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Why Giving Free Advice and Being a Showroom is Good Business

Posted On - 23/05/2013 10:30:05

How can helping people with advice and letting them showroom you be good business?Customers who ask questions are great - a chance to talk and build rapport.

But difficult customers want more – typically how to do stuff. Some pop-in constantly to pick-your-brains. People like this bother you - yes?

And I know you don't like the idea of writing guides, doing talks or product demos. How can these be worthwhile when they're clearly just giving away your expertise for free? How can it make sense to waste the time and money? And how can it possibly be good business to encourage customers to ‘showroom' you so they can go buy at PC World or Tesco?

The true cost of exploitation

It's well know as human beings we ‘feel' bad things far more than good. It's the basis for the famous ‘sh1t sandwich' – the advice that says if you need to give someone bad news, the way to help them keep a sense of proportion about it is to put it in between two pieces of good.

And it doesn't help that as a nation we like to grumble and get all embarrassed about success. But the reality is this – whilst you will have people taking advantage of your help and assistance and yes, if you did educational talks and product demos they would do the same, the number of times this will actually happen is far less than you think. What's more you'll more than offset the number of times they do with the hugely increased sales that result.

Pretty much everyone has the 'persistent non-buyer', the customer who never quite makes it to actually be one, the friendly-face who drops in and extracts knowledge out of you - but how many do you actually have? As a proportion of your whole customer base, just how big is it? And what is it really costing you? How much work are you honestly losing? And how much work isn't getting done because your time's taken up talking to them?

Make the irrational, rational

When you help people you created indebtedness. A sense of ‘thank you - I owe you'. And the more times you do it, the deeper, the more pertinent, the more beneficial the help, the more indebtedness turns to obligation. That they almost have a duty to help you back. Together these things spell s-a-l-e.

Now you can choose to dismiss whether idebtedness leads to sales this is true or not but you have to get this. Research shows 82% of customers will stop using you if they have a poor customer experience. More, 79% of them will tell others about it. And the biggest reason for them having a bad time? ‘Rude staff'. It's said reputations are hard won and easily lost and if value yours as much as so many of you tell me you do, you will do whatever you can to preserve yours.

In other words whatever your feelings towards people, whatever your own suspicions of their motivations, none of these things actually matter - you just need to go out of your way to be helpful. You need to make being seen as even remotely rude as completely and utterly impossible. So making a point of advising and helping customers, over what it takes to sell to them or create conversation, is not an option. It's a necessity. What is optional is how much of what you tell them.

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