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Martin Wales

Customer Catcher™

BY MARTIN WALES


[October 2, 2000]

When You Can’t Get “No Respect,” Improve Your Marketing

Why aren't more prospects calling you for information? Why aren't customers willing to sign extended service contracts? Why aren't your current clients interested in increasing your relationship or buying more from you? Why do customers haggle over price so much? Those are common questions... and there may be a single answer you've overlooked. Maybe your prospects and customers don’t respect you enough.

If you win their respect, the business process becomes smoother. Respect can facilitate easier sales processes, larger purchases, more frequent transactions, less intense negotiations, and longer, more profitable relationships. In addition, respect leads to more customer referrals, recognition as a leading authority with great expertise, and an emotional investment in your brand by your customers.

Make sure your marketing is building respect before and after the first sale. Marketing is largely about communicating with and educating your prospects, customers, and clients in order to influence them to take action. The action you want to influence is, obviously, a purchase.

Market to prospects so that they explicitly understand your product is the solution to their problems. Most companies understand the importance of this level of marketing. The next level is less obvious and, therefore, not as widely practiced: You want to develop an almost magical relationship where customers happily pay you whatever you charge because they do respect what you do for them. If customers don’t respect what your product or services does, or its value, they simply won't buy it.

Why Prospects Or Customers Don’t Respect You
1. They don’t immediately understand the value of what you do.
You may not be clearly communicating the unique benefits or advantages of your product in your advertising and marketing communications. Businesses often fall into the trap of focusing on what their company does, rather than what the client experiences after installing the product.

2. The product you're selling solves a problem your customers don't have.
Some clients aren’t concerned about the problem your product solves -- or the problem may not even be on their radar screen. For example, if customers aren’t fully utilizing the Internet for basic surfing, they aren’t worried about data switching, bandwidth hardware, or Web callback buttons. You haven't provided them with a stimulating reason to act. If the problem you aim to fix isn't causing them much discomfort, then the customer isn't making your sales presentation a priority in their day.

3. They have their own ideas based on previous experience.
Prospects may be familiar with cheaper solutions, maybe of lesser quality than yours. If prospects have been contacted by competitors prior to hearing from you, they may have preconceived notions (or even incorrect information) about what your product can or can't do. If someone else has promised to help them for less, why wouldn’t they believe them? In this situation, winning a prospect's respect is paramount to getting the business.

4. Customers don’t recognize the effort involved in building your technology.
If I tell you my software cost $20,000, you just have a price in front of you. If I explain that it took more than fifty programmers working over three years to develop my software -- and that you would have to invest over $3 million to replicate it yourself -- then you begin to respect the software solution and my pricing.

5. Customers forget how bad it used to be.
Once customers have a product or use a service for a certain amount of time, they begin to take it for granted and forget what pain they suffered in the past. Even worse, new employees never knew how terrible it ever was, say, to route international VoIP calls through your server network. This leads to a lack of respect. This is evident when you have to haggle over software upgrades, service contracts, or software support.

Earn The Respect You Deserve
Now that I have mentioned a few of the reasons for a lack of respect, let’s look at what you can do to win some respect and decrease that loss of gratitude amongst your current customers:

1. Respect yourself.
Many companies underestimate their accomplishments in overcoming technical and operational problems. Remember where your business was when it first started and how far you’ve come. Recognize all that you have had to endure just to get to a prototype. Communicate this successful struggle to your prospects and customers.

2. Quantify what was involved in producing your product or service.
Make a list of every detail required to create your product or deliver your service so customers know exactly what is involved. How much did you invest in research and development? How many people did you employ at what level of education? How many years of combined experience did they have? How much money and emotion was invested in the product that was never passed on to the customer? How much did it cost just for the testing phase, and who was involved? What would it cost customers to duplicate your process?

3. Commit to a fair price.
Sometimes, in the desire to make a sale we accept a lower valuation of our service by the prospect. You must commit to and remain confident in your pricing, as long as it is fair, and be willing to walk away from the table. Be ready to show your clients how much you’re saving them in money and headaches. Make comparisons. A simplistic example would be, “What did you pay for a computer with 100 MB memory 15 years ago versus what you pay for 30 GB today?” Some negotiation is always acceptable and expected, but you’re entitled to a fair profit.

4. Don’t stop communicating with, educating, and reminding your customers about your company and the industry you're in.
You must continually educate prospects and customers about the great value of your products or services, and the number of problems it solves for them. Remind them more often exactly what you continue to do for them. Gently evoke memories of what their business was like in the past. Remember telex machines? Remember the size of the first computers and cellular phones? Look how small CompactPCI cards are now.

5. Seek more recognition in your industry.
Apply for awards from various industry associations, or even local trade boards or commerce departments. Make sure you utilize an effective public relations campaign and maintain regular contact with the industry press. We tend to respect people and companies that are publicly recognized by others for their innovation or leadership. Be proud of it. Then, tell your customers and prospects about your accomplishments to score more points on the respect scale.

When you prove that you have earned their respect, then the relationships you build with prospects and customers will be stronger. They will last longer and weather stressful times better if something does go wrong. It is easy to lose respect for a company or a service. As marketers, we have to work against that and constantly build respect back up. Make sure you use every communication to inspire respect. Get your prospects' and customers' focus where you want it.

In parting, think, for example, about the prevalent disrespect for the airline industry. When was the last time you complained? Maybe you were delayed an hour. All I say is, “Wonder how long it took to get 100 people from New York to Dallas by stage coach?” Now, the airline has my respect again.

Martin Wales is the eFounder and Chief Catcher at Customer Catcher.com. He welcomes your e-mail at martin@customercatcher.com. He is a technology-marketing specialist, speaker, and facilitator focused on maximum results with minimal risk using your existing resources.


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