Dig Deeper Into Customers’ Need

The financial landscape fundamentally shifted with M-Pesa. Suddenly, we had options and wanted more. Banks were no longer in the charge of the selling environment. You are not much different…

You are not in charge of the selling environment. Still, this does not exempt you from being in charge of the sale. Confused? Let’s illustrate this seeming paradox. There was a time when banks decided for (more like dictated to) us what, how and where we could access their services.

From giving a week’s notice, ahead of being allowed to withdraw the ‘princely’ sum of Kes. 10,000, to limited opening hours (we celebrated “opened until 3p.m”); from being taken through hoops before getting a loan, even after obediently ‘banking with us for six months’, to submitting all manner of documents (including letter from chief) just to open an account, from…Suffice to say, banks were the bastions of rigmarole when it came to accessing their services. And they could so this because, frustrated as we were, we didn’t have a choice.  They were solely in charge of the sale.

Today, of course, the selling environment is changing rapidly. Millions of Kenyans hitherto ‘unbankable’ now are; you can open an account at 1am on a Sunday and borrow ten minutes later all from your ‘phone. We can get ‘unsecured’ loans and even transfer money from ‘phone’ to ‘phone’ without possessing the hitherto exalted bank account. Why? The government drastically reduced borrowing from banks; further, propelled by creative selling, innovative sellers addressed the needs of the frustrated buyers and the ground fundamentally shifted. Suddenly, we had options and wanted more. Banks were no longer in the charge of the selling environment.

Before we snigger at banks saying “just deserves”, we are no different. You are no longer in charge of what you say at the interview (meaning you are not the sole source of information about you)-your online profile sells you (or not) too; you are not in charge of what you say about your company’s or product’s credibility-the news articles and social media sentiments appearing online are; even newspapers are not in charge of news-social media many times has informed you before the newspaper does. In fact, social media killed what used to be called Special Edition. (A runaway publication of breaking news, printed and circulated within hours, like the High Court ruling to nullify elections would have elicited).

So what to do, to still be in charge of the sale? Deepen your research to know as much as you can about what the buyer knows about you; lest you are caught unawares by the buyer who turns the screen towards you and says, “How do you explain these negative comments given you say your money-backed guarantee has remained sacred since inception?” In addition, depending on what you are selling you conduct yourself commensurate to your service; so, you don’t sell by telling (this is it, take it or leave it); instead you sell by asking, probing, guiding, and consensus building. Like the doctor who caught me unawares when she sought my opinion about my elusive skin rash by asking, “What does your Google search say?”

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