3 Ideas on turning buyers into customers

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Customers are not transactions

How do you view those people or organizations that purchase your goods or services? Are they transactions or are the customers?

I’m sure the first thing you thought was “of course they’re customers, everyone that buys from me is a customer” – or some variation on that theme. In my mind, someone that purchases from you is merely a buyer – not a customer. A view into the dynamics of customers and their value was created by Roger J. Best and his extensive treatment of customer retention in his book, Market-Based Management: Strategies for Growing Customer Value and Profitability  – he outlines three types of business orientations that drive almost all decisions made by those businesses:

  1. Customer Orientation – providing what customers need/want
  2. Sales Orientation – selling what the company wants to sell
  3. Production Orientation – selling what the company has produced

In two of the three above, the business is centered around their own orientation – and is actually more about business transactions than who purchases. It works in many industries – take the case of being a taxi driver in NYC. Are they truly concerned with each and every individual person that steps in and needs to be taken someplace? No, not really. They have a vehicle and want to conduct as many transactions as possible. They don’t expect (in many cases) to even have a repeat customer – they are just another yellow taxi among a thousands. Over time, they will determine how best to create the most transactions for how they want to “work” – for some, it will be focusing only on airports and hotels, for others, it will be short trips. The person being driven matters less than the transaction.

If you are a Customer Oriented company, you will move beyond single transactions and try to create a relationship with those buyers of your products or services.  Doing a Google search on the term “customer” – you get a hodge-podge of various articles, sites, consultants, tools that all claim to help – but I’m going to whisper a little secret in your ear …

“only YOU really know how to turn your buyers into customers”

Spend some quality time with yourself and just ask the question to yourself – How do I do it? – and you will be flooded with ideas.  It’s not rocket science – you’re buyers are just people, they are on the same quest as you, they are riddled with daily problems, they are both happy and sad, there are both smiles and tears in their lives.  They breath, the sleep, they eat.  And all of them have hopes and dreams.  The reality is, your product or service may not help with any of that, but there is a reason they purchased. 

Back to the turning buyers into customers, here are couple ideas to get you started …

Ask – seems so simple, but most of us forget that sometimes, the simplest things have the greatest value.  So ask your buyers:  why did you buy? how did you use? Did I deliver on my promise? Were you satisfied?

Say “Thank You” – ah, another very simple act that is forgotten in our world. We  are so “busy” in our lives, we forget to thank people. Thank your buyers for purchasing – and give them reasons to come back and buy more you.

Give just a little more than you take – I see this one all the time, and in reality, it is not a guarantee your buyers will become customers.  Mostly that little bit had very little value in the first place. But I’m sure you can make it work for you – be creative.

To wrap-up … selling something to someone is merely a transaction, nothing more.  Even selling multiple transactions to a buyer does not make them a customer.  To move that buyer to being a loyal and “engaged” customer takes work, it takes planning, it takes constant execution of that plan.  If that’s important, you’ll want to spend time thinking about how to make it a reality.


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Contact me today (really I mean that).  I can help you and am available for short/long term consulting or employment for the right opportunity.  Additionally, I invite you to read more of my articles, I post on many of the sites above.  Sharing ideas, taking products to market, or just understanding more about the process - that's what it's all about.   Issues with any or all content used in this post should be directed to the author.