Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The best customer is a desperate customer

I have found that I can only sell to two kinds of people, the egocentric and the desperate. I sell essentially the same thing to both, "help". These days the in-thing is to talk about 'intrepreneurs', the idea being that you find somebody truly excited about your product or service inside the company you are trying to sell to. For me it has worked much better to seek out the person who is under preassure and take their troubles off them. To stick with the theme, let's call him the despreneur.

Have a look at the despreneur on the left. I've met him several times in the last two months. Ask him a couple of probing questions about how things are going and the eye rubbing begin. It was such an obvious case of non-verbal communication and it happened in exactly the same way with two different people only days apart, so I decided to Google it and figure out what it means;

'When a person is feeling uncomfortable, the eyes may water a little. To cover this and try to restore an appropriate dryness, they person may rub their eye and maybe even feign tiredness or having something in the eye. This also gives the opportunity to turn the head away. The rubbing may be with one finger, with a finger and thumb (for two eyes) or with both hands. The more the coverage, the more the person is trying to hide behind the hands.'  changingminds.org

Really interesting. So that's the point where we start talking about how we can make his life easier, not in detail of course because we know he really just want to hide from the problems, we just make it clear that we know what we are doing, 'we have done it a million time before, so just leave it with us', and unsurprisingly, if it's not his own money he is spending, he is interested.


  1. Not to knock what you do in the least, but it seems to me that this is an example of the malaise of modern business and government structures.

    A person employed at a level deemed capable of buying in services is not capable of doing the job himself with in house manpower.

    I know this is an oversimplification, given tax issues alone, but it has been bothering me since the 1970s when i saw it starting up in local government.

    1. Knock away, I don’t necessarily disagree, and I know it sounds bad to say I didn’t write the rules I play by. However straight from the gut that is just the world I live in. I had a 6 months engagement last year where I wasn’t allowed to tell other people in the office what I was doing there (gets a bit lonely at lunchtime) and last week I took an assignment where I signed 4 non disclosure agreements (4 because of a complicated structure) and a lot of the focus was on me not telling internal people about this new initiative.

      A few years ago I worked for a large global company and the HQ introduced a “hiring freeze” which meant that we couldn’t hire any permanent people. When somebody left the only possible recourse was to use consultants. The bizarre outcome was that many people who left were recruited back in as contractors at two or three times their original salary.

      But finally I must say that some of the people I have dealt with are really not capable of running anything on their own. In fact I often say 'come back when it fails' and every consultant would tell you that the very best customer is the one who comes back asking you to help sort out their mess.

    2. I quite see that you don't make the rules and companies are probably lucky that you exist to pick up the pieces!

      But how do these incompetents get taken on, let alone promoted!

    3. Sometimes staying in the job requires a different skill-set than doing the job. I won’t claim to be an expert on political correctness or navigating everyone’s sensitivities, which is probably why I’m better suited to a life in the shadows.