Archive of ‘Sales’ category

Sorry, our product wouldn’t work, but theirs would

Sometimes, helping your customers means not selling them anything. Last week I came across a great example of that when I was in Dieppe, France. I had deliberately not brought any other electronics than my iPhone to make sure I would not do any work. And that is when you know you will run into another problem. My problem turned out to be the memory cards of our digital camera. When we drove into Dieppe on our first Saturday to enjoy the festivities around La Solitaire du Figaro, we noticed that we forgot to empty our Xd memory cards. As our camera is almost five years old, it is regarded an ancient relic of the days when 5 megapixel pictures were great.

Stretching my French, I went around a mall to find a number of shops who were very willing to sell me a 2Gb Xd card for my camera. However, as a true Dutchman, I had found that prices for the card ranged between € 17,90 to € 34,95. So I decided to visit a last large electronics store to see what their offer would be. And I was rewarded as Darty did have the cheapest 2Gb card there. However, to my surprise I was approached by a salesman as I took the memory card off the rack. He asked me if he could help and what camera I intended to use the card for. I explained the situation to him and said that I needed to have a card as we ran out of space on the others. He assured me it would not work on my camera. Being stubborn, I decided that I wanted to buy it anyway as I had not seen any cards smaller than the one I had in my hands. But my salesman insisted that I wouldn’t buy it and he called a colleague over who went through great lenghts to explain to this foreigner where I could find a small photo store that would stock 256Mb cards that would suit our camera much better.

I came out of that store a happy man. Not only was I prevented to buy a product that would not work for me, I was also pointed at another store that would have the product that I needed. The two salesmen were great, because as I decided I was going to give it a try anyway, they insisted that I should not buy from them, but go to a place which suited my needs much better. And it did. As a result, next time I am in Dieppe and I need electronics, I know I will head out to the Darty store.

De klant als verstorende factor in het perfecte productieproces

Voor sommige mensen is de klant soms gewoon lastig. Als zij lekker aan het werk zijn moet een klant ze niet storen met triviale zaken als vragen of verzoeken. Er wordt gezucht, gesteund en soms erger. Er wordt gezegd dat mensen er niet zijn, omdat dit interne stuk eerst af moet. Voor mij is het een ergernis. Uiteindelijk is het de klant die de organisatie bestaansrecht geeft.

Vorige week heb ik daarover in een twitter discussie een uitspraak gedaan die Jacqueline Fackeldey heeft aangegrepen om een hele goede en terechte blogpost te schrijven. Heel herkenbaar en goed om te lezen. Een aanrader.

Mijn tweet - met dank aan Jacqueline Fackeldey voor de screenshot.

Mijn tweet - met dank aan Jacqueline Fackeldey voor de screenshot.

De heffing is geweldig. “Overheid, help!”

De heffing is geweldig. “Overheid, help!”
Vandaag stond in Trouw te lezen dat de commissie Brinkman vandaag adviseert om een heffing op internetaansluitingen in te stellen vanuit de overheid. De heffing moet gebruikt gaan worden om innovatieve initiatieven in de krantenwereld te financieren. In april besloot de Stichting Onderhandelingen Thuiskopievergoeding (SONT) al om een heffing in te voeren op digitale opname en afspeel appraratuur met een opslagmogelijkheid. De heffing is geweldig.
Het klinkt misschien wat overdreven, maar ehct, de heffing is geweldig. De heffing is het enige middel dat er voor zorgt dat een verouderd businessmodel toch kan blijven renderen. Want uiteindelijk komt het daar op neer. Het internet is immers niet nieuw. De kranten hebben al heel lang aan zien komen dat er andere maniere van nieuwsgaring gaan ontstaan. Ze konden op hun klompen aanvoelen dat het businessmodel dat is ontstaan rond 1605 met Relation, wellicht de 21e eeuw niet zou gaan overleven. Ook omdat het delen van nieuws via het internet al een van de meest populaire activiteiten was.
Op een andere manier geldt hetzelfde voor artiesten. De structuren die de afgelopen eeuw zo succesvol zijn geweest, worden langzaam onderuit gehaald door het gemak van downloaden en bestandsdeling. Ook hier konden de platenmaatschappijen al jaren geleden aan zien komen dat de huidige manier van verkopen langzaam zijn einde zou gaan vinden. Half jaren negentig waren muziek en films al te vinden via de ftp sites van diverse universiteiten. En hoewel de kwaliteit toen nog te wensen overliet, was te voorzien dat dat binnen afzienbare tijd zou gaan veranderen.
Op het moment dat je geconfronteerd wordt met een verouderd businessmodel en teruglopende inkomsten, kon je maar twee dingen doen. Je kon erin berusten en langzaam ten onder gaan, of je kon je schouders er onder zetten en een nieuw model maken om weer geld te verdienen. Nu is er de derde optie. Je gaat naar de overheid, je klaagt en je stelt een commissie in. De commissie brengt dan een advies uit voor een heffing, zodat je niet zelf hoeft te investeren in een nieuw businessmodel voor je product. Ideaal. Maar als ik heel eerlijk ben, dan zie ik dat niet als meer dan een doekje voor het bloeden. Want succesvolle ondernemingen en succesvolle producten komen voor uit visie. Vanuit die visie komen ook de mogelijkheden om geld te verdienen met je product. En mocht dat niet meteen lukken, dan pas je je businessmodel wat aan, net zo lang tot je verdient. Want consumenten zijn best bereid om te betalen, als het maar is voor iets waarin ze waarde zien.

Vandaag stond in Trouw te lezen dat de commissie Brinkman vandaag adviseert om een heffing op internetaansluitingen in te stellen vanuit de overheid. De heffing moet gebruikt gaan worden om innovatieve initiatieven in de krantenwereld te financieren. In april besloot de Stichting Onderhandelingen Thuiskopievergoeding (SONT) al om een heffing in te voeren op digitale opname en afspeel appraratuur met een opslagmogelijkheid. De heffing is geweldig.

Het klinkt misschien wat overdreven, maar ehct, de heffing is geweldig. De heffing is het enige middel dat er voor zorgt dat een verouderd businessmodel toch kan blijven renderen. Want uiteindelijk komt het daar op neer. Het internet is immers niet nieuw. De kranten hebben al heel lang aan zien komen dat er andere maniere van nieuwsgaring gaan ontstaan. Ze konden op hun klompen aanvoelen dat het businessmodel dat is ontstaan rond 1605 met Relation, wellicht de 21e eeuw niet zou gaan overleven. Ook omdat het delen van nieuws via het internet al een van de meest populaire activiteiten was.

Op een andere manier geldt hetzelfde voor artiesten. De structuren die de afgelopen eeuw zo succesvol zijn geweest, worden langzaam onderuit gehaald door het gemak van downloaden en bestandsdeling. Ook hier konden de platenmaatschappijen al jaren geleden aan zien komen dat de huidige manier van verkopen langzaam zijn einde zou gaan vinden. Half jaren negentig waren muziek en films al te vinden via de ftp sites van diverse universiteiten. En hoewel de kwaliteit toen nog te wensen overliet, was te voorzien dat dat binnen afzienbare tijd zou gaan veranderen.

Op het moment dat je geconfronteerd wordt met een verouderd businessmodel en teruglopende inkomsten, kon je maar twee dingen doen. Je kon erin berusten en langzaam ten onder gaan, of je kon je schouders er onder zetten en een nieuw model maken om weer geld te verdienen. Nu is er de derde optie. Je gaat naar de overheid, je klaagt en je stelt een commissie in. De commissie brengt dan een advies uit voor een heffing, zodat je niet zelf hoeft te investeren in een nieuw businessmodel voor je product. Ideaal. Maar als ik heel eerlijk ben, dan zie ik dat niet als meer dan een doekje voor het bloeden. Want succesvolle ondernemingen en succesvolle producten komen voor uit visie. Vanuit die visie komen ook de mogelijkheden om geld te verdienen met je product. En mocht dat niet meteen lukken, dan pas je je businessmodel wat aan, net zo lang tot je verdient. Want consumenten zijn best bereid om te betalen, als het maar is voor iets waarin ze waarde zien.

The masses are dead

Ahhhh, the good old days. The days in which every company was there for its own good and was solely focussed on making as much profit as possible. The time when marketing was push and all you needed to do was broadcast the positives of your product as much and as loud as possible. The good old days. The days when you could be a marketing executive and mainly be concerned about the way your suit looked so people would admire you and your success. Your full page adds oozed smugness and glorious satisfaction based on your product. The glorydays of the P’s of marketing.

Snap out of it. There is no more use in trying to find the perfect five P’s to get the largest group of average customers for your product as there is use in going the manual for your dial telephone as a guidline for using your PDA. The average customer does not exist. And these days it shows more than ever. And as a brand, you need to be aware of this. In fact, you need to be aware that whatever you are doing, whoever you are and whatever you are making, you are a brand. And a brand needs to appeal to people. Not to the masses, but to the person.

Do you know your customers? Do you know who they are? Do you know what they are interested in? Do you know what they care about? Do you know what makes them tick? Lets face it, in todays world just sending them a nicely formulated mass mail message with their name on it will not make it happen. And you don’t have to. Todays technology can help you learn so much about your customers. Enough that will enable you to relate to them and dialogue with them, not just talk to them.

How to sell your house

It is that time of year again. The Christmas specials of everything seem to fill the doormat as soon as you have cleared it up again. Honestly, nobody really does anything special with the Christmas special. It is just another opportunity to copy paste last years’ Christmastree graphics, Santa’s, sleighs and all kinds of red nosed animals into otherwise product-focussed publications. One of the fields where this happens most, is the field of the realtors. It is funny to see that many are excited a couple of weeks before the special is released, but when I see it, I can only be disappointed. Especially in the current climate.

Lets be honest for a minute. The housing market is not really doing well at the moment. December is not a good month to sell in the first place, but right now it seems everything has been on sale for months. And that gets me to the question, why do people hire a realtor in the first place? Well, one of the main reasons would be because they feel he is much better to get the word out on the sale than they ever could. Another reason would be because you want to outsource the hassle. Though I completely  agree with the last reason, the first reason seems to be untrue nowadays.

What is it that realtors expect buyers to run up their doorstep and beg them to sell them a house? What is it that makes them advertise in the same way for over twenty years and probably longer? What I am looking for would be a realtor that makes a difference. A realtor that makes sure my house gets noticed. Because honestly, I care about nothing else except the sale of my house. As long as my house reaches the target audience and someone comes along to buy it, a lot is allowed. As an example, look at this youtube video by Mike Lefebvre. (I know it is not new, but it is relevant.)

So, if you are in the real estate business, ask yourself why your customers hire you. And what you can do different to make that sale happen.

What is your answer?

In a previous post I talked about finding out what your customer really wants. Even though the whole thing seems pretty obvious, it seems as if interpretation always wins over plain listening. AS an easy example I would like to look at a situation which has to do with information retrieval. What a contractor is really looking for, is something that will tell him where the cables and pipes are exactly before he starts digging. What the person storing the information wants, is an easy map that can be filed as piping for water in second street. So when the contractor comes in and asks him what pipes he has to mind he just hands him a stack of maps. Easy to find and easy to hand over. But what the contractor would really love, would be a gps overlay on the city streets so he knows where he can point his digger when he arrives on the site.

Does this mean you need to work in new ways? It can. It means letting go of what is most convenient to you and offering service to your customers. Will they like it? They will love it. Everybody loves their suppliers to lend a hand getting the job done. And they will return.

What is the question

Do you know what your customer wants? Do you really know what your customer wants? It might seem like an obvious question, but very few people actually do. Everyone has his or her customers. The question is what they want from you. What do they want you to do? What is it they are looking for? 

The answer can not be found in books. The answer can not be found in best practices and the answer can never be found by asking people who do the same as you do. The question can only be answered by asking your customer. By listening to them and by looking at what it is they want need to achieve to reach their goals. And that might be something completely different from what you are thinking.

Conforming to the market will kill you

This week Vodafone found out that they have customers who care. Not about their brand, not about their services, but about the package. Vodafone was offering the highest speed mobile internet available on the Dutch market and they were offering it at only a tenner. Starting it was easy and so was using it. And then it all went wrong. Vodafone announced that they would be following the market on the speed of mobile internet. And this meant they would reduce the speed to less than a tenth of the current speed, without giving another option or reducing the price. What happened next is something Vodafone could have expected from the beginning. Their customers spoke up. They talked on forums, they talked on blogs, they talked on twitter and everywhere else. The whole deal even hit the Dutch government. And slowly it sank in with Vodafone that this might not be the way to do it. That this might just hurt their client base. And they listened. Yesterday afternoon Vodafone announced that their plans were off the table and that all changed would be reverted. Great. Except that they did go all the way in implementing them. And this will have earned them a lot of sceptisism from the people that would promote them otherwise. And that will consider other providers if they offer the same speed at the same cost. vodafone has just found out that if you have a tribe, and you go against it, it will go against you. And that hurts you even if you revert your decision within four days. It would have been better to consider all the possible options before launching the plan. To talk with their customers about options and to listen to them. It would have made all the difference.

Earn the right to be heard

Yesterday I talked to a recruitment agency. They approached me a while ago and they wanted to business with me. I set them one condition for an inititating meeting. I asked her to bring a relevant resume. If not, I would not make the appointment. I didn’t think of that anymore, until I received a phone call yesterday morning. She called in saying that she had two resume’s, but that none of them matched my rofile 100 percent, but that she thought that the people could fit the job if we wanted them to. But she also said that she would understand if I wanted to cancel the meeting on those grounds. I did not expect that. But I told her she could come and we would go over the resumes. And that is when she earned the right to be heard. The perfect position to be in, if you want to sell.

Common interests, feedback and appreciation

Last week I received an invite to the beta launch of Wayzon.com. Not specifically interesting as I get invites more often, but as it is close to an idea I used to have, I thought it was worth a try. After registration I came into a very pleasant looking visual representation of people that have similar interests to mine and who are on the same network. That is a great idea. One that I was talking about a year ago or so. Anyway, as I went over more of the details, I found a good couple of points which I would consider changing. As I am a demanding customer and one that likes to let people know what he thinks, I replied to the mail with the invite. I received a response within ten minutes thanking me for the suggestions and after a quick exchange of some suggestions by email, I received an extra mail telling me they were going to send me a t-shirt.

To be honest, I am not to be bought with a t-shirt. But what I do fall for is the service that is there. If we pull this thing apart it is a very basic way of dealing with your customers. A customer tries your product, he gets back to you with feedback, you tell the customer how you are going to del with it and then you give him something to show your appreciation. How many companies actually do that? And how many do I write about? There you go. On a very simple, very small scale, this is how it works. So are you rewarding your most valuable customers for their feedback on your business/product/service? Or do you not even give them a chance to make the suggestions. Because they will talk about you anyway, but it is your choice what they are going to be telling.

Possible recession, or possible opportunity

Right now, if you are not talking about the US elections, you are talking about the possible recessions which might hit the world. And it probably will. Mainly because the media want it to. But that is another story. For many people, a possible recession generates uncertainty and doubt about the future. It is a hard time. Or is it? Is a recession something to scare us, or is it something we need to face head on. Something we need to think about. Not long and hard, but quick and hard. Because in a time of recession the survivors are the ones that have been able to adapt quickly enough to the new situation. In a time of recession it becomes more and more clear that your relationships matter. Because it will be the customers you have the best relationship with, that will keep coming back. Even when your product or service costs a bit more than your neighbors. In that way, a slowing economy show you what your customers think about you. Even if you are only competing on prices.
A slowing economy is a challenge. A challenge to get out there more and make more of less. Less money coming in, less advertising and less giveaways. Your key to success in this time is to make sure your relationships are solid. Because they will result in more customers, more turnover and more recommendations from your current customers to their friends. Relationships allow you to grow against the flow. Because everyone loves to be loved.

Get 5 minutes of international broadcast time

If you look out of the front doors of the Berliner Congress Center, you will see a black Ford S-Max parked right there. And it is there for a reason. Arne Hulstein has brought the car to the Web 2.0 Expo to give startups, new companies and people with great ideas a platform to promote their ideas on some great international blogs with a great audience in the Netherlands and Germany.

So, how do you get your pitch online? Head over to twitter and follow either @arnehulstein or @ernohannink. And then send them a message explaining who you are, what you do and what you want to pitch. That can get you into our car and onto the blogs. We will be there tuesday to thursday, so you do not have to miss out on any of your speakers. Just let us know what you want to do and we will get you sorted out.

Pitch to a broader audience, make a pitchstop.