Helping your customers or selling to
The business answer is we need to do both.
But what would the vote be in your business if you were told you could only do
one of these and you had to choose?
My experience of trying to buy a flat
screen TV last week would suggest the answer varies in different organisations.
I tried three different places:
Google: lots of helpful information, no
selling, independent advice (no product experience).
John Lewis: helpful, little selling,
clarity about the solution, real product experience.
Currys: no help, stressful experience,
plenty of selling, lots of offers, a good credit deal.
Interestingly Google and John Lewis are doing quite well
whereas DSG (Currys) are suffering in these more turbulent
times. DSG management seem to be blaming the economic difficulties, but I am
left wondering if their problems are to do with too much selling and not enough
Google and John Lewis know that they
must help their customers whereas in many businesses the
emphasis on marketing and sales has been about getting the message across,
making the offer, closing the deal. But is this really want customers want? Is
this what is most important to customers? Is this the most effective way to get
Businesses sometimes struggle to
see what is most important to their customers. Last ezine we
discussed ways around this. This article takes this one step further and
suggests that by starting with selling as the source of growth many businesses
are distracted from what is important to their customers. This distraction and
neglect of what is really important to customers is likely to lead to less
growth and less success.
How well do you understand your customers problems?
How do you
ensure your products and services help your customers? Do you or your
colleagues struggle to see that what customers want is help to solve a problem?
Do you focus on selling at the exclusion of helping?
Increasingly businesses that help are
more successful than those that just sell. Google is the
ultimate "help not sell" company and seems to enjoy the highest brand valuation
in the world (BrandZ published today)
How did this work in the case
of my TV purchase. My problem or opportunity is that I want to be able to relax
with the TV only when really I feel the need. I do not want the machine in my
face every time I sit down in the living room, so we will put it in a smaller
separate room. When I go to the internet or the store I am looking for some
help to solve these problems. So my search extends to appearance, size,
discreteness, on demand TV services, as well as picture quality and sound
quality (the only thing anyone talked about was picture
Customers do not want is to be
sold a product. Customers want to solve problems issues and
realise opportunities that they face in their lives. Features of products and
services that businesses can offer them are only important when they help with
this. Businesses that help their customers will win. Those that just sell to
their customers are likely to lose out to smarter competitors.
you go and ask your customers what is important to them, ask them about their
lives and their problems not just the features of your products and
Now if you were forced to choose
between only helping your customers or only selling to your customers, which
would you choose