I have learned over the years that very few companies systematically and relentlessly honor the fundamentals of marketing. That’s because all of the rules of marketing come back to the same free market principle: the economic authority of the consumer.
Sellers resist this principle, right up to the “going out of business” sale. Sellers are in business to feather their own nests. Most of them regard customers as a necessary evil. Their sales policies and practices reflect this.
So, for the benefit of sellers everywhere—and if you earn a living, you are a seller—here are the basics of successful selling. They all are an extension of this principle: “The customer, possessing money, holds the economic hammer.”
- Word of mouth is the most cost-effective form of marketing. (With the Internet, it’s word of mouse.)
- The customer is always right, unless he is trying to cheat you, and even then you probably ought to go along with him anyway, once.
- Identify your ideal customer, and structure everything that your company does to meet his/her demands.
- If a price is listed, honor it—no bait and switch, no “that sale ended yesterday.”
- Offer a money-back guarantee or “we’ll fix it free of charge” (risk-reversal).
- The value of a customer is the profit generated by the number of repeat sales (the lifetime value of the customer).
- The first sale is the most expensive one for a seller to generate.
- Profitability is in repeat sales (the back end).
- Repeat customers are more forgiving.
- Don’t carry a product line that repeatedly alienates customers.
- Keep all sales records in a data base.
- Use the data base to spot successes and problems.
- Use the data base to make special offers to the ideal customers you want to return.
- The customer evaluates the entire company through the people he deals with in the store.
- Train your entire staff to understand these principles.
- Create a system of ongoing rewards and punishments that reinforces this training.
- Implement this system.
- Begin at the top.
Editor’s note: We thought many of you would find this business lesson by Gary North to be interesting. Especially in a day when many evangelical Christians tend to think that Christianity is just about Bible reading, prayer, evangelism, etc. These are very important things, but Christianity is much more than that. It touches all areas of life. Hence, it is important for Christians – especially those in business – to be leading the way in offering the best product and customer service possible. This too brings glory to our Heavenly Father.