A week or so ago, my laptop computer, the one I travel with, take on all my client calls, and consider my right arm, just quit holding a charge. In an effort to get that last end-of-the-year tax write off, I quickly drove across town to the local computer store to have my laptop analyzed and assess whether it could be fixed or whether it was time for a new one.
Within two days, they called and gave me the bad news: The computer’s battery had seen the end of its useful life, and Dell was no longer making this computer. My options were to buy a third-party battery (not recommended by my computer gurus) or get a new computer (recommended by my computer gurus.) Again, if I was going to invest in new equipment, I had been advised by my accountant to do it this year. I decided to take the plunge.
I asked the nice young guy I was talking with (the computer guru) what he had available and in stock that was like my existing Dell computer. He did a little research and shared a few ideas with me, and said he had about six in stock. Great! Now, I was driving down the road while we were having this conversation. I shared with my guru that I could pretty much guarantee that I was going to buy this computer from him, but I wanted to see it before I bought it, so I asked if he could send a link.
After a long pause, he told me that it would just be better if I could come by the shop and look at it. Now, while I told him sure I would do that, I was thinking in my head, “Yeah, right. I am not driving across town to go look at a computer I could look at online.” If a young computer sales person does not even understand that there is no way their customers are driving across town to look at something they could easily look at and buy online, then just how out of touch are today’s sales professionals with their customer base?
Let’s assess this situation:
I am a customer in need of a product you sell.
I have, and have shared with you, a sense of urgency as I want to write this expense off on this year’s taxes and time is ticking away.
I have told you via telephone that I can pretty much guarantee I will buy this product and buy it from you.
All I have asked for is a link to the product, so I can see it before I purchase it.
This is a product that most people, I would guess, buy online, so you do have competition.
You, as the sales person, miss all of the above clues and make it hard to do business with you as you will only sell me the product if I drive back across town to look at it.
What is wrong with this picture? As an employee, you want to be the employee your company strives to keep. As a business owner, you need to realize you are only as strong as your weakest link. If you are not investing in your team and helping them understand how this economy has changed, and what they need to be successful and to help you be successful, then you are encouraging business to walk out your door every single day.
To succeed in today’s economy, you need to train your team on three significant changes that lead to success in the Trust & Value Economy:
- Customer is in Control – This economy is not down, it is different, radically changed, and things are never going back to the way that they were. Globalization, advancement in technology, increased competition and a lack of trust in both government and corporate business have lead to a new consumer: A consumer who realizes they are in control, they have a choice, and the product you are selling is something they can buy anywhere and at any time. They know it is your job to win their business.
- Be Easy to do Business With – The fact that what you are selling is a commodity makes how you offer it your competitive advantage. You and your team need to be easy to do business with; you need to listen to the customer and provide the service and experience they want, so going to your competition is just not an option. Don’t put up obstacles, instead, rip them down and make it so easy to do business with you that your customer wouldn’t even think about going somewhere else.
- Every Step Matters – I believe that in today’s economy consumers are so overwhelmed with choice they are almost looking for a reason to not do business with you. As consumers, we have so many options that less than positive and consistent service is how we limit our choices, narrow the field. As a business owner, that means that every step matters. In other words, every interaction your customer has with each and every member of your team needs to be just like an interaction they would have with you. Nail that and you win a customer, miss it and your customer walks.
Doing business today is not hard, it is just different.
Yes, if you are wondering, I did buy a new computer, but not from that computer store. I bought my new computer online. Not because I wanted to, in fact, I prefer to buy locally, and do when the service is better and my relationship is valued. But in this case, the owner clearly does not understand the Power of Their Weakest Link, and without an exceptional customer experience, there is no reason to choose them over their competition.
You can succeed, and win in the Trust & Value Economy, but you need to understand that you customer has changed and that change impacts your business!