What’s your Serving/Selling ratio?


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Let’s be honest. The vast majority of resources we devote to this practice we call marketing is spent selling. But if marketing is about answering the wants and needs of customers, as we believe it is here at Understand and Serve, we need to ask ourselves why the vast majority of our time, budget and blackberry inbox is occupied with pushing our wares on the market. I don’t think we don’t have the Serving/Selling ratio right.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing for a new-agey or philanthropic paradigm. The idea of serving customers better actually makes hard-nosed business sense. Indeed, as top producing professional salespeople have proven for decades, knowing your prospect, what makes them tick, understanding the context of their job and their needs, is the most essential step in the eventual closed sale.

But I think companies need to go beyond that. I’m arguing that we need to fundamentally reexamine our intentions, our resources, our purpose. We need to think about understanding and serving customers at an individual and at an enterprise level. In very real terms (again think time and budget) what is your serving/selling ratio?

Confessions of Consumer Researcher

No one’s perfect. By function I’ve spent most my work-life devoted to understanding consumers. But I must confess; my ratio isn’t where it ought to be. My time and blackberry (or in my case iphone) reveals the need for adjustment.

But remember, we consumers don’t grade on a curve. Nope. Usually only one product, service or brand makes the grade. One automobile. One insurance policy. One vacation destination.

Getting it Right

Best Buy has earned some hard-won consumer favor. Seems they’ve got the aim right: Buyer Be Happy. That’s a bold promise. By many measures, including sales, they are succeeding by delivering on that promise. They’ve also integrated customer reviews right into their website and their CMO has launched his own blog. Some of the comments are probably less positive than he’d like however. I hope they’re being dealt with offline.

Of course Best Buy isn’t perfect. I for one have recently had a very frustrating and perhaps expensive DVR ’purchase experience’, which has unknowingly entangled me in a new ‘contract’ with DirecTV.

But as frustrating and possibly expensive as this has been, I still have favor for Best Buy. On the whole the store and web experiences I’ve had – Geek Squad not the least – and the products that I’ve bought have been very satisfying. Best Buy has understood and served my needs well – I think they have their Serving/Selling ratio about right.

Fundamental Shift

Sadly the majority of companies are not at Best Buy’s level. To succeed, they must change. They must put serving over selling. What’s needed is a fundamental enterprise shift. As my partner Jeremy offered in a recent post.

“Such a fundamental shift in corporate mission and direction is hard, often wrenchingly so. It impacts all aspects of company culture, strategy, organization, management, and stakeholder relationships”

Despite the challenge, we believe this shift in emphasis of understanding and serving over selling is both essential and doable. It is the fundamental path forward.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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