What is the best method of finding new clients? What is the best way to maintain relationships with those clients we are already doing business with?
The first step is understanding there are three key ingredients people and organizations look for from the people they chose to business with; utility, credibility and relevance.
Utility is related to the satisfaction customers get when they consume a particular product or service. This satisfaction is what economists call value. If customers do not perceive value then they look elsewhere for the solutions they need.
Credibility establishes trust and is a crucial element in the purchasing decision. While itís true that your corporate track record and customer testimonials will help establish your credibility, the decision often lies in the perception potential clients have as a result of a one-on-one conversation. What they are searching for is a level of trust that you are capable of delivering on your promises?
Prospective customers may see utility, trust your ability to deliver but if they arenít convinced that your solution is relevant to their current need, you are still facing a stumbling block.
Understanding what motivates a customer is the logical starting point. The next step is to choose the best tools available to communicate the message that will steer your customer in the right purchasing direction: technology or face-to-face.
Research has proven that people spend up to 50% of their time looking at screens. They manage their bank account, book a holiday, buy a book, meet people, research vendors and belong to communities. The online world saves people time, gives them access to great quantities of information and allows them to interact with colleagues and peers. So, one might conclude that technology is the best tool to acquire new clients. While technology has expanded greatly, there are still short-comings. Technology cannot read facial expressions, gauge emotions, detect lies or understand underlying customer emotions. The technique that fills this gap is still face-to-face communications.
Face-to-face allows vendors to better understand the context and layers of customerís emotions. It provides a richer understanding of the clientís issues. It opens the door to greater understanding and ultimately gives the client the clues they crave to make their purchasing decision: utility, credibility and relevance.
There are a multitude of places where face-to-face interactions are possible: professional conferences, seminars, special events, hospitality occasions and so on. But for the busy executive one place stands out among the rest Ė trade shows. The unique value of a trade show is that it provides an opportunity to meet volumes of targeted people in a short period of time. A trade show also houses many face-to-face opportunities.
A trade show, at least from my perspective, suffers from a case of familiarity. Trade shows have been around for so long that in many cases they have lost their luster. Listen to business people talk. Their conversation may include information about a new Smartphone and its apps, a new bit of technology that has recently been installed in their organization or a conversation about what they hope technology will be able to do for them in the future. Rarely will you hear them sharing information about a great trade show they are planning to attend.
Herein lays the problem. Customers crave information that they can only obtain in a face-to-face environment and yet the focus of business is on technology. There is no reason the two canít co-exist but when one does at the expense of another, opportunities are lost. During your next management meeting spend some time discussing your approach to customer acquisition. Ask whether your organization is doing everything it can to ensure that customers make the right buying decisions.
© 2013 by Barry Siskind