Two purchases I made recently reminded me of an important sales dynamic.  One that even the best of sales processes can sometimes neglect.

Both purchases were things I needed at some point in time.  Yet neither purchase was one I had been looking to make right then.  There were simply other more pressing matters on my plate.

In both cases the sales came about because the two sales professionals involved entered my sphere of time and attention to relationally connect with me, and share a little of the value they often deliver.

Both were good at what they did.  Our brief conversations always felt like a walk in the woods chat, instead of the one-sided demands of a toddler.  The initial sense of distraction was replaced by a momentary respite of conversation that good sales professionals know how to precipitate.

In both cases I made a purchase. Both purchases were appropriate, timely and not superfluous to my needs.  I have no regrets about either of them.

Yet the aftertaste of the two purchases were subtly different.

One had the pleasant aftertaste of having made a good buy. 

The other had that slightly sour aftertaste of being sold to. 

Like a cup of coffee, the aftertaste has a lot to do with how much you enjoyed it and would drink it again.  In sales, this difference often comes from what happens after the sale and how the onboarding unfolds.

The one where I enjoyed buying was narrated in a way where I knew what happened next, understood the role of the sales rep, and kept my expectations aligned with the process. 

The one where I ended feeling sold to was vague with what happened next, who would be involved, and what their role would (or would not) be going forward.   

Onboarding Expectations

It is one of the final duties of a sales professional to manage the expectations about what happens next after the customer says yes. 

This is all the more important where the personality of the sales professional was instrumental in bringing about the transaction.   The stronger the personality, the more their presence needs to be gradually phased out – as opposed to it being like a hit and run transaction, or the turning of a trick.

Ignore this in your sales process and the potentially wonderful aftertaste of a good buy can turn into the bitter smack of having been sold to.  Onboarding that leaves a good aftertaste is one which continues to put the customer at the center of a well-connected team who are working together to deliver value.

Play By Play

I think a good pattern to follow might be the well-narrated play-by-play of a televised College or NFL football game.

While you can watch a game without any commentary, what the networks know works best is to have a team of commentators present in real time narrating the action.  Through them we know fully what is going on (even though we may be seeing it with our own eyes), and gain helpful insights about the why’s and how’s of all the action. 

With good commentary, you don’t notice who is talking so much as that there is a team of people working together to make your viewing experience a good one.

What’s In Your Process?

Following that metaphor, ideally your sales process does not feel like you turned on the game and then walked away.  Make sure there is a team of commentators, that still includes the sales professional to a defined extent, who are watching the same game with your customer and are there all the way to the last touchdown.

With that kind of onboarding, there is a much greater likelihood they’ll tune in and watch the next game.  And enjoy a tasty beverage that is without a bitter aftertaste.