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When Customers Really Want To Buy–Perishable Demand!

by David Brock on April 21st, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I really needed to make a relatively major purchase in support of a project I was doing for a client.  I did my due diligence, found a few alternatives, found the solution I really wanted and called a salesperson.  I got his voicemail, left a message outlining my urgent requirement.  I also sent an email, saying in wanted to give him my money as quickly as possible.  Then I waited…..  and waited….   and waited…..   I put another call in, another email, and waited… and waited…

Needless to say, I went to my second alternative, it was actually less expensive than my original selection.  The sales team was very responsive, understood the urgency of my need, and bent over backwards to help me out.  I’m an extremely happy customer–I’ve already sent to other companies to them for business.

I wish this was unusual, but it’s too common.  The funny thing is, sales people constantly are telling me how difficult it is to find business.  We read about the challenge of prospecting–whether you favor cold calling or any other approach, sales people struggle to find opportunities, they struggle to get in front of potential customers.

With the possible exception of the IPad 2, demand is perishable–always.  If a customer calls with a need to buy, it’s critical to respond as quickly as possible.  No let me change that, regardless of when a customer calls, it’s critical to respond as quickly as possible.

But the problem is even greater.  In the days when a primary function of a sales person was to inform and educate customers to help them make a buying decision, often customers couldn’t or wouldn’t move forward until they had discussions with a few sales people. Now, customers are getting this information and education elsewhere–from other customers, the web, lots of places.  Yes, in my purchase decision, I still had a few questions that I needed to have answered before I purchased, so there still is an educational role for sales people.  But here’s the problem–by the time the customer picks up a phone and initiates a call with a sales person, they are probably very close to making a buying decision. 

In today’s new buying, responsiveness becomes even more critical.  Customers are getting sales people involved later in their buying process.  When they do, they are probably very close to the buying decision.  They have probably developed a short list of alternatives, they probably have funding, they probably have an intense desire to move forward.

Demand is perishable!  When the customer calls, responsiveness is not only professional, it is critical in winning business.  Frankly, unless you are comatose in the hospital, with smartphones and mobile phones, laptops, the web, I can’t understand why a sales person can’t respond to a call within 24 hours–or even less.

How long does it take you to respond when a customer calls?  Are you losing opportunities that were yours for the winning, or are you making responsiveness a competitive differentiator?

I do wonder when that sales person will ever get back to me—I wonder if he’s just getting too much business to respond, it’s not obvious when I look at his company’s latest earnings report.

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