Customers and potential customers always remember how their needs and expectations were managed through the sales process. It is all part of the experience of doing business.
However, In my experience, B2B businesses are often poor at effectively managing these pre-sale customer touch points. Many seem to think that their widgets are the best in the world, and customers should be grateful they supply them, at the very least, they should be prepared to respect that our life is not easy.
Repeat to yourself: “Customers do not care about my problems, only theirs” in the mirror every morning.
Following are 11 simple rules, evolved out of the cock-ups I have seen over many years.
# Customer communications should always be acknowledged, and a customer should certainly never have to send anything twice, and worse still, to different people.
# Following the above, when a customer says something to one person, it should be heard by the whole company.
# A customers time is their most valuable resource, never, ever, ever, waste it
# Sweat the minutia. Even a tiny mistake in the paperwork, or packaging, can bring undone lots of good work elsewhere, so be a zealot for the detail.
# Do not expect the customer to play any role in your QA. A product failure is your complete failure, not just a mild annoyance easily remedied.
# Customers should never have to ask for a progress report, they should be available on an ongoing basis.
# Let potential customers set their own pace through the sales process. While it is often a delicate balance between closing a sale and letting it slip away through lack of expected attention, few like to be pushed.
# Share best practice that emerges amongst all your customers. Helping to make them better in their markets is in everyone’s interests.
# Customers love to be loved, show gratitude and respect at all times,
# Never moan about how hard you had to work to deliver their product, they do not care, you just sound like a spoilt child.
# Over deliver what you promised, no fanfare, no hype, just unexpected value.
Finally, the old adage that the customer is always right is rubbish.
However, strategically important customers, the ones you really want for the long haul, the ones that make you a better supplier, they are always right.