You know that it’s true. Today’s customer has the internet at their fingertips with their hands full of what you want—cash. How cheap and how fast can you deliver whatever product or service it is that they need or want? It seems that this is the only set of questions that matter to the consumers willing to part with their money these days. If you don’t meet their needs, it’s no problem; someone else is just a click away. It’s really that simple.
It all begins to feel a little bit like speed dating; almost as if they are picking the right relationship for a one night stand. What happened to meaningful relationships? Are ideals like romance, courtship, seduction and commitment a thing of the past? Is it really just all about price? Where is the loyalty in that? Has cheap become a deity to be worshipped?
Think about this: Imagine you show up at a speed dating event and proceed to take too long at each table, demand that things slow down and insist on long deep conversations—what would happen? You would be asked to leave because you’re gumming up the works. The same holds true for your business, make sure you’re giving your customer what THEY want and expect at this very moment. After their immediate need is understood and met, only then can you begin the process of relationship building, not before.
The conundrum is that cheap has its place, but odds are your business was never designed to withstand long periods of price cutting. You may still believe in value added and concepts like quality work and long term relationships. You might be old school and refuse to be sucked into the black hole of the price wars. After all, who can’t name a competitor that rose like the sun based on price only to burn out like a super nova when the sales slowed? Having said that, something feels out of whack—the old methods and beliefs are failing to deliver during this tough economic cycle and you are losing sales or worse yet, customers. What should you do?
The answer may lie in a hybrid of the two opposing points of view. In other words, if a product or service you offer becomes commoditized you only have one real option—sell that product or service based on price and adjust costs accordingly while seeking out new, more profitable products and/or service opportunities. You see, if you are a complete slave to either model, right or wrong, you are losing.
Make adjustments to cater to the speed daters, they have little time and want instant gratification. Also, don’t forget the relationship work; which takes time, effort, loyalty and sincere concern for the other party. The important point to remember is that a speed dating encounter could end up as a long term caring relationship! What you need is a speed dating plan that works its way into a relationship plan.
The answer is not simple; you need two sets of plans. The first step is to identify speed dating trends in your industry and adapt to that model quickly. At the same time you need to look for relationship opportunities and train your staff in the art of becoming a Professional Services Firm. Remember the old retailers’ adage—the profit is in the corners. In this case, the profit comes from identifying relationship opportunities and guiding your client away from the false god of cheap and into the power of working and trusting in you.