Glad You Asked
In our sales books and elsewhere, the Action Selling system is described as a kind of instruction manual that tells you how to win genuine customer loyalty. Genuinely loyal customers are people with whom you have built such a strong relationship that they have stopped shopping among your competitors.
That kind of loyalty is the whole ball game. So when a potential client says, essentially, “I’m loyal to another supplier,” that means one of your competitors has beaten you to the punch. As customer objections go, this is a lulu. What in the world can you do?
The “loyalty” objection is tough. But to whom is the customer really loyal?
Action Selling teaches that every objection can be tied to one or more of the customer’s 5 Buying Decisions, which are sequenced in this order: Salesperson, Company, Product, Price, and Time to Buy. An objection refers either to the buying decision that you are hearing about or to a buying decision that precedes that one.
This is an important point because prospects who say “I have a strong relationship with another supplier” appear to be telling you that they prefer a competitor’s company to yours. In Action Selling terms, you might think the objection has to do with Act 5, and that you are failing to “sell your company” effectively.
But wait, not so fast. Loyalty is a feeling far more likely to be granted to a person than to a company. The strong relationship this customer is telling you about may very well be with a salesperson from the competitor’s company. If so, the real problem is that the customer has a stronger relationship with another salesperson than with you. This isn’t an Act 5 problem at all. You need to back up.
Acts 2, 3 and 4 of the Action Selling system are where we Sell the Salesperson. In Act 2, we demonstrate interest in the customer and the customer’s company by asking questions about them. In Act 3, we Ask the Best Questions to understand the customer’s situation and often to help the customers understand their own unique needs. In Act 4, we gain agreement with the customer on exactly what those needs are.
The salesperson who does those three things best wins, plain and simple. What if you find that a rival already has done an excellent job? Then your only chance is to do a better job—again, plain and simple.
Because loyalty is so powerful, you may or may not be able to salvage this deal. Either way, focus on improving your skills in Acts 2, 3, and 4. Then next time it will be your competitor who hears, “Thanks, but we’re loyal to another supplier.”