Lately, my division has been wearing the customer reaction, “I didn’t know your company did that!” as a badge of honor. If someone produces a great marketing piece or a killer slide presentation, the watermark of success comes in the form of this one sentence from the decision-maker audience.
From a marketing perspective, though, I am not sure if this is something to strive for. Could this single sentence imply that as an enterprise the vendor is not doing the right things to get our key messages in front of decision-makers? Worse yet, does it mean that the product set is overly convoluted and that has prevented decision-makers from understanding where that vendor can effectively assist customers?
After considerable contemplation, I think something more complicated is happening when we hear that reaction. I think it is the sound of a burgeoning relationship.
Usually the above reaction occurs right after a anedotal story is told about how a supplier has assisted another client with their business needs. I think the reaction comes from the realization that the supplier is more than a list of services with corresponding prices. That supplier is a group of thinking people who possess the talents to help businesses solve problems. It is a symbolic beginning to a discussion based on a personal relationship not on information exchange and simple evaluation.
I think the only mistake that can be made at this point is to assume that the potential customer now fully understands our mission and our offerings. I believe this statement is an open door, but nothing more. If we do not choose to enter that door and ask for frank discussion around challenges the potential buyer is facing the excitement quickly dies.