By Keith Center
We need to ask ourselves how the customer is experiencing our products and services. OEM’s go to great lengths to maintain a consistent brand so that they are recognized in the marketplace, but what about VAR’s? If all your competitors sell the same things that you do, then how do you set yourself apart?
Michael Gerber, in his book The E-Myth Revisited, talks about how he went to a barber and had a wonderful experience the first time. The next time it was different. The time after that it was different again. In the end he stopped going because the experience was so unpredictable.
His point was that if a customer has a consistent, positive experience they will keep coming back. That’s why franchises work. And that’s why we must have a sales process that ensures a predictable, positive experience for the customer every time.
In a previous article, Super Simple Selling, Sales Performance Tools, I described the sales pipeline where there were multiple phases that lead to sale. Each phase, including after the sale, must deliver the same high quality experience. By tracking the conversion from one phase to the next we can see where our process can stand some improvement. Chances are that there is some inconsistency between phases that amplifies the prospects natural resistance to buying.
We need to always look our best. It does not have to be a suit, it could be a uniform. One of the attendees at my workshop ran a plumbing business. He told me that he issued white uniforms to stand out from his competition because no one in the plumbing business wore white uniforms.
We should always strive to have our company to have a consistent brand so that the customer has a consistent experience from all contacts with our company. Just like Jan Carlzon discovered in Moments of Truth, that brand should encompass everything that touches the customer. Especially others within the organization that have direct, and indirect, contact with the customer.
One of my clients has a remarkable receptionist. She answers the phone in the same professional manner every time. At one point she was going through an ugly divorce and her personal life was in the tank, but she answered the phone the same positive way every time. A cheery voice answering the phone is a simple thing, but it seems to be so rare and can set your company apart.
How about receivables? If a receivables clerk calls a client who has an outstanding invoice with a little too much assertiveness in their voice, you can lose the client. It could be your largest client that has one small invoice, a relatively insignificant amount, that has been overlooked, or they may have a genuine concern.
Some VAR’s have the policy that only the relationship manager, the Client Executive, can contact the customer about receivables in order to maintain the positive nature of the relationship, and account control.
The point is, all contacts with the customer are important and can set you apart for positive, or negative purposes.
It could be our website, stationery and business card, or seminar presentations and handouts. Also follow up cards that are sent out to maintain contact with the customer. But the customer experience must be consistently positive.
Copyright © 2009 Keith Center