What Form one selection teaches us about selling


Customers are the business. Today, more than ever, this is becoming prevalent. Customers have options. How many loan apps do you have, for instance?

Complaining about customers is signing your (sales) death certificate. This is what we learn from Education CS (Cabinet Secretary) George Magoha’s announcement: “Form One selection will start tomorrow (November 29th) so that parents can have time to prepare. By December 2nd, all pupils will have known which school they are going to”, so the media reported. For years we had grown accustomed to receiving the news early the following year.  And the news would be met with lamentations.  “We have just come from spending December’s and November’s salaries on travel upcountry, celebrating Christmas and New Year’s which we must.” And then we’d come back from the celebratory dizzying high to the reality of back-to-school shopping. Instead of complaining about the cyclical debilitating behaviour of his customers, the CS worked with it.

Complaining about customers is a recipe for closing shop. NTSA (National Transport and Safety Authority) tried blaming drivers for its inability to reduce the 3,000-plus deaths on our roads annually. Where did that get them? Last I checked the needle hadn’t budged from 3000-plus and NTSA has a new honcho.

Customers are the business. Today, more than ever, this is becoming prevalent. Customers have options. How many loan apps do you have on your mobile phone, for instance? How long did you stay loyal to your traditional cab driver when Uber arrived? How often do you switch channels while watching TV? Do you even count? And at a government service delivery level, what options do you have? Your customers are the citizenry. There is no other market you are going to carve out. You can of course migrate to another country with the kind of citizenry you want. Good luck with that!

When her loyal customers complain that their financial situation has been disrupted and could they pay monthly, the kiosk owner doesn’t blame them; she simply opens a book to record all purchases made and presents the bill for payment end month. When the customer keeps forgetting to carry his marriage certificate, the progressive seller doesn’t blame the non-completion of the sale on the forgetfulness. No. He requests to remind him when he (customer) gets home and confirm he has it the following morning before he leaves the house. When the wildly popular drinking joint that is little more than a shed decides to spruce up to reflect the well-to-do clientele frequenting it, the owner shouldn’t get shocked when they all leave. They were not patronising the joint in their fuel guzzlers because they lacked places of affluence to do so.  Sometimes, sellers may take customers submissiveness for satisfaction. “We have them where we want them ‘Wata do (they can do nothing)?  Like banks dropping their rates of interest on savings accounts to (the current) less than 5 per cent, with the repeal of the cap. Now Safaricom is poised to launch one (Mali) offering a 10 per cent return.

Sellers shoot themselves in the foot when they blame customers.

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