One of the problems we run into all the time as salespeople is the difference between a customer and a client. Let me clarify this because for a lot of people it’s a distinction without a difference.
A customer is what people in convenience stores see. It’s the people who, no matter how often they’re in your business, are there for one thing only; to buy what they want and leave. Even if they’re in your gas station daily to buy something small, they’re not interested in you for you, they want what you provide.
A client is someone who realtors, interior designers and other long-exposure businessfolk see more often. You spend time with them, your average revenue from a client is five to ten times higher than it is from a customer. Largely, clients pick their people because of the people, not the convenience.
If we’re in a location or company that has clerks rather than proper customer service, even if it’s a big business or big box store, chances are you don’t have clients. You have a collection of people who, by and large, want to get in and out as fast as possible with whatever they feel like that day.
Similarly, if you’re in a small format or mall store and spend a lot of time with the people who come in – making suggestions, demonstrating products and so on, you don’t have customers. You have clients.
So what’s the big deal? Well, a customer wants to be treated differently than a client. A customer knows that you’re an expendable convenience for them, and as such, has little to no incentive to demonstrate loyalty to you as a person or to you as a business. The dark side of this is that whenever there’s a problem after a purchase, your customers expect the kind of service a client would before the purchase, more often than not. Special treatment, loads of time and aid fixing whatever the issue de jour is… It’s a bit silly, but it’s what we see all the time.
On the other hand, more clients are liable to drop your business like it’s a corner store if they ever have issues. Because you spend so much time with them on the pre-sale side, clients usually expect the best, and not only fail to ask for support, but sometimes fail to believe such support is actually in their best interest.
Is there anything to be done about this? Probably not. The best thing to do until someone changes human nature is to figure out what kind of behaviour best serves both your customers and your business, in that order.
If you find you do your best work treating people like friends, ensuring that they get your full attention, and every piece of information you can give them, then don’t just continue to do so, find ways to improve on this practice.Focus on making sure people get more of what they want the first time. A sale is only a sale if it stays sold, right?
If you find that no one cares what you say, they just want what you’re selling, then stop making efforts pre-sale, and do a lot of post-sale support training. Learn to diffuse problems after people have been using what you’ve given them for a time, and learn to make sure they get whatever they can from you at any time during a proper support period.
In a just world, we’d have nothing but clients, and they’d continue to behave like clients even when problems crop up. Until then, all we can do is make he most of what we have by ensuring those we do business with can make the most of what we give them.
Anyone out there have any bright ideas? I’d seriously love to hear them. This one my entire comppany has been struggling with for years.