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Customer, Client or Partner? Why Naming Conventions are Important

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

When you begin speaking with a new prospect, how you refer to them and think about them affects your attitude about what that future relationship can become. It will also affect your behavior.

When I think of a Customer, I think of an interaction that is transactional. A simple buy-sell relationship that might be just a one-time event. A great example is when you order something online. You may never do business with that vendor again.

When I think of a Client, I am expecting something more elaborate. There is likely more interaction between the buyer and seller prior to the sale and some expectation of connection after the sale. Most clients think of the seller as a Vendor (capital V). When your client thinks of you as a Vendor, they are holding you at arm’s length. There is no shared understanding of a win-win relationship. There is no expectation of openness or trust between the parties.

This arm’s length relationship will keep you in the dark about the prospect’s motives, their intentions and where you truly stand in the sales process. This is not in your best interest.

G.O.A.T. Sellers always strive to build a Partnership relationship with a prospect. In this scenario there is no Client and no Vendor, just two parties who have come together for a mutually beneficial relationship. A partnership is much like a marriage, which succeeds when there is a level of mutual respect, honesty and trust.

“I can do things you cannot do. You can do things I cannot do. Together we can do great things.”

- Mother Theresa

In my sales experience, once I came to realize the importance of my attitude toward a prospect, I worked to create a partnership with the prospect from our very first interaction. On a discovery call with a qualified prospect, I would make a point of explaining the journey we would be on to become partners. I would talk about the early days of our relationship as our “dating” period. As we became closer and began negotiating the terms of the relationship, I would talk about “getting engaged”. When the sale was made, I explained how I would be committed to the “marriage” long term (Advocacy) and would remain an advocate for them throughout the tenure of the relationship.

Perhaps this sounds corny to some of you reading this, but every prospect you talk to will instantly understand the difference between the relationship you are seeking and the one your competitor may be seeking. This allows you personally to become the differentiator in the sales process. This is a priceless differentiator, particularly in a very competitive market.

To understand this more clearly, put yourself in the prospect’s shoes. You have been given responsibility to make a very significant purchase for your company, which may make a strategic improvement in the company’s success. Also, your personal career prospects are at stake. Fear of making the wrong move is probably top of mind.

Now imagine you contact two potential sellers. One spends their time telling you about all the great features, the price and how you can finance the deal. The second talks directly to your fears. They take the time to confirm your business problems, acknowledge your fears and offer to be there holding your hand all the way. When you realize they plan to be there for you AFTER, the sale when the rubber meets the road, you finally get it.

When you look at it this way, isn’t it easy to see which seller is going to start out with the upper hand in the sales process?

However, actions speak louder than words. You must follow up your promise of partnership with actions that every G.O.A.T. seller knows by heart: the principles of being Genuine and being an Advocate for the client. When you understand this, you can use it to your advantage every single day.

We invite you to subscribe to the G.O.A.T. Selling Academy Today! Let us help you supercharge your results and your income.

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