Growing Your B2B Small Business with Robert Poole

Bridging the Gap in Client Expectations and Yours

May 31, 2021 Robert Poole Season 1 Episode 75
Bridging the Gap in Client Expectations and Yours
Growing Your B2B Small Business with Robert Poole
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Growing Your B2B Small Business with Robert Poole
Bridging the Gap in Client Expectations and Yours
May 31, 2021 Season 1 Episode 75
Robert Poole

What’s one of the biggest reasons clients and customers are dissatisfied? They have totally different expectations and perceptions of your products or service than you do. How do we bridge this gap and turn disgruntled clients into raving fans? Listen to this episode to find out more. 

Show Notes Transcript

What’s one of the biggest reasons clients and customers are dissatisfied? They have totally different expectations and perceptions of your products or service than you do. How do we bridge this gap and turn disgruntled clients into raving fans? Listen to this episode to find out more. 

[00:00:00] Hey everyone. It's Robert Poole with the grown, your B2B small business podcast. In this episode, we're going to talk about how to grow your revenue. Keep more of your clients and reduce the stress in your life caused by your business. Let's get started.

[00:00:17] You have a small business that sells to other businesses. If so you probably know that there are plenty of resources for companies that market to consumers or companies that sell to large and fortune 500 type companies are worried about the small businesses in the middle who sell other companies.

[00:00:30] Where do we go to get answers? How do we grow our company consistently while still keeping our sanity? That's the question. And this podcast is the answer. If you're listening to this podcast, you're part of an elite group of achievers who are willing to settle for just a nine to five job. You're one of the heroes in our society, and you should be proud of it.

[00:00:46] Welcome to the tribe and welcome home. Hey everyone. I hope you're having an awesome day and the last. So we talked about the concept of in-person and virtual appointments and how to conduct them for the most effective outcome. Today. I want to talk [00:01:00] about an area that can be a sore subject for a lot of entrepreneurs, including myself and something that can be an ongoing irritant and throttle in your business.

[00:01:07] That subject is client or customer expectations. What I mean by expectations is that what the client thinks they're buying versus what you think they're buying. Unfortunately, a lot of times those thoughts are vastly different. This creates disgruntled clients and can make your life and your team's life very miserable and how you have to deal with them day to day.

[00:01:27] First, just a quick story to illustrate what I'm talking about. When my business partner and I started out in our B2B marketing company and was 20 years ago, we almost started by accident. We were actually running a web design company and using our own cold callers to get leads for us. We had a website client who we cold called and that wanted to borrow our rent, our colorist and make calls for him.

[00:01:49] We gave it a try and we were shocked about how well we did for this guy. I mean, he was a business broker. So if you don't know what that is, he's basically a realtor that sells businesses instead of homes. [00:02:00] So, I mean, at that time we didn't even know what a business broker was, but since we had such good success in generating appointments and leads for them client, we decided to pursue this as a business and started going after other business brokers nationwide.

[00:02:13] One of the first cold calls we made to a business broker was a broker in Glendale, Arizona, right outside of Phoenix, where we're based. At the time we decided to price our cold callers on an hourly rate, but we kind of sold those hours in blocks of 10. At that I think it was a 10 hours for $240 back then, which you know, there's not much, if you think about it, even if you adjusted for inflation, that's only $356 in today's dollars.

[00:02:37] Cool calculators, you can find on Google. But so we told this broker about some of the results we'd gotten for the first guy. And I think this was like five or six appointments at the time. And these are in-person appointments. Tons of change and the numbers aren't as good as they used to be, but they're still sufficient to make cold calling worth the cost most of the time.

[00:02:55] So in almost 20 years have not forgotten. And what this guy said, when we told him it was [00:03:00] $240 for it, 10 hours, he said, geez, for $240, I'd expect at least four listings. I mean, we were flabbergasted, you know, a little as we knew about the industry, we knew business brokers could end up with a six figure payout on a sizable listing.

[00:03:13] If it's sold at a bare minimum, they were probably going to make at least 10 to $15,000. So even if it took a hundred hours, you know, at our $240 rate for 10 hours, 2,400, this guy would've made a killing. And yet his expectation was totally different from our expectation and understanding of value. I mean, this is quite a gap between the client's view and our company's view of value and therefore expectations.

[00:03:36] Can you imagine how upset this guy would have been if he had taken him on as a client and charged him $240 and then not delivered close to the four listings? I mean, unless we got real lucky, of course. Now that's an extreme example, but something, our company, I think a lot of businesses deal with the gap in expectations for your service or your product.

[00:03:55] Let's talk about first, why that divide exists and some ideas on how to shrink that gap [00:04:00] first, think from the client's perspective, you know, why is their expectation of your product or solution different from yours? I mean, there's seller reasons, but you know, off the top of my head, I'd say one, they're used to what they perceive as similar products or services.

[00:04:13] You know, in the past. And so they probably expect a similar experience, whether it's true or not, they're putting you in a category, you know, they are looking to solve their problem, you know, and they're looking at your service to think, to see if they think it'll solve it. And again, it's what they think.

[00:04:29] And they might come to the wrong conclusion. They're uneducated about their problem possibly, and also probably possible solutions. They really think they know what they're talking about, but a lot of times, you know, that's not their expertise, so they don't. And then of course they value things differently than we do sometimes.

[00:04:46] I mean, for instance, you know, my wife, uh, values travel much more than, you know, things, uh, I, you know, of course enjoy traveling, but I would really prefer something solid that I can touch. You know, as far as how I'm going to spend my money and [00:05:00] clients often base their expectation on what others have told them, most of the times those are unqualified people to talk about it.

[00:05:06] You know, it's the old cocktail party, stock dip, you know, it's bad advice to do that because they don't know what they're talking about. So on the end of the gap, what about us? Why do we have different expectations and views of value that our clients? Well, number one, I would say, you know, we're not clear on who we can help and we attract the wrong clients.

[00:05:24] We expect people who don't really need or value our service don't think like we do and don't have the same values to have the same expectations. I mean, it just doesn't make sense, but it's, you know, it's so simple and it seems obvious, but a lot of us do it, including myself in our company. Number two. I think we underestimate how much clients need education on our service of product, especially, it's not a common commodity.

[00:05:46] I mean, it's a Cardinal rule of sewing and dealing with clients, you know, that we assume that we know what they think, or you know, how much they know about things. We think, you know, they should know this, but not necessarily. And even if they do, they probably just need to get reminded about the [00:06:00] basics again.

[00:06:01] Third, even if we do have education or understand that we really have no system or thought out process for educating the clients and helping them to understand not only our solution, but understand their problem better and what they really want. I mean, this has been a big problem over the years at our company at sales double.

[00:06:18] And you know, I'll be honest, we're still working on it is this is, you know, difficult and we're trying different ways to help educate our clients. We need to educate them, not just on our specific service and features, et cetera. We also need to educate them on just the general idea of their problem and need to educate them on actually how to use our solution, you know, to make it a most effective.

[00:06:38] And last, uh, you know, like I said, off the top of my head, there are probably others, but we generally don't do a good job of collecting ongoing feedback from our clients to identify those areas that need education and, you know, clearing up misunderstandings and false beliefs about our service or how to use it.

[00:06:53] I mean, this is another one for big sales double in only in the last few years, have we actively solicited feedback that we've learned [00:07:00] areas where, you know, the two perceptions of our product and, or your service or whatever differ. So we've talked about, you know, why there's a disconnect in perception and understanding of our service, a product and what our customers think about it.

[00:07:12] Well, what happens if we don't manage the expectations? I mean, there are a lot of consequences and unfortunately I think I've experienced most of them at our company. Fortunately we've learned from our mistakes, but these are some of the things that got us in trouble and cost us business and create tons of unnecessary stress for our team.

[00:07:28] First of all, you know, if there's a wide divide between your perception of value and your client, you're rarely going to develop raving fans. And without fans, it's very hard to grow your business over time without fans who stick up for you and go out of their way, tell others good things about your company.

[00:07:44] You're going to end up with just complainer setting the narrative in the public. The only way to calendar. This is to create those raving fans through drown out the nugget. If you and your clients have vastly different views of your service, it's almost impossible to develop those raving fans. So this is a big one.

[00:08:00] [00:07:59] What else? Um, so the stress of having this gap is going to make it, it's very hard for your team to stay motivated and focused on serving you clients, particularly customer service people when they get people or emailing and complaining about things that they didn't get, what they thought we were getting, you know, that's a problem.

[00:08:15] And this gap is going to cause heavy turnover in clients. If you sell, you know, repeat clients on subscription products or services, which incidentally is something that every business should figure out how to do. Somehow, this one has cost us a ton of money over the years, and I forgotten who said it.

[00:08:31] But basically if you think about all the clients and customers who have used you or your products, you know, but no longer do how much money have you left on the table, you know, in our company, you know, It's horrible, but I'm embarrassed to say that this has probably cost us tens of millions of dollars over the last 20 years.

[00:08:46] I mean, that's an amazing stupid tax to pay along with turnover comes clients badmouthing you seeing your product or service doesn't work, or it sucks. And basically more negative PR that doesn't help you sell or grow your company. [00:09:00] You know, another one, you know, clients think they got ripped off or swindled.

[00:09:03] We've all signed up our purchase things based on a perception of. What it was going to do for us only to be disappointed with the reality of the product and felt almost stupid for buying it or been really upset at the company that sold it to us. You think about those feelings. Is that what you want your clients and customers to feel after doing business with you?

[00:09:19] I think not to take this further and more concrete, if someone really feels ripped off or it feels like you misrepresented yourself or your product, regardless of the facts, now you open yourself up to financial disputes and even possible legal action, depending on the deal. So nothing good that we want to deal with.

[00:09:37] This next one is really personal to me. And I've mentioned before that many years after we started out as a company, I found myself resenting some of our clients. Unfortunately I blame them when it was actually my fault. You know, when there's a divide between client perceptions of our service and product and what we think we're providing, it opens itself up to resentment and both sides on the client side that are frustrating and feel like they didn't get what their money's [00:10:00] worth.

[00:10:00] On our side, we feel like, well, why aren't they recognizing the value of our service and what great results they're getting? Right. I could get, I used to feel that clients who just didn't get it were clueless. And I presented them because they didn't understand like I did, but this was a totally backwards perspective.

[00:10:16] And it was actually me who was at fault, you know? And then I said, the last reason finally, uh, most of us are, you know, we're ultimately in business to serve our clients or customers. And money is just the value of getting returned for providing that value to them. However, when it comes to expectations, you're really hurting your clients.

[00:10:32] By letting them set the narrative, letting them create their false perceptions in their mind of your product or service. If you let them do this to themselves, you're robbing them of that benefit of the results. You can get them, you really have a moral obligation to help them understand the value of your service.

[00:10:48] So that's a lot of reasons why not closing the gap between the client perception and ours. What are some of the good things that come out of managing this issue? You know, a lot of it, as you can imagine is sort of the polar opposite, the consequences of a [00:11:00] wide gap to start, you have an excellent chance of developing raving fans who will do testimonials for you, tell their friends and contacts about, you mentioned you in industry meetings.

[00:11:09] And so on. As we know a referral from a current fan, a happy client is much easier to sell than someone who's deciding whether or not to trust your company. So why are these clients potentially raving fans happy to tell their friends? Well, they got exactly or even better than they thought they were paying you for.

[00:11:25] You know, one of my early mentors, Jerry Ames told me once businesses simple, go to the marketplace, tell people what you're going to do for them, and then actually do it when it boils down to it. It's really that simple and what we're in business to do. If we deliver over, deliver on what we say we're going to do, clients will become raving fans and make our lives and growth much easier.

[00:11:45] So developing these raving fans directly affects your turnover as well. Go back to the concept of all the past customers and clients you've had. And. Think about what a difference that revenue would have made to your company? I mean, I'd know I'd take that in a heartbeat, but besides money that [00:12:00] substantially reduced stress for your team and yourself, can't be overstated.

[00:12:04] If you need team come to work every day and deal with clients or customers who have completely different view of your value of your service, how it works, or have false beliefs about the solution general, it's going to be stressful. It's going to be painful. I mean, this has haunted our company for years, for all the reasons I started out with.

[00:12:20] I wish I could say we no longer have any problems with this expectation issue, but it's simply not true. And I don't think it's realistic. The goal is to get as close to the metal as possible and shrink that gap between the two, but you're never going to completely be on the same page as our clients is you have internal knowledge that they don't and vice versa.

[00:12:37] And lastly, when we do business, I think one of the main goals should be to develop a relationships with our clients and customers. I mean, it doesn't matter if you have thousands of customers or just a few. If you have thousands, you may not know them by name, but you can still develop a relationship by making them feel important, valued, and that they consider your company to be their go-to solution.

[00:12:55] For that problem, even almost in the friend category, getting [00:13:00] everyone on the same page with clear expectations, upfront changes their relationship from a transactional one, with no loyalty to a relational, one where your clients and customers, you know, turn into raving fans with all this. I hopefully I've convinced you about the importance of shrinking the gap between you and your clients, but.

[00:13:16] As always, that's just theory. So how do we actually do this closing of the gap? And there are many things you can do. Of course, at our company sales double, we've tried a variety of things and by no means perfect, we're getting better and better at it, but it's not a walk in the park, particularly if you have developed bad habits over the years and been in business for awhile, but here's some of the things that we've done that have helped us.

[00:13:37] Number one, it's a mentality or mindset or thinking change whenever you want to call it. You know, we have to realize and be comfortable with the fact that a certain percentage of our clients are let's face it just plain nuts. And no matter how much we define expectations upfront, how much we train them and provide education for them, you know, they still don't get it.

[00:13:56] And they're going to fall into the category of disgruntled. I mean, [00:14:00] anyone who tells you that you can get a hundred percent client satisfaction is selling you something. The key is to understand this, get rid of those customers as they identify themselves and constantly try to screen these people out before they even become customers.

[00:14:12] It just costs a business and there's really no way around it. Okay. So what's the number one thing we can do first, be very careful about defining your ideal customer. If you don't have a good handle on your product or service, you know, who that delivers great value and results to you're going to market and take on the wrong clients who have the wrong expectations and you're to experience all the negatives.

[00:14:33] We've talked about, get this right before anything else. It's really the foundation of many areas of your business. Next, I would say, confirm that you understand the problem that they're coming to you for. Just because someone who contacted a company and indicates interest in your product or service doesn't mean you'll be able to help them.

[00:14:49] I mean, hopefully your marketing, where time improves so that you attract more of the right people and less of the wrong. But if you don't understand what result they're trying to achieve by coming to you, you're going to deliver results that [00:15:00] may or may not solve their problem, because you really have no idea what their problem is.

[00:15:03] So spend time on this. Another one, be very clear in every interaction from the lead stage to the sale, in what they can expect from you. And even more importantly, I think sometimes what you can expect from them. I mean, if you're gonna have a relationship with client versus a transaction, it's just important that they know what you expect from them.

[00:15:22] If they think it's just a one-sided and you're going to do everything without communicating with you and working with you, you're going to continually be frustrated. And it's very hard to deliver results when a one-sided transaction. In reality, what you want is partners, not customers or clients, businesses most successful.

[00:15:38] When two parties work together towards a common goal that helps both of them benefit. Don't ignore this side of it. The next one gets a lot of salespeople and companies into trouble. And that's the courage to state only the facts of how your solution solves their problem. Don't exaggerate. Don't puff.

[00:15:53] Don't give them any impression. That's not a hundred percent true. Don't let them assume anything. If you know what the thinking. They won't forget what they [00:16:00] are promised and you'll suffer the consequences of that exaggeration and puffing. You know, what about the education factor? Unless you're selling a widget that's extremely simple and you know, the exact thing your competitors and the whole populous understands, you know, you need to educate your customers, not only on your specific product or service, but also the concept in general.

[00:16:19] I mean, we have prospects that come to us, thinking that they know all about lead generation and appointment setting something's does symbol thing and they don't need any help. However, you don't know what you don't know. I mean, most likely you don't go to your mechanic and tell them how to fix your car, to get it on the road.

[00:16:33] Again, you know, I personally know little about cars and I depended on the deal at a mechanic to educate me on the issues. You know, how to keep it running. What do I do when I have a problem and that sort of thing. It's part of our job to teach our clients about solutions to their problem, help them get clarity on the problem and educate them on our solution and why it makes the most sense for them.

[00:16:53] A lot of clients come to us because they want to quote, increase sales. Well, that's pretty generic. You know, we have to teach them that they have to be much more [00:17:00] specific. I mean, do you want overall increased revenue? Do you want higher numbers of clients? Do you want clients just to spend more, you know, get increased revenue that way?

[00:17:09] I mean, education is a pillar of closing that gap. So continue with education. Sometimes the problem is not the education itself. We've made this mistake in the past and are still working on it. You know, if we fire information, uh, down the throats of our clients and education, No, they're not going to absorb it and they're not going to be educated at all.

[00:17:29] I mean, what would happen if you took a course in American history that is normally a four or five months, semester long course, and try to cram it into two or three weeks. Most likely people in the class wouldn't perform real well. This is just too much information for the brain to comprehend in such a short period of time.

[00:17:44] We'd do the same thing with, you know, our clients, you know, this particular item has been an ongoing struggle with our clients and we still work on it to this day. So figure out every possible way to educate your customers. We all learn differently. And you know, I mean, for instance, if you want to sell me, you [00:18:00] gotta give me detailed text-based things, documents, PDFs, whatever that go over the needed, uh, education.

[00:18:06] If you tell me verbally, or do you ask me to watch a video or listen to an audio, I'm going to lose interest real quick and I'm not going to educate myself at all. My wife on the other hand has to talk to somebody. And as she talks, she kind of works things out in her head. She'd never sit down and read some long educational piece.

[00:18:23] You know, neither one of these learning methods are wrong. We're just different people and learn differently. So how do we deal with these different learning styles? Well, we want to present the information in multiple ways and let the prospect self-select so to speak. They want to give the long and short text documents, PDFs, or whatever long and short videos, audios, you know, chatting over the phone, whatever it takes.

[00:18:44] You know, if we just have one avenue of education that only worked for a small group of people and everyone else will ignore it, kind of defeating the whole purpose. And here's a big one. Don't assume our clients and customers know things that you consider basic. Think about it. Like you're explaining and educating your grandmother.

[00:19:00] [00:19:00] It's better to be simple in plain language. No, we've made this mistake many times thinking, well, you know, that's basic sales, you know, we don't need to teach them that, you know, if they don't know how to do it, um, a lot of times we think it goes without saying, but it doesn't. Even then even if they do know how to do it, a lot of times they need reminders about basic stuff.

[00:19:19] I know I do. So if appropriate for your product or service, take the time to set up training or educational resources for your customers, like a monthly webinar or a zoom call or whatever customer lunches, you know, any, any different ways you can do things. You have to break things up in chunks and help them get their mind around it.

[00:19:35] So it may take time, but, you know, close the gap course, you know, there are others, but these are the, some of the ideas that we've used in our business. Takeaways from this episode, closing that gap between your, what your customer thinks about your product or service and their expectations versus yours is a constant working progress.

[00:19:53] And all the ways you can set up the narrative and influence your customers to start to see it from your perspective, in reality, the higher [00:20:00] likelihood you're going to develop raving fans to turn into more money and grow your business without tons of stress. Thanks for listening. And I'll talk to you soon.

[00:20:07] Have lost some day. Thanks for listening today. I hope you something you can implement right away. I know your time is valuable and it's really an honor to serve you. Please subscribe and rate the show in your favorite podcast platform. And give me your honest feedback. Also, I put together a short ebook on some of the top lessons I've learned in 20 years.

[00:20:24] Owning a B2B business. You can download a free copy