Sep 10, 2012 Food for thought
In a market crowded with connectivity solutions that – to the buyer – look very much the same, it’s more important for resellers to focus on the needs of the customer – but listening isn’t always enough.
Let’s be honest, in the ICT industry we’re all guilty of constantly bombarding customers with technology terms and hyperbole. We blind customers with science and numbers as we compete voraciously for their business. We do this to such an extent that we often forget to ask them what it is that they want to achieve and, when we do ask them, we might listen but we don’t always hear.
There’s a big difference between paying ‘ear service’ to the customer and actually taking on board what they’re saying. Now, those of you who are on the front line of the battlefield every day might ask: ‘What’s the point? All they’re really interested in is the price at the end of the day’. If that’s what you think, you’re clearly not hearing them.
It’s entirely understandable why you might simply put the lowest-cost service that will just about meet their current needs in front of them because that’s the one that they’re most likely to plump for in the end. After all, they’re busy people; they want to get it right but they don’t want to waste time. And you don’t want to extend the negotiations and risk them being tempted into signing up with someone else, right?
To a degree we’re guilty of doing this not only on a one-to-one basis but collectively as an industry. Look at how we’ve been trying to drive people into adopting ever faster broadband simply by focusing on the key features of speed and bandwidth. In the past this has been driven by the major consumer-focused comms providers who have simply attempted to stir up the market into a frenzy of excitement through national advertising, direct mail and online campaigns. Even the Government gets in on the act from time to time, waxing lyrical about delivering superfast broadband that will make Britain more competitive (for which they will take the credit of course) without ever really explaining what we need it for.
As their solution provider you know your customers ought to be considering a service that will give them more flexibility and scalability. It may cost a little more now but will give them better long term return on investment. Most of all it’ll serve the right purpose.
Business people are especially pretty switched on when it comes to value for money. Yes, they do have to keep costs down, but they will also listen to any proposition that will give them a better solution for their business and help them achieve more over the long term.
So, take the time and trouble to first of all listen to them, hear what they are saying and respond in an intelligent way. When you think about it, this is just common sense. You never really understand someone until you get in their shoes and walk around in them for a bit.
It’s also important to challenge customers a little and to keep asking questions.
Communications generally and connectivity particularly are vitally important to today’s businesses. If you start to probe and look for the reasons why it’s important to them and identify what the consequences might be if they fail to achieve the desired levels of service and performance, you can soon get into a valuable dialogue about the customer’s real needs – now and going forward.
Critical to your success, as that sort of conversation begins you effectively become the customer’s consultant and trusted adviser. Most customers will welcome this because they’re confused by the massive array of choices available. The constant bombardment of messages takes its toll and, after a while, they stop hearing the key messages. Once you know their objectives, take the time to talk though the various technology and service options – for broadband, FTTC, EFM, Ethernet and so on. In the end, what businesses really want is someone who they feel is on their side and who will do their best to support their business – not just try to close off the sale and move on.
In a market in which there is too much noise for customers to make any sense of what’s being said, if you can learn to listen to them and hear what they say and then talk to them about the real needs of their business, they will respond to you more favourably.
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Read our previous article ‘Making the right connections’ or take a look at our previous articles.
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