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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Paper Covers Rock. Service Beats Sales.

Just finished having some work done on the outside of my house. I chronicled some of the provider selection process, but wanted to provide an update on how the family finally made our decision.

The significant factor that determined who we selected was how the companies presented themselves.

Those that lost, lost because they were selling a product.

They sent salespeople who came equipped with sample-filled valises. They handed out glossy brochures with pictures of showcase houses that looked nothing short of aspirational for our humble home. They spoke about vertical integration with their suppliers and made every effort to make their companies look as big as possible. They used jargon to try and make what they did sound more complex. They used high pressure, car-dealership tactics that suggested that if I didn’t fork over money on the spot, I would lose out on a dramatic discount. They were (mostly, but not always) more expensive, likely because of all the product support they needed to fund.

The company that won, won because they provide a service.

They sent a project manager / job foreman, who wanted to talk about the state of my house and the work it needed. They gave me a single quote, and guaranteed it. They offered referrals of homes they’d done in my neighborhood, and gave me their URL for research, rather than a brochure.

The time of the product-based approach, supported by high-pressure sales tactics, has come and gone.

People know enough, are wary enough and expect enough that they don’t want to be sold to.

They want to interact with someone who is legitimately interested in their situation, treats it as unique (even if it isn’t) and provides quality work product in return for their money. Only a person or company that views what they do as a service can fulfill that promise.


Chris Haines said...

One thing I have learned in financial services sales is that if you lead with a product, then you're done. The best presentations I have done ended without the mention of a single product. There's no pitch, rather just a conceptual sale that will either resonate or not.

Chris Reaburn said...

The feedback I'm seeing on this topic is universal, so why does product-based sales still rule i/t/o applied effort?