I have a lot of equipment financing clients that I’ve known for years. Whenever we discuss business, the conversation usually starts with personal stuff, how’s the family, how are things going, etc.
I conversed with two last week, and it struck me how different they are in communication preferences.
Client one, who we’ll call John, is old school. John not only calls me on the phone, he’s one of those people who insists on phone conversations all the time. Trust me, if you don’t have a phone that gets answered, you have almost no shot at doing business with John.
It’s not that John can’t use e-mail – he will if he must. But he doesn’t like to write, so his answers are brief, and he’ll say “just call me and I’ll explain it”. John once told me he wouldn’t hire a landscaper because the guy texted him back after John called him. He’s like that.
Now let’s go to client two, who we’ll call Pete. I’ve done business with Pete for years, and we’ve spoken maybe two times. Pete simply does not like to talk on the phone – we can have week-long conversations via e-mail, and understand everything just fine. In fact, if you *can’t* carry on an extensive e-mail conversation (sometimes covering two or three subjects), your chances of doing business with Pete are low. I’m pretty sure if Pete has a landscaper, it’s someone he hired via e-mail.
Most people are not as hardcore as these two, and fall somewhere in the middle. But (and you’re probably wondering what this has to do with equipment financing) it illustrated to me how important it is to satisfy both types.
Sure, we answer calls, but a few years ago, we developed a self-assessment (it’s right at the beginning of our homepage at www.crestcapital.com) where prospective customers could check their eligibility without contacting us – it has proven very popular.
For the person who likes the phone, it can still give them a good idea if they qualify, and save them time.
And for that client who does not want to converse? It’s tailor-made for them, because they can apply right away, and even get an approval via e-mail. And while we do call and speak to clients at the listed business number before funding (that’s simply prudent), we often finance deals with minimal phone contact. The “Pete’s” of the world really appreciate that.
Whatever your business, you probably deal with both John and Pete. And while the number of Pete’s is increasing, neither is wrong, and satisfying both is one important way to differentiate yourself.