How to communicate with customers

Communicate the way your customer wants!

There is such a paradox in today’s marketing techniques. On the one hand, we have been beaten over the head with the idea that if you make a personal connection with your customer you make the sale. But we’re also bombarded with the very impersonal Internet which impacts today’s consumers in a huge way. How do you balance your need to connect with your customers and their need to check you out online before they let you invade their lives? – Yes, invade… it is an invasion until you have the chance to make that personal connection. Get the paradox yet?

I hear from businesses all the time that they would rather get a phone call from a potential customer instead of an email. Wouldn’t we all? To have someone new call us up out of the blue asking how we can help them? And we respond to their every question with the perfect answer, make that personal connection, and bingo! Money in your pocket. But the reality of today’s consumer is that the Internet and email equals “you’re lucky to be contacted at all.” Also, today’s consumer thinks differently than a decade ago. Today’s consumer wants information and truly believes they’re entitled to information. The majority of consumers use the Internet to research products and services online before they plan to buy.

The old sales routine:
1. My business spends money on advertising, direct mail, business flyers, etc. to spread the word about my products.
2. I wait for customers to call or stop in.
3. A sales person tries to make personal connection with a potential client
4. The sale – maybe.
5. Not enough sales, start over, repeat step 1, but this time get more aggressive and cold call people. They don’t know they need us, so let’s sell them on why they need my product now.

The new way
1. A consumer has a need
2. the consumer looks online for a business that can fulfill that need
3. the consumer contacts that business for more information
4. The business follows through with giving the client information in the manner received
a. If the customer inquired by email, an email response is sent
b. If the customer filled out an online form with their phone number, a call could be made
c. If the customer filled out a form to schedule a face to face meeting, the meeting is scheduled

The 21st century consumer expects businesses to behave in the manner they’ve specified, not the other way around. If you refuse to communicate through email and expect your customers to adapt to you, you will miss many opportunities to bring in new customers. But also be aware that this doesn’t mean that today’s customers don’t appreciate the phone or face to face meetings. You can get the meeting if you follow their lead. If they’ve sent you email without a phone number, don’t look up their number and call them – you’ve just turned yourself into a telemarketer.