The Customer Seeks a New Kind of Attention
The desire to pay attention to your customer is a noble one. In fact, I believe wholeheartedly that customer experience is the future of marketing.
That is because it is only with our customers as ambassadors and a source of revenue that our businesses will thrive.
Having said that, what it means to pay attention to the customer has changed. Most notably the customers needs from its providers has changed and therefore your business must change with it.
What used to be the high touch sales method of product overviews, long lunches and happy hours has shifted from the core of relationship selling to a mere side show.
These days, customers are seeking more and more of their own information on just about every product and service on the planet long before they even let their vendors know what they are looking for. With this a business must change from what relationship selling was (above) to what it is…
The New Relationship Selling is About Information and Inspiration
So with all of the change in the customer landscape, what makes a business partner valuable today?
To make it as simple as possible I have created 2 buckets where businesses should focus their customer engagement.
Information: Like I’ve said many times before, consumers are seeking out information on their own. As a vendor, you should seek to become a supplier of valuable and practical information that helps drive your customers toward a purchase decision. If you aren’t the source of information then it may be a good idea to ask yourself, who is? Chances are it is another supplier, which is the last place you want your clients to be gathering their information.
How can you become a source for information? So glad you asked! This is where creating and curating copious amounts of useful information on how your products and services solve real business problems comes into play. Creating is quite literally the act of having marketing and leadership write, record video and use graphical data to help your customer better understand your solutions. Curating means finding valuable sources and pointing your customers toward it via email, social media or other correspondence.
Inspiration: This is the part where suppliers can really set themselves apart. How do you inspire action from your current and potential customers? Not just to say yes to buy, but moving them forward in the process and creating a vision around the value your solutions provide. If the customer is truly informed (they are), and they think they know what they want (they do), how do you take that and help guide them toward maximizing the data (information) that they have consumed.
Think about this from a practical perspective. People now love to do their own research. They think they know exactly what they want. As a solution provider, it is upon you to ask questions, listen, check the facts and ultimately to make sure what they think they know is valid. Then it is upon you to ensure that they get what they really want, not just what they think they want.
Remember, You Are Still The Expert
In the end, your business exists because you add value. The moment you stop adding value you will be commoditized or worse yet you will cease to exist.
Focus on being the source of information AND inspiration for your customers (old and new). This isn’t just what they want, but it is what they need from their suppliers.