Making Your Move: 5 Approaches That Will Ruin Your Chances with a Prospective Client (& What to Do About It)

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 –

 465352043As 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.

  1. 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?
  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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.  

  5. 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.

 

2016 Copyright - Cathleen Elise

The Unseen Value of Superior Client Relations

The Unseen Value of Superior Client Relationships

By Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS

How often, as a client, have you experienced the sense of disconnection with the particular company you happen to be dealing with at a particular moment? How often do you become frustrated when you just can’t seem to get the company’s representative to deal with you on a personal level, to break away from the official script and listen to what you are asking? How often, as a business owner, do you apply these experiences to the way your company provides service to its clients? 

Man Using Credit Card Online

More times than I care to mention, I have been in the same position and experienced the same frustrations. Oftentimes I just bear it (grinning never entering into the equation) thinking that there is no point in taking my business elsewhere as “they’re all the same”, biding my time until someone else comes along with a better offer that will make the lousy treatment somewhat worthwhile.

I am no shrinking violet, however. I have no qualms about taking my business to a competitor who will treat me properly; with the respect I deserve (reporting my dissatisfaction to the Better Business Bureau, et al). I am the client who silently slips away, because experience has taught me that:

if someone will not listen when they have my attention, they will not listen when they’ve lost it. A company that will not treat me with the respect I deserve 1.) will not notice that I have taken my business elsewhere, and 2.) will not care why.

Experiences such as these have made me keenly aware of the level of service I provide to everyone I meet. As business owners, it is ever more critical to pay close attention to the service provided by one’s company.  It is critical that, as business owners, we continually place ourselves in the shoes of our clients in order to keep a loyal client base by paying attention to, and meeting, their individual needs. As noted in an article in Spoken Communication (http://blog.spoken.com/2010/10/cost-of-acquiring-a-new-customer-6-to-7-times-more-than-keeping-exisiting.html), the financial benefits alone are incentive enough to build strong, working relationships with each client. The most staggering statistic of the bunch was the phenomenal increase in profits that come from increasing client retention by as little as five percent – a five to ninety-five percent increase in profits.

According to the article referenced above, it costs up to seven times more to attract a new client than it does simply to hold onto a current client. Client Acquisition Cost = Total Acquisition Expenses /Total New Clients. In order for you to get a clear picture of how valuable your current clients are to you, look at your Client Acquisition Costs in relation to how much revenue each new client brings in and how long new clients generally stay with your company. Now compare that to the revenue your existing clients bring in (not forgetting the value of their Word of Mouth advertising and referrals) as well as their longevity with your company and the amount of money spent on retaining them. In today’s economic environment, how much sense does it make to throw money out the window chasing possibilities rather than keeping the same money in the bank maintaining tangible assets? This is not to say that attracting new clients is unnecessary, as that would be foolish. This is merely to demonstrate how easy it is to overlook the true value of the clients your company has already acquired. Look at your own numbers  and see how much you could actually be doing to build your business with the savings.

A key to superior client relationships is the motivation behind the relationship. If the motivation is strictly financial (and, clearly, this is a strong motivator), the authenticity of the relationship will be lost and the lack thereof will be immediately noticeable to one’s clients. Another critical factor in establishing and maintaining superior client relationships is that the motivation, desire, and initiative in doing so comes from the very heights of the company and filters down through every person in every department.  In this way, the authenticity of the relationship is maintained at every point of contact, building confidence and trust with each client. Confidence and trust are key components of client loyalty, which as we have just learned, is a truly valuable asset.

Sit. Stay. Fetch. Making Clients Beg for Treats

Dog in Meadow

Sit. Stay. Fetch. Making Clients Beg for Treats

By Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS

“It is a truism to say that the dog is largely what his master makes of him: he can be savage and dangerous, untrustworthy, cringing and fearful; or he can be faithful and loyal, courageous and the best of companions and allies.” – Sir Ranulph Fiennes

The day finally arrived. You know, the one you wait for with the anticipation of Santa for December 26th. What is this most anticipated day?  It is the day I can finally claim my free birthday item. Yours might be from an accessories store, a hardware store, a local restaurant. Mine is from my beloved coffee shop and I had all I could do not to camp out overnight to make certain that I started my birthday off on the right foot.

As the line slalomed its polite yet frenetic way through the designated course to the counter, I double-checked the e-mail on my phone to be certain that I followed the instructions.

“Bring your registered card or mobile app to the store to redeem your reward”.

Registered card in hand? Check!

Balance on card? Low, but check!

Desired Birthday Coffee memorized and ready to order? Check!

Card handed to cashier? Check!

Imagine my surprise when the cashier requested further payment for my free Birthday Beverage. My card balance was now $0.00 and I was being charged for a gift my coffee shop said they gave me. When I asked the cashier about it, showing her the e-mail, she said that I should have told her beforehand, then moved me along and took the next person in line.

The e-mail informing me of the birthday gift made no mention of my need to inform the cashier. In fact, the e-mail implied that the only way to receive my gift was to use my card and that because my card was registered, all I had to do was present my card at the counter and everything would be taken care of. Eventually, I straightened it out and received my birthday gift, though not after having to jump through hoops and beg for my treat.

What started out as a nice surprise, turned into an ordeal that tainted my day and my relationship with a business I have been loyal to thus far. The next time you offer your clients a gift, keep the following things in mind:

  1. Be clear as to the details of your offer.
  2. Test and review your offer until you are certain that your message will be understood as intended.
  3. Train your staff thoroughly on the details of the offer/gift and empower them to correct misunderstandings as they happen.
  4. Make your offer/gift easy to redeem. The less your clients have to do to receive the gift you’re giving them, the happier they will be. To keep things in perspective, imagine how your family or best friend would react and feel if you made them do what you are making your clients do to receive a wedding present, birthday, or anniversary gift.

In the rush and the struggle to find new ways to reach out to your clients, thank them, and reward them for their loyalty, it is easy to lose sight of the basics enumerated above. Of course, there are also the technical aspects of sales tracking and other business considerations that have a say in the final offer and how you administer it. To create the most effective promotions, you need to find the right balance between your business needs or restrictions and treating your clients like the Human Beings they are. Remember, your clients are not dogs. Do not make them beg for treats. If you treat your clients well, they will reflect that treatment back to you and your company.

Copyright © 2014 – Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS

All rights reserved. It is strictly prohibited to copy, redistribute, republish or modify any materials or software contained on the cerossiterpcs.com website or in subsequent support without the prior written consent of Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS.