Of the many mentors I’ve had along my way, Dave Pomeroy was one of the most insightful and entertaining people I’ve ever met. It was he that helped me accept that I would never satisfy every customer, nor should I try. I get how that might seem strange, but stay with me here, this is about to get good.
Like many of you, I took my craft as a professional salesperson very seriously. I practiced qualifying questions and overcoming objections. Then I studied multiple closing techniques and rehearsed features, advantages and benefits. I also believed that I was capable of closing and satisfying every customer every time and if anyone ever left dissatisfied or unhappy, it was somehow my failure. But it wasn’t always.
I first met Dave Pomeroy when he was a professional sales coach and technical instructor for a vendor of mine. He had invested years in researching people and personalities and he recognized that people looked at the world, and the people around them differently, determining that most could be placed into 3 distinct categories of customers.
These are people who just want a job done right. Most of them won’t mention a discount on your price. They just don’t want to do the work themselves. These people value you and your efforts. 17%ers will easily establish a working relationship with you because you make their life easier. They aren’t likely to become your best friends, but they will call you repeatedly as they need additional services. 17%ers are your ideal customers when providing annual and semi-annual services.
The next group will make up 54% of your customers. These are folks that will ask for a discount, but really do want you to make a living and appreciate you helping them out. 54%ers are likely to get to know you on a first name basis and say hello when you pass them at a restaurant. Treat them right and they’ll bring you new customers. Tons of them. They’ll show off their new item or completed project to their friends and neighbors and recommend you to them. Heck, they’ll even bring them to you if driving in by your area. These are people you’ll develop long time relationships with and will often become personal friends. 54%ers are people that are usually the most fun to do business with and the type of people you’ve dreamed of serving when you started your business or profession in the first place.
This group was hard for me to accept. It’s effectively ⅓ of people. I wanted every customer, every sale, every time. But that’s just not going to happen. The truth is, 29% of people are just miserable. They are unhappy at work, at home, around friends and even at church. 29%ers don’t value you or your staff. They’ll argue, bitch and complain the entire time you’re with them and they will never be satisfied. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing for them or how many times you do it. You could be selling them underwear, shoes, flowers, electrical work or landscaping, it doesn’t matter. They are going to stress you out along the way and aggravate your employees. You know the type, we’ve all had them and can probably recall many of them by name.
So the question, really, is this… Could you possibly accommodate 71% of your market area? (Think 650,000 people x .71 = 461,500 people.) The answer is, of course not. The average business could NEVER handle that number of customers, all of whom (17%ers and 54%ers) want to work with you. So why work so hard to satisfy the 29% that are so miserable in their lives, that they just want to suck you into their misery?
The lesson to be learned
When meeting with folks for the 1st time, ask yourself what category this customer is falling into. The 17%ers, 54%ers and 29%ers all have different ways they see others and you can tell by the way they treat you and your staff and even their own family. You’d do well to develop a series of 3-5 questions to determine if this customer is right for you, just like you would do with any products you offer. If they are people who fall into the 29%, let them go. Of course, be nice and professional, but price higher and don’t negotiate as you might do with your 71%ers. This way, if you do engage them, at least you can make it worth your while. There’s no law that says you have to do business with everyone.
By eliminating the stress and work of 29% of people, you’ll have far more time to invest in your 71%. You’ll be happier, your customers will be happier and employees will be happier. You’ll make more money (Trust me, you really will), you’ll find and retain customers much more easily and enjoy what you do again.You deserve that.
My friend Dave
My friend Dave Pomeroy passed away September 2nd, 2010 from a heart attack. I take great pride sharing some of the lessons he shared with me and others along his way. I know he’d find it a hoot that his legacy of helping others continues on.