Would you like to buy a door? – The importance of customer knowledge
Janine Ambrose, sales development manager at Back Office Support Services
In case you were wondering what this title is referring to, I promise it isn’t just a momentary loss of reason. Something happened recently that made me remember a joke I heard (I think it was Bill Bailey) about someone having a terrible job as a door-to-door salesman selling doors. “Would you like to buy… oh, you’ve got one.”
What happened to make me think of this was a visit by a couple of people who wanted us to consider using their recruitment services. Some recruiters like to come and physically knock on the door (it’s something I used to do many years ago, although I wouldn’t do it now, I think business development has moved on) However, as a supplier of payroll and factoring services to the recruitment industry, I was a little surprised they asked if we used agencies. I asked if they knew what we did and they didn’t. Was I wrong to expect them to know a little of what we do?
What this rather awkward moment demonstrated is the importance of research and understanding your clients and your potential customers. Had they taken the time to do a little research on who we are and what we do, they would have been able to open up a more appropriate dialogue. It did make me think they were casting a large net in order to get a bite rather than offering a consultancy service
It is easy to look at what we do here at Back Office Support Services and make the mistake of assuming that we are all about processes, numbers and facts. These are certainly often the result of our efforts but to say that they are what is at the heart of our business would be a mistake. To effectively support our clients, we need to do more than just move information around.
The reason for this is simple. Ask any business owner what the real heart of their business is and the vast majority of them will tell you it is their team. The people who work in a business ‘are the business’ and if you want to supply that company then you really need to understand it and get to know it.
Of course, it is easy to say that when we are talking about clients we have known for years, but the truth is that with the proliferation of social media and the internet, there is no real excuse for not knowing your prospective customers. The days of the attitude where you can get by just throwing enough out there until something sticks have long gone.
Personally, I am grateful that we do business based on understanding and mutual respect rather than the pressure and blitz methods that were often employed in the past.