Ambiguous Loyalty

Clients have traditionally been cautious creatures, although of late with the increasing pressures of our economy, this once impressive vigilance is now forcing some sellers to overcome it with using interesting sales tactics.

It’s becoming increasingly popular to offer customers free trials of software and/or services as a way to help drive their business, although it should come as no surprise if our commercial veterans aren’t convinced they are the ones who really benefit. What you also risk revealing is an underhand way of gaining some sort of commitment from them all because so far, nothing else has worked and you’re getting desperate.

‘Free’ is an illusion and selling anything on this premise can prove costly to anyone who can’t see beyond the veneer. In situations where marketing becomes a wolf in sheep’s clothing, should the customer pull away from a free offer, the seller can still profit from the trail of information they leave behind. Data is, and will be for some time, the new cash in our society and can be sold or re-invested back into the company with little additional investment. Think Facebook, phone-in competitions or the various feedback buttons we happily press and you’ll get the point.

With the growing use of this strategy, clients are becoming more savvy to the what’s genuine, and what in effect is a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes. They’ve experienced it before when insuring their cars, or utilising special discount codes, and anywhere where they have to give before they get. Fill in their details, and hey presto! they’ve found themselves on random mailing lists and bombarded by hundreds of other industrial ‘wolves’.

What’s more, easy access to the web allows for only a few minutes of research that can reveal such offers were never unique to them in the first place. A few minutes more will reveal a wealth of alternatives offering benefits that are more meaningful to them. And that’s when it becomes a problem to you, because if you don’t get your pitch right the first time, they can walk on past without you even knowing why.

Now where is your data to help you drive your business? Where have they gone and what will it take to win them back?

Creating clear and honest two-way channels of communication is critical and by thinly disguising ulterior motives with what you *think* your clients want to hear could shoot you in the foot. Whether you’re a small business trying to get ahead in your early years or a large technology vendor struggling to get ahead in your industry, the challenges are pretty much the same – just at different ends of the scale.

How you overcome these challenges will ultimately be the make or break for many in the months and few years ahead.

Treat your clients and prospects with respect and you’ll get the same in return. Just stop with all the effort that has gone into making it harder than it should be to create meaningful business relationships.

Measure twice, cut once.

Susanne Dansey is the Managing Director of Purple Cow Ideas Management – an organisation that facilitates a paradigm shift in the collaborative nature of the ICT Industry. You can follow her on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook.


2 thoughts on “Ambiguous Loyalty

  1. Totally agree. Senior buyers have now a clearer line into a CFO especally in direct technology decision making and suppliers who continue to drop standard Bill of Material type proposals and expect the deal to close are deluding themselves and their pipelines. Their cheese has moved. People need to instead handover the bare bones of a business case along with their proposition and ensure they give their stakeholder the so what and what if impact of doing nothing and buying their proposition. The smart sales person knows this of course!

    • Thanks Paul and love your observation that is so important to understand (at a minimum) the bare bones of a business case. I think one of the reasons why this still doesn’t happen despite is that sales people set themselves such a small window to get the facts and deliver a proposal that they often miss out the critical factors that could set them apart.

      But you’re right, a smart sales person would know this and I’m sure they wouldn’t appreciate us giving their trade secrets away eh? 🙂

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