A new client was explaining how customer-centric his luxury brand is, yet customers, when queried, weren’t exactly feeling the love – nor selecting his hotel.

Me: “Are you shopping your people?”

Him: “Yes, of course. Shop scores are good but conversion isn’t.”

Me: “What’s the first question they’re being told to ask?”

Him: “Well, after a bit of rapport building, they’re required to ask ‘What is your meeting date? and How many rooms will be required?'”

Me: “And after that, what do they ask?”

Him: “More details about their event and then of course, ‘Who else are you considering for this opportunity?’ because we need to know if they’re actually qualified.”

Me: “Do they need to ask those questions in that order to get a great shop score? When do they ask about the purpose of the meeting or what’s the one most important factor to a great meeting or what persuaded them to look at new venues?”

Him: “Yes, in that order for the shop, and they ask those other questions after they find out if the date is available. Really. We get so many inquiries but most don’t fit our demographic so we’re saving them time and of course, our time too.”

Me: Yes, and you mentioned they aren’t closing the business that does fit your key demographic. So if they ask those questions in that order, how exactly is that customer-centric?”

Here is the answer: It isn’t! Yes, of course, it can save the buyer time if you disqualify them but is that really what you want to do?

Research reported in The Top-Performing Sales Organization indicates 53% of sales people do not agree their sales process is customer-focused, yet each of their respective companies makes the claim.

Often the shop is the culprit. It forces transactional thinking and a sales process focus instead of building trust and credibility with a customer-facing focus.

And sales people (rightfully) hate the shop!

What buyers need, and sales professionals want, is show authentic care. Questions – customer-centric questions! – build trust and enable the best options for the buyer.

Dump your mystery shop if you’re using an old-school shop that focuses on sales process and not the buying experience.

Articulate care and value in every communication to move the needle forward and create raving fans.