Know your Customer!

A career in sales throws you in a variety of situations where intellect overrules intelligence. While these 2 are the quintessential ingredients for a successful sales pitch, the higher ratio of ‘Intellect’ is what generally creates the recipe for closure. In one of my most recent sales engagements, i came across an interesting story line used by one of the finest technology salesman i have known. Here it goes-

‘They say customer is the king, but in reality he is not. He is the queen who does not know what she wants.’

My mind rambled over this quote for the next couple of days trying to decipher the worldly meanings around it. I started relating every situation to this thought. And for most of it, it turned out to be true. I was amazed at how simplified a situation could be when I scripted my engagements keeping this in mind. Then came a time when I fell into a personal situation, and went back to the drawing board trying to make deduct sense out of this situation.

Working people, hello! You would be able to relate to whats about to follow better. We all live to make careers, grow beyond god’s imagination, survive & fight, and in process, do everything imprudent for that one gold star, for that one moment of feeling mightier than thou, till the time we move on for the next star. In due course, we come across the golden word called ‘Opportunity’, which for many of us is the road to the next gold star. An ‘Opportunity’ can take various forms, a new job, a promotion, Some exciting work, A loved boss becoming more powerful etc. Grabbing everything that comes your way is natural human tendency, hence sooner, opportunities become objects and we start collecting every piece up for grabs. In the little i have lived, this has been the case, and am sure it will be the same always.

A very interesting friend once told me-

‘When doing a job, don’t make relationships, make customers, where you are the product.’

There is a thin fine line between these two. How do you make your customers while not having relationships, or vice versa? Simply put- a relationship is akin to a Mother-Son’s relationship, where irrespective of what you do, your mother thinks you are a superstar. Where as a customer is akin to a Father-Son relationship, where the father would push you to your limits, and once proven, have a good, bad or ugly opinion about you. He is the customer who would always want you to play to your strengths and improve on your weaknesses.

Opinions on this might vary, but mine has been this.
My Mom thinks I am a superstar, where as my Dad says I have a long way to go.

Lets now relate the 2 concepts-
‘They say customer is the king, but in reality he is not. He is a queen who does not know what she wants.’
‘When doing a job, don’t make relationships, make customers, where you are the product.’

A mere glance at these 2 statements sounds contradictory. Should i make relationships, or should i make customers, but then why do i make customers when a customer is so confused? Nailing this interpretation in a picture perfect blend is the devil, which half of us spend our lives not knowing, the other half spends not being able to figure out, and the remaining extraterrestrial bodies laugh their way to the top.

So what is the perfect blend, or lets says interpretation of these-

Well, again, to the little i have existed in this ecosystem, these both go hand in hand, and my recent circumstances helped me summarize this-

  1. Know your customer for he does not know what he wants.
  2. Build the relationship, and then help him define what he wants.
  3. Once he knows what he wants, make yourself as the product.
  4. Give him the time to test the product, meet his demand, be successful.
  5. Now you have a loyal customer, to whom you are the most valuable product.

On a cautionary note:

Never get sold to a customer who does not know what he is buying! For a buyer who does not know the value of the product, can be a disaster.

Articulating this art took me half of my lifetime, and mastering it might take the rest. For whatever is left, its a lesson well learnt.

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