How to give your client what they want, not just what they need
Every year my young children would write out their Christmas lists with joyful anticipation. They listed all the things they could think of that they wanted.
You know what they didn’t include on their lists? Socks and underwear. They didn’t write down food, towels, sheets, school supplies, or toothbrush. Even though they needed those things, and I was going to buy them, they only listed what they wanted.
Now, what kind of parent would I be if I only gave them what they needed, and not what they wanted? There’s nothing like the joy of seeing your child’s face light up when they unwrap that toy they so badly wanted. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get that kind of reaction from our customers?
The truth is, anyone can give them what they need. Need implies the very basic requirement. Like a toothbrush.
But I’m going to assume that you’re building your business on providing more than the basics. If you strive for excellence, this list will interest you.
#1 – Fast Delivery
“I WANT IT, AND I WANT IT NOW”
Whether you sell parts, supplies, or a service, when your customer wants it, they want it now. Lead time isn’t a luxury afforded to the small business owner. I’m not implying that small business owners are disorganized, rather it’s a fast paced “need-it-now” world.
And let’s face it, sometimes things go wrong. Ok, all the time things go wrong. Employees break things, orders get screwed up, and things slip through the cracks. If you can deliver fast, you’ll be a hero.
Also, keep in mind that you are selling to someone trying to make their customer happy. It’s stressful to be the middleman, so they love it when their supplier comes through in a pinch.
Do your best to get your client what they need as fast as possible, but always communicate honestly and avoid over promising. They may be giving their customer promises based on your promises.
#2 – Patient Understanding
“BE NICE TO ME, I’VE HAD A HARD DAY”
Let’s face it, life is hard. Most of us have to leave our problems at the door and do our job for 8 hours until we can go home. For the small business owner, however, it’s not that easy. Many put in extraordinarily long hours to get it all done.
The independent business owner wears many hats. They are solely responsible for every aspect of their operation, from staffing to inventory, to facilities, to accounting, to customer service, and more.
He or she doesn’t know your business like they know their own. Expecting them to understand your “lingo” is unfair, so good communication is key to avoiding frustration. (see blog: 7 Ways to Avoid Frustrating Your Prospects)
So if an order comes in with something questionable, take the time to follow up and clarify. If a rare payment is one day late, consider a grace period. If they have to call you six times a day for support, kindly give support.
Anytime you can give some extra care, you’ll go a long way toward nurturing a relationship. Which brings me to the next point.
#3 – A Relationship
“I WANT A FRIEND”
Joe needs to order some widgets. They’re nothing special, but he’s not sure which type are best for his purpose. Joe has the choice of three vendors he can order from. Who does he choose? Joe chooses the vendor that he can call up, get a real person, ask his question, and not feel stupid.
He chooses the person, not the company.
The small business owner wants to have a “go-to guy” that’s going to take care of him. Whether you send out sales reps, or have a dedicated order specialist, making the effort to build rapport and trust between two actual people creates a sense of loyalty.
Small business owners are loyal, and this means your business will stay top of mind and top of the list for buying decisions.
#4 – Value
“I WANT THE BEST I CAN AFFORD”
Small businesses run on tight budgets so AFFORDABILITY is crucial. Many small business owners find they have to offer discounts to be competitive with the big guys, leaving profit margins even smaller.
They want a good value. They need to get a little more for their money where they can. Offering quantity discounts, easy terms, and/or incentives will be very appreciated.
The other side of value is QUALITY. While looking for a bargain price, they still need reliable products and services. Anything of poor quality risks damaging their reputation when something goes wrong. And trust me, they will throw the blame all over you before they lose face with their customer.
#5 – Clear Information
“MAKE THIS EASY FOR ME”
Remember, they’re busy people. They don’t have time to sort through a hard to read catalog or confusing website. They’re very likely to become quite agitated by hard-to-follow instructions. Make your processes as user-friendly as possible. This person is hoping for a straight shot down the path of least resistance.
As I mentioned before, stay away from using language specific to your industry if that’s not common to theirs. Don’t assume everyone knows your business. They’re busy knowing theirs.
Transparency in pricing is another hot button. Your prospect wants a ballpark idea whether doing business with you is even an option before wasting their time and yours.
Your prospect wants to know what to do, what will happen next, and what to expect at all times. Giving clear instruction is key to a powerful email campaign, especially when it comes to a call to action.
Life comes with enough surprises, thank you very much. Be clear and concise in your communications.
#6 – Help!
“TEACH ME WHAT I NEED TO KNOW”
They may not ask for it. They may not know how to ask for it. But most small business owners want help. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed.
Anything you can give your client that can increase product knowledge and develop best practices is a gift that will bring that Christmas morning joy.
Consider the following ways you can help your clients:
- PRODUCT FACT SHEETS provide information valuable in aiding them to better understand and explain features and benefits to their own customers.
- TESTIMONIALS not only give them added confidence in your company and product or service, it builds their arsenal of talking points for promoting it themselves.
- BEST PRACTICES SHEETS assure your client is using your product or service correctly and most effectively, protecting everyone’s reputation.
- HOW-TO VIDEOS are a great tool, providing a “show me” option for those who learn better through that modality.
- BLOGS are your perfect outlet for providing information of all kinds to your prospects and clients. Blogs can include:
- video demonstrations
- new technology advancements
- product descriptions
- Industry changes
- trade secrets
- and much more
This is where you can introduce new products and services, new staff members, new ideas. You have a wealth of information, so share it!
With this insight into the secret desires of the small business owner, you can put effort into those areas that are going to make you shine with your clients.
If you have any questions or comments about meeting the wants of your small business client, share them in the reply box below. I’m here to help.
Cindy White is a freelance copywriter specializing in helping businesses reach their target markets for increased sales and improved client relations through compelling, well-crafted copy. Initial consultations are always free of charge.