Posts Tagged ‘educated buyer’

Is Your Best Customer an Educated Customer?

August 18th, 2010
Seemingly simple question, but one with huge implications in a socially-transparent world. I have worked for some folks over the years who were “nice guys” until they got in a room with a potential customer and turned into sharks. Their belief was that they needed to close the customer as soon as possible and with as much margin as possible.

Forget value-based pricing, it was “Caveat Emptor” or buyer-beware pricing. Their best customer was an uneducated client who didn’t understand the value of the offering. They preyed off of the buyers ignorance.

As any of us who run businesses know, it is a struggle to find the right balance between customer and company needs in a relationship. Customers do not really appreciate martyrdom when you cannot deliver at a ludicrously low price. Some buyers look for predatory deals on their own side as well. At the end of the day, win-lose negotiating means someone loses.

I have always believed in win-win relationships with customers. My belief is that you operate as if the client has all of the available information and you treat them respectfully as an educated buyer with all of the benefits in the negotiation and represent their interests even if they cannot. Integrity is not bought or sold, it is earned. Sometimes at great cost and sacrifice. And it is always constantly challenged.

I have also always believed that you can “win” with integrity and that eventually those who practice predatory business practices will be exposed.

Social media has the opportunity to profoundly impact market transparency. My sincere hope is that it will be easier for buyers to get a more “accurate” picture of the value of the offering and the integrity of the provider. Markets become more efficient with better information so I believe that the ability to check references, get self-educated, and validate product claims will make markets more efficient and reduce the ability for “bad actors” to operate.

I think those who believe in “an educated buyer” are already participating in social media for the right reasons. The “give to get” model of providing thought leadership and market education has helped many. Not sure yet that it is affecting market behavior on a macro-level, but I am always hopeful.