People don’t buy what you sell

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They buy what it does for them

Anecdotally, as much as businesses talk about being client centric and valuing their clients, what they do is product centric and designed to extract as much value as they can from  their clients. Their not so hidden purpose is to maximise shareholder value through finding more people to buy what they sell and cross or up sell to existing clients. But customers don’t buy products or even services. They buy what the products and services do for them and that isn’t usually what most businesses sell. That’s because it is only the most successful businesses who invest their time and energy in finding out what this is, and a key tool in their armoury is their CRM strategy (don’t confuse this with a CRM system which is just a tool). 

In the book Strategic Customer Management (which I highly recommend), the authors Payne and Frow talk about four aspects of how these successful businesses add value to their clients and develop business propositions that others cannot match:

  • The core product – the actual product or service that you provide. This is where a lot of businesses stop and wait for customers to find them
  • What they expect – these are the minimal services around the product like instructions on how to use the service – which is where most businesses stop
  • Augmented services – which is where successful business differentiate themselves from the rest of the market because they enable the business to deliver what the client values such as the way that it delivers its aftersales service and build trust by doing the right thing and doing things right
  • Potential for service – which is where truly exceptional business understand the value each and every client is buying and co creates solutions which deliver that every time.

I would add another layer to this, which is emotional connection with the client that comes from authentically being focused on delivering value to them over and above a transactional brand promise. It comes from a genuine and shared vision from everyone and especially the most junior staff in a business, that its purpose is to add value to its clients. Its what the apocryphal story of the sweeper in NASA sending people to the moon is all about. In my view this fifth relationship layer, is crucial and why engaging the most junior staff in a vision of the businesses purpose that inspires them is so important. It is the focus of my good friend Olaf Hermans.
This short video explains how you can build an exceptional business through creating unbeatable business propositions and why a CRM strategy is important.