Remember the perspective that your client shared with you last week? He was honest and to-the-point:
“I never answer my phone when I know it’s a salesperson calling.”
“When I see a flyer from a vendor on my desk it goes right in to the trash.”
“When I see an email from a salesperson that I don’t know I immediately delete it.”
“I don’t need a meeting that lasts more than 15 minutes.”
“I’ve told “Sarah” at the front desk not to schedule any meetings with salespeople unless I approve it first. Other than that I’m always ‘busy.'”
“I do most of my ordering on-line these days because it’s so much easier.”
Don’t take the bluntness personally. The perspective is priceless. Instead, do your job in such a way that you generate high output results in the most concentrated amount of time. Always remember that output and activities are two very different things. Your client’s opinions are an indictment of sales people who have forgotten that distinction. The question is: how can you turn these critiques to your advantage? A couple suggestions:
- The customer experience is your new competitive advantage. Most sales reps use a meeting as a delivery system instead of a design system. Design your meetings using four experience modalities: educate your client, improve his output capabilities, show your client how you can help him escape specific problems, and focus on the esthetics that align with your value proposition.
- Your brand of service should include an element of scarcity. The only way to decommoditize your service is to provide your client with training and that he’s absolutely not getting from your competition. If you consistently provide high-value content combined with an element of scarcity then you’ll have an easier time generating leverage.
- Identify and remove the friction. On-line ordering platforms are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the future of sales and service. In the next 2-3 years you’ll be competing against AI that will be capable of providing many of the basic “housekeeping” functions that many sales reps rely on to anchor their sales calls. It’ll be very good at this. That means you (and your entire organization) have to relentlessly ask: “How can we be easier to do business with?” and Simple service secures sales and loyalty.
The advantage you’re looking for is embedded in your client’s remarks. Start by disavowing “acceptable” service or merely functional service that can be automated at scale. Right now you have the luxury of deciding to provide immersive customer experiences, brand scarcity, and frictionless service. For the time being these are choices that you can make freely. They won’t be for long.
Your friend, Matt