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‘Don’t irritate customers into buying your products’

Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later. — Og Mandino

Phillip Chichoni

There was a story on one of the social media sites about a man who broke sales records in a strange way. It is said a firm was struggling to sell encyclopedias. The owner fired the salespeople and replaced them with new recruits.

These were given tasks to go out and sell; the ones who made the most sales during the first month would be hired permanently. After three weeks, one out of the five new recruits was way ahead in sales numbers. The other four decided to ask how he was doing it.

The man had a speech disorder and he would stutter a lot when talking. So he explained how people were buying encyclopedias from him so fast. “You-you-you see. Whe- e-when I – I – I meet someone, I – I – I be-be-begin to re-re-read to him the-the-the first cha-chapter. Be-be-before I even fi-fi-finish, he ja-ja-just asks fo-for the price eh-eh-eh and gi-gi-gives me money.”

That is the selling method some business owners and salespeople use. They approach customers and pitch to them until they end up buying just to get rid of them.

As a result, many decision makers have come up with ways of avoiding cold callers. Some insulate themselves by instructing the receptionist not to let through salespeople who have no appointments. Others don’t take phone calls from unknown people.
Some companies have even gone to the extent of placing “No Hawkers” signs on their doors. It is not that they don’t want your products; they are simply tired of too many cold callers disturbing their busy schedules.

Another trend which is developing in Zimbabwe is cold calling via email. Email marketing is a popular way of keeping in touch with customers and prospects. I use it to send weekly newsletters, but only to people who willingly join my mailing list.

I don’t know how many readers have noticed this, but in the past month or so I have been seeing advertising emails daily arriving into my inbox promoting all sorts of products, some of them even well-known brands.

I have not subscribed to any marketing list for such emails, but it looks like there is one firm which is just sending emails to any address that they get hold off. This is called spamming and it is actually illegal. This firm even brags that it has over 250 000 email addresses but I wonder just how many people on their list are happy to see their advertising emails daily.

A few people I have spoken to acknowledged receiving mails from this particular firm and have simply marked that sender as spam; any emails they send are just delivered straight to the spam box.

Many entrepreneurs and marketers, desperate to sell, will do things that irritate prospective customers. Unfortunately, most customers will just avoid you or simply trash your emails.

Instead of irritating customers, innovative entrepreneurs will do something that works, building relationships.

The internet has transformed our world into the information age.

Customers can easily find what they want on the internet and can compare features and prices and choose the best deal. Even if that is so, many customers prefer to buy from people they know.

Because buying any product is a risk, a customer will try to reduce that risk by buying from someone they trust. That trust emanates from knowing the supplier and having a good relationship with them.
In these times of economic depression, the buying decision is being considered even more seriously as companies don’t want to lose money. The safest route for buyers is to go where they were satisfied before.

To survive and grow in this environment, entrepreneurs who wish to grow their sales will focus on building relationships. This entails getting to know the prospect very well; gathering intelligence on them. You will then be able to know their specific needs, worries and concerns. Once you know something about them, you can then work out a way to meet them or get them to know about your firm and your offerings. If you know that they like a certain sport, go where they play.

Better still, if you know someone who knows them, they can make introductions between the two of you.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to sell to someone you have just met. Work on building the relationship instead. Get to know their likes and become a friend. As the relationship develops, you can start letting them know about your business and your products. Make sure you give them information that is relevant to their
needs and pains.

Show that you know their industry and that your product can be a solution to their pressing problem. When the relationship has grown strong enough, you can then pitch a proposal. Because you are now friends, they will give truthful responses to your selling proposal.

So, instead of irritating people into buying, build relationships instead. You will find more resources on entrepreneurship on my website http://smebusineslink.com.

Phillip Chichoni is a business development consultant who works with SMEs and entrepreneurs. You may contact him by email, chichonip@smebusinesslink.com. You can also visit http://smebusinesslink.com

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