Preference, Prejudice, Perceptions and Your Customer

Boss Man

In “7 Success Essentials For the Black Sales Professional” (12/16) we discussed the effect of the 3P’s (preference, prejudice, and  perceptions) on your customer. The customer makes the buying choices without the effects of a statute, legislation, or public sentiment.  You can access this article in “Recent Posts” in the side column.

The 3Ps can weigh heavily on your customer relationship. In this post we will take a moment to look at how to deal  with the all-important customer angle. The customer is affected by the 3Ps, but note, you may be able to affect the outcome.

Customer Preference– I Would Like to Work With “Bob”3Ps!

Your customer prefers to be “comfortable”. The highest level of comfort involves working with someone they already know. The problem is that someone that they know might not be able to do what you can do! The “hook” for you might be your fine company, your exceptional product, or it might be you, the professional. If they can get it  from a friend, or someone they know, they will prefer to do it that way.  Overall, know why they are talking to you.  Is your product exclusive?  Is it sought after?  Is your service over and above the others?  Be honest with yourself.

Buyers have a preference because of inertia, a desire not to move or change who they are currently working with. Your job is to create awareness, a push, and an impetus for movement. You do this by creating your own advantage:

  • Product expertise–if your product or suite of products is better than anyone else, you have a definite advantage
  • Industry expertise–if your industry knowledge is stronger than others, you can gain consideration as an industry expert. You will be able to leverage this in your sales process
  • Vision–if you are a visionary, and thus able to come up with solutions over and above other sales professionals that can save the customer money, increase the buyer’s profit, and provide ease of doing business, you are at a definite advantage

Only a stubborn buyer/customer  avoids doing what is in the best interest of their organization, but they are out there.  They will know you have the best solution and it will give you an edge in the next selling cycle. There is no solace in losing an opportunity, but we are talking about reality.

Your Customers Perception of the Black Sales Professional

You might be the first Black sales professional who has called on this particular buyer.  You might be the first Black professional from a particular industry or product. You are working against the buyer’s perceptions:

  • Does this individual know what he/ she is talking about?
  • I’ve never seen a black person selling this product!
  • Will this person be here tomorrow, Are they in it for the long haul?

Here are some proven solutions:

  • Be a specialist–industry or product. Specialist  are perceived to have knowledge and staying power.
  • Be a true professional–know and follow the sales process
  • Be credible – bring references–provide credibility from other buyers.

If You Suspect Your Prospect is Racially Prejudiced

If your customer/buyer gives you signals that can only be interpreted as being prejudiced, as opposed to having a preference, you have some decisions to make. Above all, you should follow through with the sales process as a  professional. Prejudice is insidious and success in changing it is far from assured, it is actually doubtful!  It is not the fact that someone is prejudiced, it is how they use this prejudice in their decision making.  I can only suggest that you pick your prospects wisely as you can waste serious time attempting to “reform” a buyer/customer. Frankly, it is not worth it. You are not a social worker, you are a sales professional. I would suggest trading that prospect and getting a prospect that might bear fruit even if it is not as large or potentially lucrative. Cut your losses and move on!

Please tell me what you think, your comments on important.

In the next post  (12/30), we will look at the employer, the 3P’s, and the black sales professional.  Don’t miss it!

1 Comment

  1. Michael G. says:

    This is a great article!