Making Your Move: 5 Approaches That Will Ruin Your Chances with a Prospective Client (& What to Do About It)
by Cathleen Elise Rossiter
“If you respect the customer as a human being, and truly honor their right to be treated fairly and honestly, everything else is much easier” – Doug Smith –
As a consumer, I have seen a great many approaches to courting my business. In my thirty-two years in the field of Customer Service, I have seen a great many more. Most of these approaches leave me speechless – well, actually, once I pick my jaw up off the floor, they leave me in desperate need of a soapbox from which to expostulate.
Courting clients, like courting a sweetheart, is a delicate art – one that requires finesse and attention to detail. Above all courting clients requires respect. Let’s look at the five sales approaches that companies use most. These approaches top my list of the worst techniques to enticing clients to purchase your product or service for the simple reason that they are meant to provoke a quick sale with little regard for developing a true and lasting relationship with the buyer.
- Screaming and Excessive Hype (the marketing equivalent of a beat-down) – Think about your days in grammar school. Did you ever pay attention to the teachers who screamed at you or spent the class time pounding the information into your brain? By the end of class, your brain was suffering from an intellectual concussion, swelling beyond the confines of your skull, numb from the pain of the beating. You hated that class and the teacher who inflicted the suffering. As a business owner, what would make your potential clients feel any differently about you, or what you offer, if you approach the sale with this Old School Teaching mentality?
Patronizing or Belittling those without your product or service – This tactic always reminds me of the bully who tries to make himself or herself look better or feel important by talking down to or making fun of those they deem vulnerable. To those with this mentality, work at making the vulnerable feel more so, thereby in acute need of the bully’s services. Again, the victim resents the bully, continually looking for ways to avoid him or her and get away as soon as possible. How loyal will any clients be to your company and product who are gained by being bullied into buying?
Begging or Desperation – This one should be obvious yet I see far too many business owners resorting to this approach. Think of all the scenarios in which you encounter people begging something from you – a c0-worker for gas money/lunch money/a date, an irresponsible neighbor for another night of babysitting to go clubbing, a stranger on the street for a handout, a friend’s brother for a sympathy sale of the steak knives he peddles door-to-door. Unless you are Mother Theresa or Princess Diana, your instinctual response is to runaway as fast and as far as possible. Sometimes both parties are uncomfortable with the situation. Oftentimes only the person of whom the resources are requested is the one feeling awkward, cornered, trapped, helpless. Not only does this approach set skin to crawling, as a business owner, it eradicates all credibility and professionalism, labeling you and your company as incompetent and clueless.
Taking – This one is particularly irksome to me, as a consumer and a business owner because it leaves me feeling used and abused. The most prevalent form of this approach is the misused automated e-mail and newsletter. I receive endless e-mails filled with sales pitches faintly disguised as friendly, personal notes to me intended to solve my problems (or in Office Speak, to add value to my life). The only thing these e-mails do is to w.a.s.t.e. m.y. t.i.m.e. period. If someone is bold enough to blatantly disrespect me by bloating my inbox with demands for me to “Buy Now” because “This Limited Time Offer” “Ends TONIGHT” so “Don’t (be a loser and) Miss Out”, I have no qualms about filtering these e-mails directly to the trash where they belong.
Elitism or Discounting/Dismissing/Judging a potential client by appearances – I am always reminded of the scene in the movie Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts’ character goes shopping, the classic example of what not to do. Watch the clip. It speaks for itself.
If you employ any of these tactics, you may be interested to know that:
- 30 % of your business’ success lies in the success of your relationships with your clients.
- It costs more than seven times as much to attract a new client than it does to keep a current client.
- There is a significant difference in the lifetime value of your Average customers and your Above Average Customers. [This article will enlighten you. Make certain that you are sitting down, as I know you will be quite surprised.]
By relying on The Dreaded Five, as I like to call them, you literally are reaching into your corporate coffers and handing wads of cash to your competitors. If you want to eliminate the extra stress of having to slave away constantly for little return, you need to look at the client acquisition process differently. The best way I have found to do this is by mastering The 3 Cs of Superior Client Relations – Consciousness, Compassion, and Communication.
Taking note of the core element that each of The Dreaded Five have in common is the complete lack of respect for the potential client as a human being. People who are drawn to these approaches generally view their audience as Targets, Spend, Prospects – all impersonal terms, terms for things and theories.
Removing the person from the message is the same as trying to talk to a cement block. Cement blocks have no need of what you offer.
- Rather than screaming sales messages at your audience, try starting a conversation with them and listening to what they say.
- Rather than talking down to your audience as if they are morons or three-year-olds, try talking with them as respected members of the community, as adults with a different point of view.
- Rather than begging anyone and everyone for business, try focusing on educating those who would most benefit from your product or service about the pieces of the puzzle that they are missing and what they are missing out on by not having these pieces.
- Rather than constantly demanding something from your potential clients, try giving with not thought to what you will receive in return.
This month, take stock of your sales approaches. What type of relationship with your would-be clients are you setting up with these approaches? Are you creating relationships filled with apprehension and animosity that won’t last long, or are you initiating nurturing relationships that will last far into the future? The next time you make your move, if you approach it properly, you will be assured of a second look, a date with your ideal client, because your potential client will know that you are in it for the long haul.