100608 Forget About The Specials

In which we are reminded to fit special promotional offers to our clients, not the reverse.

It came as a little bit of a shock. I was wrapping up a telephone conversation with Edith, a customer service representative at a clothing company from whom I buy winter outdoor clothing on line. My dad and I and other family members have been long time fans of their clothing.

I’d recently purchased more and was feeling delighted with it, even the pair of boots that was too large. So that was the focus of the call with Edith – exchanging the boots for a smaller size.


So we got to the end of the call, talking about the boots, socks, and the exchange, and she said, without ANY warning: “And we now offer our loyal customers a credit card with our company logo and…” blah blah blah through all the terms and conditions “… and would you like me to transfer you to someone who can help you sign up for the card?”


I was stunned. My trusted, long time, I’m-a-big-fan-of-yours provider was COLD PITCHING ME A CREDIT CARD. Who thought THAT would be a good idea? Who missed the part about “and now we’re going to feel just like every other company that slams product at our clients?”


I was (and still am this morning) RIPPING that they would do that.


Even one question would have been wonderful. Something like, “I don’t know whether you might find this helpful, and since the gift giving season is about to start, would you like to talk about one of our credit cards? You’ll save about 5% on your holiday purchases.”


Such a question would have put the opportunity in CONTEXT, given me a CHOICE and offered me some VALUE, and I would have felt RESPECTED. I like that: question, context, choice, value, and respect.


So, sure, this happens in the credit card world all the time, yes? This doesn’t happen in legitimate business to business sales, right?


Yup. Every time our companies run “promotional offers” and insist we call customers or prospects to pitch the offers to them, whether it’s our latest article, a new software, payroll services, office products, or banking products. The impact on the receiving customer is … who thought THIS would be a good idea?


Once, while speaking with a bank sales person whose bank runs a lot of promotional campaigns, I asked, “How do deal with the campaigns?” She said, “I don’t pay much attention. I know my clients and prospects well. I call the ones for whom a promotion is a good fit and say, ‘I was thinking about our conversations, we’re running a special price on X, and I think this is the right time for you to proceed. They love me… and I meet my goals.”


Questions, context, choice, value, and respect. FugGEDabout the specials. Focus on your clients. Fit the specials to them, not the reverse.

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