It’s been an eye-opening couple of weeks for me. As our company evaluates its survey technology solutions, we’re talking with different providers about what they offer and how they fit our business. More than anything, what’s surprised me is how much effort it takes sometimes to buy something.
For instance, I’m probably halfway through one company’s sales cycle and it already looks like this: phone call, webex, webex, conference call, email, conference call with larger group, email with purchase specs, pending conference call to discuss next steps.
To borrow from Staples … where’s the “easy button”?
Going through this process has been a helpful reminder about keeping the buyer’s perspective in mind and creating an easy experience. That’s as true in business-to-business relationships as it is in the business-to-consumer world.
Let’s say you’re Boeing. You make very expensive airplanes. One of your prospects, China Eastern, made a mistake and bought their fleet from Airbus, but now they want to switch. Only problem is, they have all those Airbus jets that still have a long lifespan. If China Eastern could press their “easy button” those jets would disappear and they could start new with Boeing planes. So why not buy those used Airbus jets from China Eastern, then turn around and sell them your new planes?
Or let’s say you’re a butcher. You sell everything a customer needs for a great barbeque, from steaks to sausages to sides. But you’re a small business with traditional hours, so if your customers want to crank up the grill and you’re not open, they have to find another source – usually one of lesser quality, even though they’d rather spend more to get the good stuff from you. If they could press their “easy button” they’d have access to your products anytime the urge strikes. So if you’re Steffen Schuetze, you create a meat vending machine.
Or what if you’re a restaurant, like Urban Cookhouse in Birmingham? You serve good, fresh, locally sourced, carefully prepared food. You offer a casual setting, menus that are creative without being pretentious (chipotle-braised pork sandwich, anyone?), and prices that are reasonable but certainly not cheap. You’re located in a trendy, pedestrian-friendly area that attracts younger couples and families in addition to empty nesters. So what’s the problem? Well, taking extra care with food preparation translates into a few extra minutes waiting at the table… probably no big deal for the twenty-somethings on their third date, but a headache for parents trying to keep their kids entertained. What’s the “easy button”? Anything to mollify a kid.
There’s always an “easy button”, even if it’s not always easy to find or push. Boeing buys Airbus jets, Steffen Schuetze invents a sausage vending machine, Urban Cookhouse offers free kid-sized portions of Cheerios.
What are you doing to make your customers’ lives easier?