that asked how my day was going?

Take a look at your website, emails, podcasts and any media you create. Is it touting how great you are and the technical specs of your amazing offerings?

When you stop talking about how great you and your company are, and show them that you care. Sales will become a much more natural process. Whatever you charge for your goods and services will become an afterthought to the customer. Because what they are really buying the relationship.

Big brands try and do this all the time. Just watch any car commercial and you will see someone driving their car, having a great time with friends or talking with their neighbor.

Creating this outward focused communication is easy in some types of businesses, like the coffee shop. In your software or consulting company its a little more difficult. With some creative thought you can shift your companies entire focus from inward, to being focused on helping your customers create better and stronger connections.

Imagine if the girl at the coffee shop said “ We provide the best service and our coffee is shade grown, fair trade, organically grown and roasted this morning.” While that sounds nice, it is not going to have the same connective effect. As a side benefit, when you help people make connections the money becomes secondary and price barriers will vanish. You will have less competition because you are giving them connection and they won’t get that any place else.

What are you doing in your business to help your customers build closer human connections?

Related articles:

Follow-Up Is the Key Sales Criteria

6 Disciplines of Customer Experience

Grow Business Thru Customer Experience

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