Build A Stairway to your Customers

This morning I received a sales call from someone offering me a CRM solution – “the best in the market”, which I could use freely and without any strings attached for 90 days. I was given the usual pitch about how this offer was exclusive and available only to select people. Now, we badly need a better CRM solution, but I am not sure which one would be right for us as there are so many available. I don’t want to start using one only to discover later that something better exists. It would be difficult to make the switch later. So essentially, I did not need to be persuaded very hard to buy a CRM solution. What I needed was an assurance that the solution I bought was going to be the best for my requirements.

I Needed Education

I began discussing other CRM solutions available in the market with this sales guy, but in effect, he did not go beyond stating that his product was the best. He could go on an on about his product, but had no clue about the market and competition that would make me trust his judgment.  To be fair, he did answer a few of my questions but they were not enough to establish trust, and project “I am here to help you succeed”.  He was singularly focused on getting me to buy his product.  It did not seem to me he had any interest beyond that.  I have had similar experiences looking for video conferencing solutions that sell anywhere from $10,000 to $65,000.  These are frustrating experiences. 

Contrast this with another experience I had while looking for a direct marketing copywriter. I started by consulting this hot-shot copywriter whose name is thrown up by Google whenever you search for copywriters. I contacted him with my requirements and he mailed me his rates. He is quite expensive, but money was not that big an issue, he is definitely good at his work and I wanted results.  So I kept him under consideration, but decided to shop around a bit more just for my own satisfaction. I came upon another copywriter who appeared to be a good candidate for the kind of work I wanted to get done, and contacted her. I was in for a pleasant surprise when she took the time to go over my requirements, discuss them in detail with me over a couple of long phone conversations, only to tell me eventually that I didn’t really require her services. That it would be an unnecessary expense for me, and pointed me to the alternate solution of direct marketing.  To cut a long story short, the second copywriter impressed me as she enlightened me about my own requirements. She focused on providing value rather than just making money. Even though I did not work with her, or any other copywriter, convinced by her argument, she is there in my mind and I make it a point to refer her to people who require copywriting services. And recently I did use her services for another project without checking out if anyone else could do the job better. The funny thing is this project was not about direct marketing messaging, her specialty, and logically, she should not have been the first choice for that kind of work.

Customers Don’t Have Time, Not Even To Test Products Offered Freely

What I learnt from these experiences is that customer relationships, like other human relationships, need to be built gradually, one-step at a time, and Freemium is not necessarily the best solution. Your customers do not have the time, and maybe the experience, to test out your products. You need to help them make educated choices, which they feel satisfied with in the long run. You need to EDUCATE them, and you need to do it in a way that is convenient for them. Rather than going for the pat solution of offering a product/service free for a limited period.

Build A Stairway To Your Customers By Deconstructing And Reconstructing Your Product/Service

A bird will not feed right out of your hands until you have slowly established trust by way of multiple increasingly positive interactions. Think about deconstructing your product/services into multiple components, and then reconstructing in such a way that you can offer it to your customers one-step at a time. Let them nibble at it first, if they like it offer a bigger bite and so on. This has two benefits - you build a relationship with your customer and expose them to your product without overwhelming them. As you build your relationship with your customers, help them discover your solution's benefits, educate them, or even better, assist them in experiencing the solutions offered by competing products and show them why you have a superior product. You might need to spend more time and money on such a strategy, but it will pay in the long run rather than the hit and miss strategies used by most sales people which would probably turn out to be as expensive if not more.

 We live in hectic times, and the information explosion has overwhelmed most people rather than help them. Earlier customers used to welcome the idea of trying out various products before buying them, they still do; you would prefer trying out the new suit to ensure that it fits you well before purchasing it. However, trying out a new suit does not take much effort or time. Trying out software or service does, so traditional sales techniques won’t work, sales people need to go the extra mile to land up with customers who not only buy from them, but also refer them to others like I refer the copywriter I mentioned above. By the way, she is Susan Fantle at