Thriving through uncertain times

Many are the articles, posts, comments, and other interventions all over social media, TV, magazines, newspapers, and other forums about the current crisis, by opinionmakers from all walks of life, experience, and more or less legitimate backgrounds.

However, we like facts and, when assumptions, that they are based on robust and consistent arguments.

We are facing a crisis without precedent, no doubt about it. But, as in all crises before and after this one, it’s not only the crisis that has an impact on the businesses.

Crisis, at the same time, bring to the spotlight hidden problems companies and organizations usually have that impact business more than the crisis in itself: Management fragilities, bad decisions or based on insufficient or no information at all, lack of structure, organizational problems, deficient businesses models, among others.

Everybody’s also talking about the crisis as a source of business opportunities for new or re-invented businesses, distribution models, and new ways of reaching the paying client, if not for success, at least to keep afloat.

Mutatis Mutandis, this is old news and, as a matter of fact, no news at all, except to spread some optimism to society at large, minimizing the fear effect that’s over everybody’s head.

I truly believe the real opportunities crisis can promote are two and interconnected. As usual in an open market economy:

  1. Darwinism: It cleans the market of the feeble and week, unable to adapt and thrive, at the same time that exposes the truly strong and capable;
  2. Evolutionism: It gives room for companies with visionary leadership and a flexible structure as well as market-oriented business models to quickly reinvent themselves, adapts to new circumstances, adjusts processes and strategies, to conquer the empty ground left behind by the previous ones.

We are seeing this happen even in strongly impacted sectors by this crisis like hospitality, aviation, and tourism.

What are you going to do to take care of your business, get back on track, to fulfill the gap others are creating in the marketplace? What’s your excuse?



Selling Services? – Get Real!

A usual problem that service companies face is that they are often either unaware of service problems, or are under the illusion that service is good.

On the one hand, we have experience with some services that are amazingly efficient, dependable, and organized, and on the other, we suffer through amazingly frustrating unbelievable bad service like being put on indefinite hold during service support phone call.

Most people, if they have any choice, will not tolerate such bad service.

Where there are alternatives tolerance for bad service disappears.

Service companies need to understand that they aren’t competing with bad or good service in itself. They are competing with service expectations.

Typically, most small to mid-size companies struggle to maintain adequate levels of service. Rarely do they give conscious, deliberate, intensive thought into how they can improve the services.

Service companies or Customer service departments need to understand that if they are marketing regular or stellar service to their customers, they need to stick to it as the customers tend to Expect what they communicated. And this, being a Marketing issue, can bring up or down a company’s Results, its success or failure.

Are you selling services? Don’t forget to get real!


Selling Services

Everybody understands the distinction between selling a product that can be seen and touched, and selling a service that can’t be touched, tasted, felt, or seen before is bought.

One practical example of how products and services differ is to consider what happens when a product fails versus what happens when a service fails.

It’s obvious when a product fails – it stops working; when it’s plugged in nothing happens. You return it or exercise your warrantee options. But what happens when a service fails? How do you even know if it has?

In Consulting services it happens when a client won’t get what he/she thinks is buying. When he/she thinks the service rendered does not comply with the service asked for.
– Communication problems?
– Lack of understanding of the results delivered?
– Misinterpretation from the consultant side of what were the client’s expectations? Expected Results?

What are you going to say to such a client?

What does it mean to sell an invisible service?
It means you should be extremely careful with your marketing. Meaning that you should pay serious attention to what are you selling, the Service itself, and not be only worried to have the word spread out.

Your marketing efforts should align the service, its intrinsic value, with the value the client will perceive (perceived value) and will be willing to buy.

The service needs first to be refined in order to when the message gets out, the marketing efforts are maximized and multiplied. If these two aspects are not aligned, your reputation will pay for it. And this is really difficult to recover. It’s invisible, remember? But with a visible effect on you!

Don’t focus on functionalities, when selling a service, focus on benefits, reliable ones, not things you cannot deliver or the client use or do, if behind their capabilities.

Think about Marketing reputation, communicate advances your services can deliver, that will be used by the client. And the more advances your client is capable of, the more you will be successful. If you raise the bar based on what the market reports say you should deliver, expects from you, or are willing to buy, you will be talking to nobody. Or eventually to a Marketing designed “persona” that ultimately does not exist.

Fear is key when selling services. Overcome the client’s fear and succeed at it. Over time you will build a reputation and a solid base of references. This is the power of working diligently on the first rule of marketing, analyzing, and improving the service itself.

You can read more about it in Harry Beckwith’s Selling the Invisible.