Prospects or Customers: There Should Not Be a Difference

March 22, 2016

Better yet, should there be a difference? Many business owners will immediately assume that there is no difference. They think and assume that prospects and customers are both treated the same. But, are they really?

First a Prospect

Business prospects are usually promised:

•    The best product or service a business has to offer
•    The best customer service during and after a sales transaction
•    The best possible pricing
•    Prompt replies to telephone and email inquires
•    Complete customer satisfaction

Depending on the business and industry, prospects might even be:

•    Wined and dined
•    Contracts and terms discussed and negotiated
•    Special provisions promised
•    Repeated contact during the sales process

All of this is for the purpose of securing the sale. Competition is intense, and the small business owner must do everything possible to make a sale. Regardless of the business sector...retail, service, or manufacturing...prospects are many times promised whatever it takes to “close the deal.”

Now a Customer

The sale is made, and now the prospect becomes a customer. Often times going forward, this becomes the scenario:

•    The quality of products and services begins to change
•    Customer service is not what it was represented to be
•    Additional pricing and hidden costs surface
•    Replies to telephone and email inquires are no longer answered promptly
•    Customer satisfaction declines

What happened? The prospect turned into a customer and everything changed! The customer is no longer the once excited prospect and feels deceived, frustrated, and wondering how the attitude of the business owner could change so quickly. The great relationship enjoyed during the sales process quickly turns to one of animosity. The new customer starts to immediately consider competitors for the next purchase.

Customer is Forgotten

Somehow, the business owner forgot who actually pays the bills. He fails to realize that the time and cost of acquiring new customers far exceeds the time and cost of retaining current customers. Without consciously knowing it, the business owner subscribes to a theory of “burn and churn” customers. Rather than concentrating on a policy of developing long-term customer relationships and business sustainability, the business owner who treats prospects one way and customers another way creates a revolving door of:

•    Prospects in
•    Customers out
•    Prospects in
•    Customers out

A Lasting Effect

This never-ending cycle creates:

•    Lost customers
•    Negative word-of-mouth
•    Wasted time
•    Additional costs

Treating customers the same as they are treated when they are prospects reverses the disastrous cycle of “prospects in and customers out.” When prospects and customers are treated the same, business grows and profits increase!