Much of what we learned as kids growing up can be used to run a successful small business if we take the time to reflect back on those simple life lessons. Let’s take a look at one lesson in particular that all of our parents tried to instill in us, and see if we apply it, how each area of our business will be all that much stronger.
The lesson is a simple one – be helpful.
We’ve all had the experience of dealing with a salesperson who has their own interests ahead of the customer. They are easy to pick out. What would happen to the quality of the sales process and customer satisfaction if your sales team focused solely on helping the customer, regardless of whether or not your business solution was the right one? For lots of salespeople this would be a huge paradigm shift and one that not a lot are wiling to make.
So what is the upside? Happier customers, more repeat business, more referrals and the ability to identify new opportunities by paying attention to the cusomter needs that you can’t currently help with and figuring out how you can be helpful. By focusing completely on your customer’s needs, even if your business can’t currently fulfill that need, you’ll be in a much better position to identify what new products or services you can offer to fill those needs.
Approaching the sales process from this perspective immediately moves you from being perceived as a sales person to a consultant, and the ensuing discussion between your team and the customer will be much more productive from everyone’s perspective.
This business function is tailor made for putting your business in a position to be helpful. Hopefully being helpful is already the mantra for your customer service team. Whether the customer service team is you, or you have a separate department to handle customer issues, focusing on being helpful here will clearly lead to happier customers, more repeat purchases, more referrrals and an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of your customer.
What if you approached customer service as a marketing investment rather than a fixed expense? Making that weekend service call, paying for the overnight express shipping and waiving that late fee are no longer expenses but rather an opportunity to generate satisfied customers, and better yet raving fans. Investments like these often have immeasurable ROI, especially in a social networked world where a single customer with a large online social sphere can have a real impact to the bottom line, positive or negative.
How does your marketing message change if your intent is only to be helpful? You’ll likely:
- Stop talking AT your customers in your advertising and instead find a way to LISTEN and ask them what their business problems are and how they would like to be helped
- Share information that educates them on solutions to their problems, and how your product fits in that solution
- Learn that having to convince a prospect to buy is not as effective and costs more than developing a sales process in which the customer is convincing you why they need your product or service
Hopefully you are seeing a theme here. No matter what business function we are discussing, having a focus on how to help the customer will yield you invaluable information on your customer, what they need to succeed, and how you can position your business to be the hero that provides the products and services they crave.
This mindset can’t only apply to your management team. In fact it’s more effective if your front-line employees embrace the “be helpful” attitude so they can identify opportunities while they are interacting with your customers. Be sure that you give your employees the opportunity to do first hand product research with your customers.
What are we missing here? In what other areas of your business do you think following this simple rule wiould benefit your business?
Photo credit to Sharat Ganapat