What People Believe Matters
Last week I decided to purchase a watch as a birthday gift for my wife. As I was thinking about where to purchase it, my mind ran through a mental list of potential stores.
My perceptions, my beliefs, about each of these retailers, influenced my decision about where I should to go to find the perfect gift. My beliefs: Store A – too predictable, nothing really special or unique. Store B – Sells nice clothing and accessories, not watches. Store C – way too expensive. I opted to go to Store D, a long shot that I believed would have what I was looking for.
Ultimately, I learned my beliefs about Store A, B and C were wrong. After the fact I learned that Store A had some unique gifts, that Store B did indeed sell quality watches, and that store C had recently added a more affordable line to their store. I held inaccurate beliefs, or assumptions, about these local retailers.
Based upon the values we hold, we choose to buy or avoid certain brands, products or services. Beliefs about the company or brand are evaluated as for consistency with what we value. As a result, we purchase or we don’t.
In business, beliefs are important
In business, inaccurate customer beliefs can take on a life of their own. A story of a bad product can stick around like an old piece of gum on a shoe, or the emotional embarrassment of being attacked and shamed by customer service leaves a bad memory in a customer forever.
Knowing what your customers believe about you is important
- If a customer believes that an auto manufacturer cares about profit more than safety, how likely would he be to buy a vehicle for his young family?
- If a B2B distributor believes that a manufacturer sales rep will say anything to close a deal, how would that impact the distributor next order?
- If a shareholder believes a CEO who is projecting a significant increase in profits, how would that impact share price?
- If a vendor believes a rumor that your company is in financial trouble, how would that impact their credit terms with you?
- If an employee believes in management’s ability to double the size of the company, how would that impact their productivity?
- If customer is looking for expertise in solving a problem that is in your sweetspot, but doesn’t believe you “do that,” how likely is she to engage you?
- If your customer believes you’re only good providing one product or service, vulnerable are you to a competitor?
- If your customer believes you’re the same company today you were 10 years ago, is it possible your customer will make you part of a their next-generation planning?
Recently, a major global manufacturer engaged us to find out what their customers believe about them and to probe the unique value this manufacturer offers.
One customer comment surprised them: “Working with [Company] is like working with the Wizard of Oz. You never know who is pulling all the levers behind the curtain.”
While the comment created some laughter, the grim reality set in that their customers did not understand or trust the company. They just bought product.
As leaders of business, we are constantly surrounded by the unique products and services we offer clients. Often, we take great pride in the offerings. But we miss the fact that many of our customers hold wrong beliefs and assumptions about our company, our people and culture, and the products and services we offer. Too often customers don’t engage you because of their own ignorance.
What do your customers believe about you?
What exactly do your customers, employees, vendors and partners believe about you? Is it true? Is it misinformed? Where are you missing opportunity?
Ask yourself these three questions:
1. What do your customers believe are the chances of you coming up with significant innovation, or outstanding customer service?
Example: One of our clients was surprised to find out their biggest customer was ending a years-old relationship because the customer didn’t believe the client had critical processes in place. The client, unbeknownst to their customer, was leading the industry in process improvement.
2. What do your employees believe are the reasons you made significant changes last year? What do they believe are the true motivations of your management team?
Example: One non-profit senior leadership team member was literally in tears when he heard the level of misinformation and mistrust of employees at the field level.
3. What do your vendors believe about your power in the market and your willingness to help them grow?
Example: After hearing of our client’s vision and growth strategy, one vendor quickly invested nearly $1 million in our client’s facility to increase needed capacity.
If your customers have a wrong impression or belief about who you are, how you do business and how you can help them, you’re likely leaving real dollars on the table. A recent client engaged us to help them grow. Company leaders believed their customers understood their valuable position in the marketplace. Not true. Customers purchased products, but were switching away from our client because they didn’t believe the client was interested in being a partner.
If people have the wrong perception, it will be an albatross, holding your growth back. And of course, if you don’t manage the information about your company, rest assured your competitors will.
If customers have a full picture, you’re likely to capture more of their business. If you could capture 1-3% more business from each of your customers, how would that impact your growth? Helping people know and understand the truth about who you are and what you do is essential to creating sustainable growth and brand loyalty.
What people believe matters.
The Valcort 35 Keys to Business Growth
Over many years and hundreds of client relationships and strategic marketing opportunities, we have established the Valcort 35 Keys to Business Growth, best practices that build trust, align values with products and practices, and create organic growth. We are exploring these 35 practices, one at a time, on these pages. Find them all, as they’re introduced, here.