Sell solutions, not just goods, to win and retain customers
Posted Monday, June 11 2012 at 18:02
At a recent workshop for entrepreneurs, the facilitator asked a question that we were not supposed to answer until the end of workshop: “What business are you in?”
We all know our business, however, a close look will reveal that many fail due to inability to correctly address this question.
The direct answer is obvious. Because sellers of books, stationery and any other item can easily say so.
To answer the question correctly requires a mental shift so that you see yourself as solution provider rather than a merchandiser.
Think of what value you are giving your customers rather than what you are selling. For instance, if you sell or publish books, you see yourself as a provider of knowledge.
This means in the event that the world becomes paperless due to technological changes you will still be in business.
A publisher should ask: Are my customers really craving printed books or they are looking for a convenient way of getting knowledge and information?
This will help you to think of other ways of selling knowledge conveniently such as e-format.
Another clear example is probably Equity Bank. As they started on their way to success, either by design or by default, they did not define themselves as a banking or building society. They defined themselves as a financial solution provider.
I remember my teacher telling us one of the characteristics of a current account is that the bank charges ledger fees. Later in life, my first current account was at Equity, without a ledger fee. Up to now, they don’t charge a ledger fees, only transaction fees, unlike other banks.
They didn’t think of themselves as a bank in the ordinary sense. They looked at themselves as providers of financial services to people who were looking for an alternative to costly banking services.
When loaning its customers, it broke the conventional banking rules by using household goods or group solidarity as security.
They did not even look at big players in the industry as their competition. They focused on a different segment — the unbanked or unsatisfied with the mainstream banking.
To answer our big question, you need to look at it from five dimensions.
First, what are you selling? Books are traditionally a means of storing information and passing it to readers.