Few of us are lucky enough to have customers beating our doors down to buy from us. There's always some kind of a sales journey, a conversion process, objections to be overcome. Recent discussions on the theme of reluctant purchasers have driven home the importance of really 'getting' your customers (and not just the reluctant ones) if you want to achieve any kind of long-lasting engagement with them.
So how do you 'get' your customers? - A good starting point is to talk to them:
1. What Customers Want
In fact its not just what your customers want, but also what they need. The two are rarely interchangeable, and the better you can serve both perspectives the more sustainable your relationship with your customers will be.
1. Don't assume.
2. Ask your customers what they want.
3. Ask them how they use your product/services and ascertain what they need.
4. Ask them what else they'd like your product/services to do for them in an ideal world.
2. Try the Customer's Perspective.
Genuine empathy is critical, and comes across in how you describe the benefits of your product/services, the steps (hoops?) you ask your customers to go through to deal with you, and the support they receive from you before and after purchase.
There's an increasing recognition of the importance of emotional connections in the B2B as well as the B2C space. If you can speak the customer's language, and present products and services that are as personalised and ready and easy to use as possible, then you are more likely to have customers viewing the experience as a relationship rather than just a series of transactions. This makes them more likely to come back for more, and to recommend you to others.
3. Deliver, Deliver, Deliver!
But all of this is just marketing puff if you don't or can't drive it through to fulfilment. And, whilst the 'deliver' mantra should be a statement of the obvious, it's the part that seems to be most often missed. In fairness it's also the toughest to do, as it usually requires investment and even fundamental redesign of products or services or fulfilment. It also needs genuine buy-in and alignment throughout the business - for example ensuring Marketing and Production have the same values and customer outcomes in mind.
It can be tough driving this kind of change through the business. However, be the first to get it right in your field (and few businesses really have so far) and you will be visibly different from your competition, and lead the way to:
- More loyal customers,
- Stronger brand value,
- Better word-of-mouth recommendation,
- Higher staff satisfaction & improved productivity.
Now that's surely worth getting.
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By Kevin Sheldrake
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