What one truck’s dangerous driving taught me about sales strategy

I’m very lucky to have never been involved in a car accident; I take pride in this record and the safe way in which I handle my car. I’ve had a few moments where I’ve been put at risk by other people’s driving, though – I think we can all relate to that. The most significant time this has ever happened to me was when a truck pulled out in front of my car without indicating while we were both travelling down a main road. Braking suddenly, I swerved out of the way and mentally made a note of the truck’s features.

Three years later, do you want to know what I remember about that vehicle? I can’t remember the make. I can’t remember the model. I can’t even remember the license plate. What I can remember is the bright, well-known store logo that was emblazoned across its sides and back door.

To this day, I refuse to buy anything from this store. All anyone has to do is mention its name and I can feel my nose start to wrinkle and my eyes prepare to roll. My friends know not to mention whether they bought anything from this store in front of me, so accustomed are they to my ranting about the extortionate prices and poor refund policy.

The sad thing is: its prices aren’t extortionate and its refund policy is the same as its competitors. The only thing I have against this store is that one member of staff made me feel unsafe while driving my car. My emotive response to this experience is so strong (find more about emotive decision making in our next blog coming soon), that I will still travel out of my way or pay above the odds to shop with a competitor, rather than line the pockets of the truck’s employing organization.

I wonder whether the safe driving of the delivery employees was part of the organization in question’s sales and marketing strategy? I wonder whether they have a clue that somewhere out there, tearing around the country’s roads, is one of their most influential salesmen?

It’s as I ponder my prejudice against this store that I realise that selling isn’t just about a customer’s experience at the point of sale. An organization can sell to me every single time I come into contact with its brand - whether this is a delivery truck, a store employee, customer services, post-sales support or even my experience of someone on the street who’s not yet taken their store name-badge off.

An organization’s brand is powerful, but limited. It can only set up the anticipation of value I might expect as a customer. True value, as defined by me the customer, is determined by every single experience I have while interacting with the organization. 

What can companies learn from this? If attaining and retaining my custom isn’t just about my experience at the point of sale, then your sales employees don’t just work in sales. Your salespeople are the customer experience employees that can empathise with me when I have a problem. Your salespeople are the post-sales team that make me feel valued and cared for as an individual. Your salespeople are the employees in the store uniform that help a tired new mother lift her baby’s stroller onto the bus while on their way home from a shift in store. Your salespeople are the employees checking the quality of your product, ensuring that I will be delighted with the final iteration. Your salespeople are the drivers that help me feel safe on the roads.

Our new book, Selling your value proposition: how to transform your business into a selling organization, focuses on supporting organizations in understanding their true value proposition as defined by the customer and how to then use this as a blueprint for your business’s sales strategy.

Selling your value proposition is available online from all major retailers and - for a limited time only - our Publisher, KoganPage, is offering a 20% discount to those who go to koganpage.com/syvp and enter code SYVP.

You can also download a free chapter of our book here, or keep up to date with our thought leadership by following @SYValueProp and @Futurecurve on Twitter.