My wife envies how Toyota has trained me. She always wanted me to accelerate and decelerate more slowly and take curving roads at smoother speeds. In two days, my Camry Hybrid achieved what she had struggled in vain for over 25 years to accomplish.

Toyota’s mastery of driver psychology shifted my driving behavior to boost and document its fuel economy value (and please my wife with a more comfortable ride). I’ll explain my driving experience and translate the elements of its effectiveness into terms that you can use to be more successful with your customers.

Be crystal clear about your distinctive value.

Hybrid vehicles sell based on their fuel economy. They provide a clear distinctive value proposition to potential buyers. In particular, they appeal to people who want to make a personal difference in reducing fossil fuel consumption and save on gas.

What’s your business’ distinctive value? How do you differentiate yourself from others in ways that are important to your target market? Who will find what you offer to be especially attractive? Even if you are selling a seemingly intangible product or service like legal advice, you can and must define your distinctive value in order to be successful.

Describe your value as benefits that clients or customers will gain. Provide clear documentation on why you are the best value for your targeted customers.

Identify key ways that customer behavior contributes to your value.

Wisely, Toyota recognizes that fuel economy results from not only engineering design but also fuel-efficient driving behavior. It’s not enough to have the best potential value. Drivers look for bottom-line fuel efficiency. Rapid accelerations and decelerations burn extra fuel and diminish the ability to engage the battery and electric motor to offset fuel consumption.

What role do your customers have in realizing the ultimate value of what you offer? Too often, I hear business people complain, “Well, our customers would have gotten better results if [they had used the product correctly, completed the forms they were supposed to do, etc., etc.].”

Take ownership for customers’ benefits from start to finish. If customers don’t get the benefits you sold, your business has a problem. Identify the key points where customer behavior makes a difference.

Provide direct real-time feedback.

Next to the speedometer on my hybrid, a gauge displays instantaneous fuel economy in miles per gallon. Thus, I see just what each of my accelerations and decelerations does to fuel efficiency. It’s become a game for me to test ways to safely start and stop more efficiently.

How can you let your customers know how well they are doing critical tasks while they are doing them? For example, one of the big selling points of IQMS Software’s manufacturing management system is real-time monitoring. Machine operators instantly see how efficiently they are producing a job, how much scrap they’ve left, and how much money they’ve made. (see

Don’t tell people after they’ve fallen short. Help them see how they are doing along the way so that they improve immediately.

Reinforce desired behaviors.

Total fuel efficiency depends upon not only instantaneous decisions but also overall driving patterns. As my driving becomes more fuel efficient on a particular trip, a blue glow begins to show around the edge of my speedometer. It becomes brighter as higher levels of fuel efficiency occur. This “halo” effect provides continuous reinforcement. Some current models provide an “intelligent drive coach.”

Develop ways to provide continuing feedback and positive reinforcement to your customers for desired results. They like to know how they are doing and appreciate encouragement.

Celebrate your shared success.

When I turn off my hybrid, it displays a final screen on the dashboard that shows the level of fuel economy that we’ve achieved. At 36 miles per gallon or higher, the screen reads “Excellent!”

Toyota has trained me to be a better, more fuel-efficient driver. In the process, it has encouraged me to demonstrate and document its distinctive value and tell others about it.

Help your customers prove your distinctive value. They’ll become your best sales force.


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