We are all consumers at one time or another whether it’s making large purchases such as a new car, holiday, or even a house or something smaller like a TV or washing machine. We understand the process and judge who we will buy from based on the information we receive from the various vendors. It does however surprise me how we seem to forget this when selling something through our own business. What we expect when making a purchase doesn’t seem to correlate with what we think our customers expect when they are buying from us, so this begs the question….who sets their expectation?.
You may think it’s external market forces such as the economy, you may even believe to a certain extent it’s determined by your competition, but in reality the very simple answer is that you do…if you’re the seller that is. It starts with the first time you engage with the customer, this could be through your website, an advert, a mail campaign, or they just walked past your place of business, it could even be from seeing your company van. The point is it starts with one or other of your marketing efforts and from then on you will be gauged against each subsequent interaction be it a letter, email, telephone conversation or meeting.
It’s for this very reason that marketing people bang on about consistency of the message. What this means is if you sell a quality product then everything you put in front of a client must shout quality even down to how you present yourself. Your marketing material must be consistent in its look and feel and the message it delivers, this even includes your staff and company vehicles, you only have to look at recognised quality brands to see what I’m talking about. There is a popular misconception that this approach comes at a premium, but I’d argue that a good looking website costs no more than a bad one and the same goes for literature, signage letterheads etc. it’s purely a question of taking the time to get it right.
So is that all there is to it?....of course not. You need to personally engage with the customer; the old adage that people buy from people they like is most definitely true. You need to be open and honest about what you can and cannot provide and in what timeframe, most of all when you are in the position to set out what you can and can’t do you are also in that precious moment when you can set the clients expectation at a level that you know you can surpass…but to get there you’ll have to have done everything else right first…….no pressure then.