Friday, April 3, 2015

Telling a customer "You're Fired"

Having customers is way overrated.  Inevitably, the more customers you have, the more headaches, complaints, and problems you have to deal with. It's a fact of business life.

It really is not worth it.  So, I wholeheartedly recommend firing them all.

But before you trip down that path of financial ruin... I first recommend that you replace them with clients.

Here’s the difference:

Customer: –noun: a person who purchases goods or services from another; buyer; patron.

Client: –noun: a person or group that is under the care, watch, and protection of a professional.

Customers are ordinary.  Every business has customers. But...only professionals have clients.  So be a damned professional!

Your clients should feel as if you are always watching out for their best interest – and you should be.

It means you won’t sell a product/service to a client just because they think it’s the best solution to their problem.  No, remember they are under your care, watch, and protection, so you must advise them on what really is the best product/service based on their “real” problem.

The shift from customers to clients is really about trust.  Getting your customers to transition to clients isn’t difficult, but it takes time.  If you’ve been treating them as customers, then of course they are acting like customers.

So, what can you do?  I’m glad you asked.  There are three steps to help you lead your customers through the transition:

1.) Become Second – remember, it’s about clients, not about you.  Rather like a marriage...your purpose and passion should be to serve your clients.  Remind yourself of this before, during, and after interactions with clients.

2.) Build Trust – put your clients’ true needs first.  Don’t sell them something they don’t need just because you can.  Discover their needs and offer solutions based on those needs.

3.) Begin a Relationship – make the interaction more of a two-way street.  Express sincere interest in your clients and their needs, desires and goals.  Provide them with ideas, tools, resources, products, and services to help them solve their problems and reach their goals.

Now, if you do this right, you will hopefully end up with fewer clients that you ever had customers. But these fewer clients make it easier to take care of their needs, and as a result, they take car of your needs (i.e. revenue!).

“A merchant who approaches business with the idea of serving the public well has nothing to fear from the competition.“ James Cash Penney – Founder of JC Penney (tell that to Ron Johnson).

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Making Hay While the Sun Shines...

Growing up in the Deep South, one is keenly aware of the agricultural language bandied about in conversation. "...til the cows come home" or "come home to roost" or my personal favorite "...happier than a dead pig in the sunshine" all bring to mind a bucolic connection to the land.

But the one that is most appropriate, at least now, is "make hay while the sun shines." For farmers, when the hay was dry and there was no forecast for rain, it was everyone to the fields to cut, bale and store hay. If it got wet in the process, the bale would mold, and the cows and horses would either refuse it, or eat it and get sick. Neither was desirable.

For us, here at the bastion of laziness known as Smoke Alarm Media, we have been given a robust crop and a few sunny days. So everyone is scurrying to get things done. It's rather exciting. Interestingly, it hasn't been mentioned to anyone that we need to do this. Something is just stirring in the blood. Packages sent, contracts signed and projects started...the pace is almost frightening. But we are seeing the fruits of the labour, and perhaps a sea change is taking place. Even I am personally forgoing my morning Bloody Mary to spend that time on pressing matters o' business. Don't fear, I am uncorking a lovely Pinot Grigio for lunch...thank you for your concern.

Back to the fields, dear friends...