Alfonso De Los Ríos
Founder & CEO
Startup Contributor

Listen, Learn, Improve: The Recipe for Sales Success

By Alfonso de los Ríos | Fri, 01/22/2021 - 13:18

Some years ago, there was a popular rumor that Steve Jobs’ success came because he created his products without listening to his audience, because he thought he knew his customers’ needs better than they did. Those who inferred that message did not see all the resources Apple invested in the customer experience, designing with their benefits in mind.

Believing that we could guess our potential customers’ wishes did a great deal of damage to the entrepreneurial ecosystem, with the failed launch of thousands of products and services that no one needed (or wanted).

When you are in love with your value proposition and want to do everything to make it a successful reality, it is easy to focus on product development and ignore the people you are targeting. At the beginning of nowports, I decided not to get involved in sales, leaving the creation of the process to colleagues Maxi and Gil.

Sales often get a bad reputation. If you don’t work in the area, what do you imagine when you think of a salesperson? It is probably the stereotype of the used-car salesman: a man who hides all the product flaws from his customers to make money. But deceiving your clients results in a win-lose relationship with the customer, a stereotype far removed from the successful salesperson’s reality.

Many entrepreneurs start with the intention of transforming our industry for the better, taking existing tools or concepts and offering something new that solves problems that are not being addressed enough or appropriately.

For nowports, this means applying technology, such as artificial intelligence to process data, to the world of logistics. We want to help our clients in their daily activities and with their digital transformation. We do not want to deceive them with misleading ideas.

Since our first year, we have had a Customer Success area with two key objectives. First, to ensure that the client understands everything they can do within the platform, including creating automatic reports and tracking their shipments. Second, our collaborators maintain constant communication with our clients to understand what they like and how we can improve.

The restrictions caused by the COVID-19 contingency impacted us all. With so many sudden changes, from remote work, flight and shipment cancellations to factory closures required by regulations, I knew it was essential to show empathy and reach out to our customers to understand their challenges. After talking to them almost daily for weeks, I found that their feedback could improve our service but it also changed our view of sales.

A stable sales relationship consists of creating customized solutions to your clients’ needs, in which both support each other to improve every day. Even when two clients have access to the same product (in our case, the digital platform), they can benefit more from different features.

We train our salespeople with the philosophy of understanding and listening to our potential customers, quickly answering their questions and giving them valuable material that helps them grow as professionals, even when they are not yet our customers. The values of both companies have to be aligned to reach a healthy agreement.

In the case of products or services aimed at other companies (B2B), a more rational approach to benefits is required, either in money or in time. More than the freight forwarder service at nowports, we create solutions to help our clients with their routine tasks.

Related to this is the “Aftermarket Services” that Deloitte proposed in its “Insights: transforming your traditional sales of products or services into solutions with service level agreements (SLAs).” SLAs relieve customers of the worry that the product they purchased will eventually break down or become obsolete and require an additional fee. In turn, companies are guaranteed a stable income.

Transparency is a trust-building value, another critical element for strong sales relationships. At all stages, we show our clients and prospects the reasons behind fees and inform them in advance of unforeseen charges.

We also design our solutions to enforce our clients’ autonomy. In other words, we want them to obtain the information they require through the platform without having to contact a nowports agent. We hope that this will strengthen their logistics teams, giving them resources for more informed decision-making in their companies.

Today, our Customer Success team is stronger than ever. In addition to maintaining communication and having more precise methods to measure customer satisfaction, the team brings development areas, such as tech, closer to customers to understand the problems first-hand and consider them when developing new features or fixing old ones.

However, a customer-based approach does not mean that we make the decisions for your company. If so, we could create a product or service that already exists and fall into a very competitive market, in which the priority is low prices.

Listening to your clients is an integral part of any venture in all its stages. It helps us in the continuous improvement of our product or service and its positioning in the market. At nowports, we are getting closer and closer to being an extension of our clients’ logistics teams.

Photo by:   Alfonso de los Ríos