Jaynie L. Smith, a U.S. sales and marketing consultant, likes to tell the story of the company that stuck to basics. It believed customers buy from people they know and trust. So its account reps put all their effort into building relationships with clients, through social events, expensive lunches and golf matches at the finest clubs.

Somehow, though, this didn’t turn into sales. When the company finally looked into why its customers buy, it discovered clients actually prized quality and reliability most highly – no matter how much they enjoy the 19th hole.

How could a company get so out of touch with its clients? Smith, founder and chief executive of Floridabased Smart Advantage Inc., says this is standard procedure for most companies. She says her most recent book, Relevant Selling, is written for the 90% of businesses that never engage in formal customer research to ensure they’re selling what their clients want to buy.
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