I tend to keep the old age “people buy from people” in mind when talking to executives who are looking to improve the performance of their sales teams. If the company’s sales team is unpleasant to do business with then customers become reluctant to buy the products and/or services of that company.
On the other hand customers also develop buying preferences that are based on an emotional attachment to the brand of a particular supplier.
As blogger Sara Roberts commented in a recent posting…
Even in today’s price-sensitive economy, the imagery attached to brands goes far beyond product attributes, functional benefits and price. It’s about capturing hearts and minds. It’s moving your customer beyond retention, to commitment, delight and ultimately evangelism. According to Gallup, companies that embrace the customer in this way, not merely as a standalone activity, but in collaboration with brand and business strategy, outperform competitors by 26% in gross margin and 85% in sales growth.
Building attachment to abstract concepts is much harder than building emotional attachment based on the lived experience. I am a firm believer that it is the way that brands treat people, both as customer and employee, that re-enforces the brand. If a member of staff goes the extra mile to help make your shopping experience easier you’ll believe “every little helps” more readily than you will if you’ve only seen the TV advert.
People make and break brands. The most sophisticated branding strategies can be undermined and devalued if the behavior of the staff in the company doesn’t align with the values of that brand. Have you seen any companies recently where the way that you were treated by their staff contradicted the brand description?