Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How I Saved Almost $30,000

We (meaning my family) had a need.  We just added a sixth child to our family and our faithful minivan, with a total of seven seats, was no longer sufficient to safely hold our entire crew.  Without too many 8-seaters on the market, we started looking for a new vehicle to purchase.  We found a very nice lightly-used suburban for $30,000, and it filled our need and then some.

However, something stopped us from actually making the purchase.  Sure, all the bells and whistles of the new vehicle were nice, I just could not get comfortable with spending $30,000 for another seat.  The suburban was certainly worth $30,000, but when cast in the light of our actual need, it was quite excessive.

We received a referral to a qualified company that does seat covers and installations.  For $195 we had an additional seat retro-fitted and installed between the two captain chairs in the middle row.  We did not need a new suburban because our minivan had everything else we needed, except for an eighth seat.

So, what is my point?  Too many companies focus too much on selling their product or service rather than meeting the needs of their customers.  Most customers do not know exactly what they need – they suffer from information overload.  They want an expert to get to know them and their situation, and then recommend exactly what will best fill their needs and bring them the most value.

I failed to mention our good friend who helped us through the experience.  He wholesales cars and, as an expert, helped us find the best value to fill our need.  He earned NOTHING on this transaction, but he has earned our business for life because he took time to learn about us and then, without trying to force one of his cars or other services upon us, helped us find the best deal for us.

The marketing and sales process often fails to identify the core needs of the customer.  Whether we are selling too much or too little, our best long-term proposition is to know the needs of our customers and fill them.  Up-selling is okay as long as we do not overlook the needs of our customers.