Yesterday I wrote about how you can lose a sale because your story is just too complicated or you are trying to be all things to all people.
Today’s post is about reason #3 of my Ten Ways to Lose . . . Even When You’re the Best: Your Rules of Engagement are Too Rigid.
There’s a fine line between doing whatever a customer wants, even if it’s not your core business, and learning from customers how they would like to receive your products and services.
How you present training, customer service, information or intellectual content is one example. People learn in different ways and they have different preferences for how they take in information. Some like to listen; others to read; still others want video. Some people prefer live interactions in real time; others like to absorb at their own pace on their own time. Some people like the phone, others like text; some like email, others like chat. If you don’t offer easy alternatives for customers to select, you will lose customers.
I worked with a client that manufactures substances that are applied to road surfaces. This client did not apply the substances that they sold; they only shipped them and then trained their customers on how to apply. But eventually, they had to get into the business of doing the applications for those customers who demanded it. Too many customers simply wanted them to do the entire job, and they found themselves leaving money on the table. This company frequently–in fact perhaps always– had the best solution at a reasonable price for their prospective customer. But they discovered that they were losing on some cases because the customer didn’t want to do the application, they didn’t want to learn it–even if that was the most cost-effective way. The customers wanted greater simplicity, not less cost.
The way to balance flexibility with replicable process is to ask your customers, listen to what they say, and request a debrief every time you lose a deal that you expected to win. Sometimes the reasons will surprise you and give you ideas for improvement.
Have you ever lost a deal because the customer wanted a different method of delivery? Did it change your business