The best customers for us are the ones that present us with a new problem, because chances are, if one customer has that problem, 100 more have it, or 1,000, or 10,000. So you start thinking about solution development rather than product development. … Invariably, those solutions come not from guys sitting in a room by themselves saying, “Hmm, what would I want if I were a customer?” or “What are our competitors doing?” … So when it comes to sales, we’ve tried to change the conversation from “Let me show you what I have to sell you” to “What are you trying to do in your company? What problems can I help you solve?” —Michael Dell on what it took to grow Dell into a multibillion-dollar business
There’s a LOT of wisdom packed into the paragraph above. It bears repeating. In our office, I often remind my team that the clients who repeatedly call us with complaints, demands, and requests are NOT the ones who worry me. The ones who worry me are the ones who NEVER call. About anything.
Most business owners forget that we are in the business of PROFITING from problems. If clients were as savvy as you about IT, they wouldn’t NEED you. That’s why I never let myself tire of “beginner”-type questions from new members. I have trained myself to answer them with the same level of passion and enthusiasm for the 1,000th time as I did the first time I uttered it. Shame on ME if I don’t.
Respect Your Customers
On many occasions I’ve heard IT firms sarcastically remark about the technical incompetence of their clients, joking about the “problem” being between the chair and the keyboard, even to the point of posting such comments on Facebook. This not only sends a message of arrogance to other prospects and clients, but it sends a message to your team that it’s okay to insult and belittle the people who are paying you to help them.
Don’t misunderstand: There are some clients that are so epically stupid that one wonders how they managed to get through life, much less hold a job or run a company. But there IS a difference between bad behavior and ignorance on a specific topic. A client behaving badly should not be tolerated. A client that is merely ignorant about a topic—and seeking your counsel and advice—should not be belittled. Corrected and educated perhaps, but not insulted.
Turn Complaints Into Profits
Back to Dell’s comment: There is MONEY to be made in ignorance and laziness. If nothing else, don’t p’ and moan about clients’ demands and complaints—figure out how you can PROFIT from them. The entire app industry’s massive and explosive growth is largely based on giving people easy buttons for just about everything, taking the “hard work” of thinking out of the equation.
My nanny has an app that makes a sound to remind her to drink water. Producers Club member Mark Sheehan is making a small fortune creating incredibly simple apps for spray-foam installers to calculate their cost on a job—a process you would think the industry would have figured out by now. Amazon has become THE go-to shopping site for millions because they’ve made it so easy to find and pay for just about everything online. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t have a calculator on their desk.
As I’ve always said, marketing starts with the “Who.” “Who has unsolved problems that are not being addressed somewhere else?” Ask yourself this. A lot. There’s profit in the answer.