Building Value into the Relationship for the Long Term

Your client has certain expectations of you and your product or service. If their expectations are met, or exceeded, they will be satisfied. Simple.

Not always.

For your product to be successfully implemented into the client’s daily working life, the client must move through a learning process. This process can be described through five phases, helping you understand the way people learn, and your responsibility in helping them.

Phase 1 | Unconscious Incompetence | Your customer does not know that he does not know.

Your customer has signed the order, product is delivered and they are enthused. They expect to realize the benefits of this product, benefits you have described and promised throughout the sales process. However, the customer’s expectation of benefit is at its highest point right now, and their understanding of the learning required is underestimated. To derive benefit they must learn, you must teach them, but they aren’t ready for the learning just yet.

Phase 2 | Conscious Incompetence | Customer knows he doesn’t know.

Customer frustration mounts during this phase as they come to realize that change / learning will be difficult. Habitual ways of working must be altered. Productivity may suffer in the short term while people learn to use the new product. The customer may wrestle with a feeling that they are worse off than before.

Phase 3 | Conscious Competence | Customer works hard at what he doesn’t know.

With application, the customer begins to learn how to operate the equipment. They begin to seen the benefits in the real work environment. The product begins to make a real contribution, as promised.

Phase 4 | Unconscious Competence | Customer begins to make the new habitual.

The customer has a real sense of accomplishment now that the product is fully integrated into their office and the daily routine. Results are being realized. Everyone is happy!

Phase 5 | Conscious Unconscious Competence | Customer easily explains the new benefits of the new product, and how to derive them.

In-house experts can now train others in the office as the entire team develops an appreciation for the equipment. It has become part of the family.

Other considerations: if the product is complex, expect the learning process to take more time, and expect it to be more frustrating for the customer. Likewise, have these expectations if the customer is inexperienced. Often, the people who actually make the purchase decision are not the end-users. Therefore you may experience outright resistance to the product by end users who did not participate in the buying decision.

Bottom line: meeting and exceeding customer expectations is not easy, but it is well worth it.

Kevin Davis

Kevin F. Davis is the author of The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness”, which was named the 2018 Axiom Business Book Award Winner, Silver Medal. Kevin is also the author of Slow Down, Sell Faster!”.