Selling Past the Customer

by TedV

Quite Often the Person Who Buys is Not the Sole Benefactor of Your Product

“Selling Past the Customer” is a concept that is almost impossible to quantify, and yet when you sell beyond your customers it can create a significant benefit in the minds of the purchasers or of the buying committees. It is an advanced Relevance Marketing technique.

The idea is that the people buying from you have their own customers, clients, constituents, family members or friends who will also benefit from the purchase by your direct customer.

Selling Past Your Customer

Let’s look at real examples of selling past your prospect. (I’ll use selling products in my examples, but this applies to services as well.)

A B2C Example - If you sell kitchen appliances, you see people enter your store with the idea of buying the most inexpensive refrigerator, stove, etc. that meets their needs. To sell a more costly model, you need to help your customer envision the rest of the family enjoying the more advanced features on the higher priced units.

A B2B example - If you call on maintenance managers in a factory, don’t just sell them the specifics of why they will benefit from working with you. Also sell the concept that they will have happier operations and production departments because of the reduced down time.

A More Detailed Illustration of This Concept:

There are a huge number of companies that sell complex and heavy equipment that needs to be repaired in place and not carried into the service department. These companies need field service forces that are difficult to manage efficiently. The goal is that these field service departments would be profit centers, not a cost of doing business.

Here is a list of service related assets such companies needs to manage:

Spare parts in the service department
Spare parts stocked in the repair vehicles
Repair personnel in the field
Advisory repair specialists in the service department
Skill sets for each repair person
Service life, maintenance and fuel usage of the repair vehicles
Details of any existing service contracts

I make no claims that this is a complete list but these should be the major factors in most situations.

Now, if you sold field service management software you could make a quantifiable ROI based on reduced parts inventory, increased efficiencies of the repair techs in the field, reduced mileage on the repair vehicles, and etc.

However, if the decision makers for the service department can imagine their customers being delighted because equipment is fixed faster and more often done right the first time, then the decision makers for the software acquisition will understand and believe in a cost justification that is powerful yet subjective.

“Mr. Service Manager, try to imagine a client of your department calling in to tell your president just how wonderful it is that your repair reps arrive much faster and their equipment is back in service much quicker.”

Simplistically expressed, but when that occurs, the ROI for field service management software is greatly enhanced.

More Thoughts on B2B and B2C Selling Beyond the Client

Almost all Business-2-Business purchases are made to help the buying customers eventually sell something to their customers. This idea of “selling past your customer” should be considered at all milestones in every sales campaign in B2B. It is very important to remember this concept whenever you ask questions and when you are presenting any primary benefits messages.

In Business-2-Consumer there are two common places where selling past your customers rarely works, and they are at opposite ends of the purchase pricing spectrum. 1) On lower priced consumer products buyers rarely think beyond their own use or consumption. 2) On very high end, luxury products such as $100,000+ cars and $20,000+ wrist watches, the buyers who can afford such lavish items hardly ever care about how others will benefit from their purchase – envy, yes; benefit, no. After all, no one needs a $69,500.00 Patek Philippe Nautilus watch. They just want one.


Selling Past Your Customer requires critical thinking on your part, careful questioning, and a bit of imagination to develop how to present such ideas. However, this concept can be an important factor to tip the purchasing decision in your direction.

I have used face-to-face selling as my over all method to explain this concept. However, this approach can be applied to all efforts at being relevant in your marketing. It can enhance direct mail if you have a well-defined customer database, and you can use it on web pages that are segmented by user types. And the places for application do not end there.


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Ted Vinzani is a marketing, business development, and sales consultant who advises, speaks, and writes on Relevance Marketing.

Follow Ted’s Monday through Friday marketing/sales/social media stream on Twitter at@TedVinzani.

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