When the product or service you sell is fairly common, you have to stress what makes you better, such as the quality of your service or the background of your staff. Before you do, though, make sure you’re pitching something that matters to your customer, not just to you.

 I got an example of how NOT to do this when I called my plumber for a price quote on a furnace. The last time I called they sent someone with bruised knuckles, greasy blue jeans and a two days growth of beard – just what you want in a plumber who’s too busy to look good. But my plumber has since joined a big national franchise and sent two guys wearing clean, pressed shirts who made a big show of putting on orange booties over their shoes to keep my carpet clean.

 They put me through a forced march through their glossy brochures, going through their  national warranty programs, the options I had to complain if I was dissatisfied and mentioned, several times, the fact they do criminal background checks on all their employees.

The more they talked, the less impressed I was. What I wanted was a detailed quote on a furnace, but when they returned a week later they flipped open a binder to three obviously well-worn pages showing their standard three furnace options. All the sizzle about their quality and professionalism actually made me suspicious because they didn’t deliver what I repeatedly asked for: Three detailed price quotes for a “good,” “better” and “best” heating system.

By the time they left, I was wondering how much they had to raise their prices to pay for their glossy marketing brochures and fancy carpet booties. I also couldn’t help but wonder whether the fellows I’d let into my house had REALLY passed the criminal background check. The lesson? Whether you’re selling a gas furnace or a Fibre Channel SAN, ask yourself if the “extras” you’re touting mean half as much to the customer as they do to you.

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

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