It has been a while since I wrote something that is 100% solely focused on running a business. This tidbit of advice is like many things, powerful, simple but not easy. It is my attempt to pull in the advice of several of my mentors, Zach Even-Esh, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Bob Burg and John David Mann.
This piece of advice is simple.
If you want to succeed you have to help people find the right product, even if it is not yours!
The first part of that is pretty straight forward. And most people would stand up and say…I do that. I help people find the right product. Most people chase customers and try to find new and creative ways to get them into their doors. But most of us tend to live in the delusion that our product is the best and that it meets the needs of all people. That if we can “sell” them on us, then we are good to go. We live in the world that a sale is a sale is a sale and we need lots of sales. But do we really?
All of the people listed above will talk about things such as finding your niche, finding your tribe, building your brand and identity, and providing more value to your customers experience and they all fit together into a nice, neat package that includes being willing to direct your customer to someone else.
Why would anyone say no to a sale?
That is the ultimate question, right? We all have bills to pay, employees to pay and lights to keep on. Why in the world would I want to turn someone away? The answer is that by simply selling to them, you are not selling your true product and they are not getting what they are looking for. As Seth Godin would say, you are trying to pull someone from another tribe into yours. This will not end well for you.
If you promise a product that does X, Y, and Z and cannot deliver, guess what your reviews will look like? What do you think that customer is going to tell their friends about your product or services? How many people will you lose because you tried to fit that square peg into your round hole?
And from the other angle?
Let’s say you direct that customer to a product that is exactly what they are looking for, how are you viewed? If you asked that customer for a simple review, don’t you think that they would give you glowing praise because you cared? What do you think happens when their friends ask them about your business?
Their response, hopefully, transitions from one of, “they told me they did this; but lied” to one of “they were honest with me that their product wasn’t the best for my needs, but cared enough to help me out. They might be a good fit for you.” You are still getting positive feedback in spite of not making a sale. The image and perception of your business is one of caring and not one of making the sell at any cost.
It is hard, though. It is hard to not get caught up in the quest to make the sell because we all see the looming bills and challenges, but I challenge you to make sure you are growing your tribe the right way. I encourage you to be willing to say no and help people find the best product for their needs. I encourage you not to change your standards in order to make a sell.
Care about the customer and sometimes, that means letting the sale go.