Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Memo to Big Business

Selling to small business is not just about finding a mailing list and hiring a call centre. It’s about knowing your market.

Case in point: I just got off the phone with Wells Fargo. A cheerful representative with a strong mid-west U.S. accent called to tell me that because of my business’s outstanding “profile” (i.e., they rented a list), I was eligible for a line of credit of up to $100,000. At prime plus 1.5%, which is pretty generous.

But of course they made the usual mistakes. They pretended that I had earned this privilege, when I clearly had not (my business is unincorporated, has no assets and has virtually no capital requirements). Please: if you want to earn my trust, don't start by lying to me.

Plus, they let someone call me who has a grating foreign accent. It was a mild one, to be sure, but why not use a Canadian call centre? We're a proud nation here: why not make it sound more like you actually have a presence in (and thus a commitment to) Canada?

They did some things right, though. When I said that I already have a credit line (from a Canadian bank) and didn't need hers, she was very cool about it. She asked if I would like to note down a web address and an invitation code that would let me take advantage of their offer some other time.

Why don't more people do this? It’s a marketing win-win – it lets the uninterested consumer off the hook quickly, yet it gives them a second chance to think about the offer. So I said, sure.

She then read out five numbers. I wrote them down thinking, "Good for them – they kept this simple." They were respecting my time. But then she read out four more numbers. Then three more. Then three letters. Why? With 15 digits, they have enough codes for everyone on earth, along with everyone who has ever lived on the planet. Plus everyone who ever will.

Moral: Making things easy for business owners is crucial. But you have to do in all ways, not just some.

1 comment:

Dat said...

Great article. In full agreement here with making it easiest as possible to do business with. What do you think about accessibility? I have many many ways on my website for a prospective client to reach me. Some friends have suggested that that looks too needy, that I should make it more difficult for business owners to reach me, so that when they do, they'll appreciate it.