A few years ago, I was on a call with business strategist Tara Gentile, when she said something that hit home: “You don’t actually want those customers that you have to convince to trust you,” she said.
In a tough economic climate, it can be easy to slip into the mind-set of trying to convince people to trust you. You want clients to see how your company differentiates itself from the pack and believe that you’ll actually deliver the promised results.
But always feeling the need to convince people of something means operating out of a fear-based energy. The customers drawn to this type of dynamic are skeptical and unlikely to become loyal fans. They’ll always try to get you to prove your worth. Instead, partner with clients who come to the table with trust and who feel that your company’s message, offerings and way of doing business resonates with them.
Here are three ways to move away from always trying to convince clients and head toward relationships that resonate.
1. Avoid comparing your company's wares to another firm’s.
If a client walks into a business meeting and asks for a demonstration of the value of your offerings as compared to another company's, he or she is setting up a dynamic of pitting your organization against another firm. And that’s a red flag that this person isn’t coming to the table with trust about what you can deliver.
If you respond by running through comparisons to convince a customer that your company is better, you play right into that dynamic. The same goes for creating sales pages with charts that compare the value of your offering to another's. Sales pages need to focus on the benefits of your product not grant airtime to competitors'. The way to win at the comparison game is to not play it at all, keeping the focus on your company.
2. Stop endlessly giving away freebies to secure business.
It’s great when a company shares a sample of that work that will be generated but not so much so when this leads to a pattern of doing work on spec or constantly providing a client extra work for free. This is particularly rampant in the service industry, where it’s become the expectation that some clients get freebies.
Clients who constantly expect freebies are freeloaders. While there's the fear that they’ll go elsewhere if the freebies stop being offered, the truth is that if they do leave, you’ll have more energy and time to devote to securing clients who don’t expect constant kickbacks.
3. Don't undercharge to undercut the competition.
The era of Walmart-style competition is flagging. Customers are more savvy than ever before and they understand that saving a little money on the front end only to receive poor service or a shoddy product later isn’t worth their time (or money).
If a client tries to enlist you in a bidding war on a proposal or spreads the fear of possibly not paying and you then send a last-minute coupon to your subscriber list, rethink your strategy. You’re essentially teaching your customers to associate your brand with discounts. This means you are poking at your company's pricing or teaching them to wait to buy until something goes on sale.
Instead, examine every aspect of your sales operation, from the website to the fulfillment process and from the sales team to the creative team. Ask yourself what cost-effective ways can make the process excellent for customers. Have people on your team make your clients feel truly cared for.
It's said, “They won’t remember what you did, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel.”
The biggest issue with always trying to convince customers to do business with you is that it just doesn’t feel good. It not only hits your bottom line but also saps your energy and makes the work less fun. When you eradicate a fear-based dynamic of trying so hard to convince clients and start creating resonance with the right people, you'll open up more room for working with clients who appreciate your company. They'll become raving fans and a source of referrals.