Unplug & Drink Coffee: Getting Potential Customers Over the Line

back to basics 25 Aug, 2014

It may seem odd that our August Space design features typewriters, pocket watches, old school telephones and a token cup of tea. Especially given we are a modern day marketing & design agency that embraces and, for the most part, respects new technologies and the efficiencies they bring to our lives. So what exactly is happening in Space atm?

Our theme for August is centred on getting back to basics when marketing to potential customers. While our social media and instant messaging accounts, emails, e-newsletters and vast array of other digital tools make it easy for us to be everywhere to potential customers, in many instances, it’s just not enough to get them over the line that first time.

When considering entering a new business relationship people want to know that their needs are clearly understood, and they want to be able to trust that they will be met. This often involves time, intent listening, clarifying questions and judging reactions, all of which are just about impossible when communicating online.

To be fair to the majority of us, this isn’t new intel. We are acutely aware that we need to pick up the phone and attend a few meetings to build rapport with potential clients. So why isn’t this happening as frequently as it should? Why are we hiding behind screens of all shapes and sizes?

Because things don’t always go according to plan and we humans don’t like confrontation, awkward situations, feeling unprepared and not having an answer. When we meet a potential customer for the first time they come with lots of questions, and they want answers. Why should I choose you? What are you going to do for me? How will you be better than my last provider? Where do I stand if something doesn’t go according to plan?

And typically, black & white responses don’t cut the mustard. The challenge lies in providing truthful information and instilling faith without dismissing genuine concerns. We need to sell our company and our services without coming across as forceful. We can’t talk poorly about industry competitors, but we have to persuade our potential client that we are better than the rest. And of course, we have to be charming, appropriately sensitive, intelligent and easy to be around the entire time.

Our digital communication tools shield us from the emotional complexities of these situations. Emails desensitise us from the feelings of our potential customer –behind a computer screen we can’t see their frustrations, concerns and scepticism. And even if we do pick up on some of these emotions in the content of an email, we have the option of presenting facts and bypassing the hard stuff altogether. Essentially, e-comms in the early stages of relationship building are the easy way out.

It’s time to man-up friends. If we really want the job we have to pick up the phone, go to a meeting, catch-up for coffee, answer the hard questions, and build rapport.