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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

“Tin Men” or Scarecrows?

Is fear still a viable sell?

We’re in the market for long term home exterior solution. (It’s not just siding anymore) Though wrapped (literally) in a product wrapper, siding qualifies as a service because just as much value as the product is the notion that someone else will install it and maintain it over its lifespan.

I’m looking for a service company that can give me peace of mind that my family will be safe, my dwelling has the best chance at maintaining or appreciating in value, that my project won’t dramatically contribute wear & tear on the environment, and that I have made the best fiscal decision possible.

I’m theoretically at a disadvantage as a service evaluator. I’m not remotely handy, and my understanding of what impacts a structure over time is novice at best.

That said, the availability of information has increased dramatically over the years. No longer stuck with “just” traditional media such as consumer advocate magazines, in-store experts and word-of-mouth, we now have online product reviews from companies, consumers and media, price / product comparisons, and blogs and other social media where consumers detail their experiences directly with other consumers.

So why in 2009 does every salesperson / company that I’ve talked to try to use high-pressure tactics and fear to get me to buying from them on the spot in a 1st meeting? Surely they know that I’m not going to make a $10-50K purchase decision on the basis of how I felt in a 45 minute introduction. The part where you tell me you can save me 20%, but only if I commit / sign today? Laughable.

Siding is a product that, if you believe the collateral, most people will only have the opportunity to purchase once in their lives. The company-customer relationship will consist of a visible product installed in a large service project, and maintained through years of service experiences. An entrenched product focus is behind the Paleozoic-era high-pressure, fear-based approach. Today, information is too readily available for that sales tactic to work.

How would / could the business model change, if these companies were to approach the interaction as the start of a decades-long relationship with home & homeowner, rather than a $25,000 product sale to be made in the next 60 minutes and never considered again?

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