How customers can defend selecting you

August 30, 2012

By Bob Johnson, NAID CEO

In my last NAIDnotes entry, I explained why the biggest favor you can do for your customer and your company is to make sure the customer is prepared to articulate exactly why they are using your service. If you have not already, I suggest you review my last entry before reading further. Today I’ll talk about what such justification might look like and how it can be conveyed to the client.

If your contacts’ bosses were to suddenly say, “Hey, I know you have a shredding company already but my wife’s company uses a free service. Why are we paying?” Would your customers know what to say to defend using your service? If not, your whole business is based solely on the hope that the question never comes up. That is pretty scary. From my perspective, you owe it to your customers to make sure they can answer that question confidently and without hesitation.

There are two difficult tasks that factor into this challenge: providing an effective response to the question and then making sure your contact is aware of it. By the way, none of what I say in this post negates the importance of your company’s relationships with your customers. That is the minimum requirement. If they do not like and trust you, they will never try to defend selecting and keeping your service or product. In fact, arming your customer with the justification for using your service should actually improve that relationship. However, I am not implying this is a foolproof plan. This strategy is simply to increase the odds of protecting your accounts.

How could your customers respond to their bosses’ question?

For example, “The current data protection regulations make us responsible for having a specific and thorough selection process of any third party company that will touch our information. Changing now, in a knee-jerk fashion would violate those regulations.” Depending on how confidently they say it, that could work, or at least buy some time. On the downside, this response is a little light on actual differentiators.

Although the above suggestion is sufficient, I prefer a response that is a little more concrete. For instance, “Since we are required by law to have defined criteria for selecting this type of vendor, we only looked at vendors that had the right certifications and the proper professional liability indemnifications. Our current vendor has everything we needed and at a fair price.” Another possibility is, “From a legal perspective, these vendors need specific qualifications. Besides that, our current vendor is providing free training that we are required to have anyway. If we had to pay for it, the cost would be enormous.”

There are two keys to developing the answer that will defend your firm. First, you need to identify the tangible and intangible things you bring to the table and, the more tangibles you have, the better. Second, you need to write it out. Your client needs to have it committed to memory, which means it will not work if it is just a general concept. It should be one or two sentences.

Since I am running long, next Tuesday I will write about how you teach your clients to defend choosing your service. In the meantime, think about what sentence or two you would provide your customers to defend selecting your firm to meet their destruction needs.