Customer Centric Selling: Methodology, Stages, & How to Make It Work for Your Sales Goals

The customer-centric sales approach revolves around building connections with your customers by emphasizing their preferences and requirements over making a sale.

Customer Centric Selling: Methodology, Stages, & How to Make It Work for Your Sales Goals

Imagine walking into a high-end store where every item you come across has been handpicked just for you. The staff, without sounding pushy, effortlessly guides you across the store and offers suitable recommendations that fit your needs.

This kind of scenario sounds like a dream for every customer and you should do your best to accommodate your customers’ needs to the fullest. 

One way to achieve that is by utilizing customer-centric selling techniques where you tailor to your customers' expectations and drive the conversation forward using genuine sales engagement

So, to help you with adopting a buyer-centric sales approach, in this blog post, I will go over what is customer-centric sales model, its benefits, and how you can implement it in your existing sales process. Let’s get into it!

What is a customer-centric selling approach?

Customer-centric selling is a strategic sales approach that places buyers’ requirements, preferences, and satisfaction at the forefront of every interaction. 

It is different from the traditional sales techniques where the emphasis is on the product or service without considering customers’ individual needs.

The customer-centric selling methodology acknowledges that each customer is unique and values a personalized sales experience. It’s about aligning the sales process with the customer’s journey, from the initial engagement to the post-sale support, to create long-lasting relationships. 

This approach not only leads to increased sales but also enhances customer loyalty and advocacy, which is invaluable in today’s competitive marketplace.

Why is customer-centric selling so important?

The numbers surrounding the effectiveness of customer-centric selling are very captivating. As a matter of fact, businesses that utilize this sales model generate 4-8% more profits compared to the ones that don't. 

Having said that, let’s see how your business can benefit from using a sales approach that revolves around your buyers.

Build long-term relationships

The customer-centric approach focuses on building trust and rapport with your prospects to foster long-term relationships. When customers feel that a company genuinely cares about their pain points and success, they are more likely to become loyal, repeat customers and advocate for your brand.

Get an edge over your competitors

In saturated markets, where similar products or services are available from multiple providers, customer-centricity becomes a critical differentiating factor.

By adopting a buyer-centric sales method, you can ensure that you stand out by offering a superior, tailored experience that your competitors may not be able to match.

Higher customer retention  

Searching for and acquiring new customers is a costly process. 

It is six to seven times more expensive to get a new prospect to become a customer than to get a repeat purchase from an existing buyer, implying that retention is much more cost-effective than actively looking for new customers.

So, by continuously focusing on customers’ needs and addressing their issues, you can reduce your churn rate. This way, you will also save countless dollars that you might have otherwise spent trying to find and convert a prospect.

Stages of customer-centric selling process

The customer-centric selling (CCS) is based on aligning your company’s offerings with your customers' preferences and needs. It is an approach that includes several stages. Let’s see these stages in depth:

Discovery

As the name suggests, the discovery stage involves getting to know your customers better and understanding their problems or objectives. This involves asking the correct sales qualifying questions and actively listening to their responses.

For example, some of the common questions you can ask in this stage are:

  • What are the primary challenges you're currently experiencing?
  • Can you describe your goals and objectives for the upcoming quarter/year?
  • Are you the decision-maker? If not, who are the key decision-makers in your company?

The main purpose of the discovery stage is to uncover specific challenges the customer is facing and gather information that will help you tailor your sales process or outreach efforts accordingly.

Diagnostic

After you have gathered preliminary information in the discovery phase, you can now move on to the diagnostic stage. Here, you delve deeper into the customer’s needs and problems. 

The goal of this stage is to identify the root cause of the customer’s challenges and position yourself as a problem solver.

You can use tools like need assessment questionnaires or surveys to gain a more in-depth understanding. A few of the questions you can ask in this phase are:

  • Did you try to address this problem previously? If so, what were the results?
  • Have you identified any underlying root factors contributing to your problem?
  • Are there any budget constraints or timeline considerations we should take into account?

Analytic

In the analytic stage, you analyze the information collected in the previous stages and use it to develop personalized solutions that address the customer’s specific needs. 

This stage includes creating proposals, product recommendations, and pricing strategies that align with the customer’s objectives. 

The goal here is to demonstrate the value your product or service will offer. It is here that you will handle objections or answer any questions your customers might have and convince them to make a purchase.

Nordstrom, for example, is an online apparel store that has developed its analytics platform, Nordstrom Analytical Platform (NAP) to understand customer preferences and enhance product relevance.

Using this AI-based analytical platform, Nordstrom finds the right product for its customers based on their previous purchases and predicts which kind of items they might be interested in.

Sustainment

The sustainment phase starts after you have successfully closed the deal and focus on providing post-sale support to maintain a long-term relationship. 

It includes offering ongoing assistance, ensuring customer satisfaction, and nurturing the relationship to encourage repeat business and referrals. The sustainment stage is crucial for building customer loyalty and maximizing the lifetime value of the customer. 

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How to adopt a customer-centric selling approach?

Adopting a customer-centric sales approach involves a fundamental shift in mindset and a commitment to prioritizing customers’ needs throughout the sales process.

With that said, here are the steps you have to follow to ensure that you are building sustainable customer relationships that will help in the long run.

Know your customers

As I have repeated multiple times in this article, the most important aspect of a customer-centric model is the customer or people. 

So, the first step is to get a complete understanding of your target market and the common or uncommon problems they come across.

To do that, conduct thorough research on your target customers and their industries. 

One of the best ways to achieve this is to create buyer personas. Buyer personas are a representation of your target customers or a segment of your target market. 

They contain information about your customers, such as geographic, demographic, and behavioral information to better understand their wants and preferences.

Ask questions, don’t rely on guesswork

What is the best way to find out what your customers want or what are the issues they are facing? Asking questions!

You don’t have to formulate complex algorithms or spend time forecasting what are the problems your target customers are having. All you have to do is simply ask them and they will gladly tell you everything you want to know.

This step is often overlooked because businesses sometimes pay more attention to creating a perfect product rather than asking the right sales questions. 

You are halfway at home if you know what your customers want and then you can cater to those needs using your offerings.

Start by asking common, open-ended sales engagement questions to get basic information from customers and engage them in a conversation. 

Once you get the information you need, you can move on to the next step of tailoring your offerings according to the data you received.

Target decision-makers

Imagine that you have collected all the information from your prospects and crafted an excellent proposal that addresses every one of their pain points but when it’s time to close the deal, you find out that they need to discuss it with their manager or supervisor before making a decision.

To avoid this kind of situation to happen, consider targeting key decision-makers and not the end users who will use your product or service. 

Also, keep in mind that most decision-makers are aware of the problems their teams are facing and will give you accurate information to solve the problem. 

This might not be the case for an individual end-user as they may not know the issues other departments or teams are going through.

To find the decision makers in your target market, look for people who are in management positions or team leads responsible for handling an entire department. 

LinkedIn is the best B2B platform where you can find information about industry professionals who can be your prospective clients.

But LinkedIn alone is not enough to find all the details about a decision-maker. 

So, you can use Zixflow’s LinkedIn Email Finder Extension to find accurate contact information and store it in your CRM to ensure that your outreach messages are being delivered to the right person every time.

Be transparent and ensure open communication

Maintaining open lines of communication can allow you to stay connected with your customers throughout the stages of the sales pipeline and beyond. By being accessible and responsive to buyers' queries, you can build credibility with them.

Also, make sure that you are transparent with your customers about what your offerings can and can’t do. Transparency is a critical aspect of every sale process. 

If you are hiding information from your customers regarding the usability of your product or service, you are risking losing a customer and damaging your reputation.

For instance, Patagonia, a retailer of outdoor and sportswear, prides itself on its transparency regarding its eco-friendly production operations. 

Patagonia actively addresses any queries about its environmentally friendly processes and is truthful about its flaws. This way, it has created a loyal customer base that believes in its vision.

So, avoid making promises you can’t keep. Honesty builds trust and trust is the foundation of solid customer-centric relationships. 

On top of that, keep your customers informed about progress and updates related to your products that are relevant or important to them. 

To reach out to customers you will need a sales engagement platform that will let you send outreach messages to your customers whenever you need. 

With the outreach capabilities of Zixflow, you can get in touch with your customers and reply to their messages from a single platform.

Zixflow lets you send messages across multiple channels, such as SMS, email, and WhatsApp to ensure that you can always be one message away from your customers.

Various engagement channels offered by Zixflow to provide all-around sales engagement.

Train your teams to put customers first

Most of the time it’s your sales team that reaches out to prospects and engages with them throughout the sales process. 

So, it is crucial that each rep knows the meaning of customer centricity and has a mindset to put customers first across your entire organization structure, including management, team leaders, and sales staff.

For example, Apple has implemented a coaching program for its sales reps to focus on buyers’ requirements and then provide relevant Apple products as recommendations to ensure they don’t appear pushy.

That’s why you have to foster a customer-centric culture in your company and train your sales or customer-facing team members to drop a product-centric selling approach. One way to go about this is by building a sales enablement ecosystem within your organization.

Sales enablement is a continuous process of providing ongoing training and resources to your reps to get them familiar with your business’s culture. It allows you to align your sales teams with your viewpoint to deliver a consistent sales experience to every customer.

Accelerate your sales by using a customer-centric sales approach

Adopting and getting used to the customer-centric sales approach is an ongoing process that requires dedication to putting the customer at the center of your sales efforts. 

It is no longer the case of just making a sale but creating satisfied, loyal customers who see you as a partner in their success. Plus, you have to ensure that you consistently put the customer’s requirements first, from the initial contact through the post-sale support. 

For that, you will need powerful software that will assist you in every stage of the sales process and automate sales workflows so you can concentrate on establishing valuable connections with customers that will support you in the long run.

Zixflow is the platform that enables you to engage your customers using multi-channel engagement and drive revenue for your business while creating a loyal customer base advocating for your brand.

The software offers a free-to-use package and the campaigns have a pay-as-you-go pricing plan so you don’t have to pay a subscription charge each month to use it. So get your personalized demo today or sign up at no cost and start using a robust tool to take your sales to another tier.

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