in his best-seller, The Greatest Management Principle in the World ,
says that any behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated. Guerrillas
build a "fifth column" of customers, a loyal underground of followers
who fight for the cause by rewarding them at every turn.
As the customer
turns to leave the stereo shop, the guerrilla adds, "Oh, by the way,
you're going to need a pair of headphones, especially when your teenagers
get their hands on this new system. Here, take these with my compliments."
"Wow! Thank you
for all your time and help, but the headphones, this is wonderful!"
No buyer's remorse here! This customer is excited about the new stereo
system, and grateful to the guerrilla for selling it to him.
that this last step in the NaB & CaPTuRe selling track is the most critical,
and the one most often overlooked by the competition. Rewarding customers
involves keeping something extra in reserve, congratulating your new
clients, then delighting them by "throwing it in" at the last minute.
have given the customer the reward, they disappear into the sunset like
the Lone Ranger. Hurry on to your next call, help another shopper, or
go hide in the stockroom. You want to be remembered for the reward,
so give the customer something special to remember you by. Be warned:
your customers will be so pleased they'll want to continue the conversation.
Be polite, but break it off.
The objective of
the Reward is to leave the new customer feeling special. One of our
clients runs a very successful office supply store and is devoted to
promoting environmentally responsible products. After writing up the
order for a new copier, the clerk thumps his forehead and says, "Oh,
I almost forgot! You're going to need some paper. Let me throw in a
case, no charge. I'd like for you to try this recycled copier paper;
it's a bit more expensive than virgin stock, but it has a smoother finish,
and besides, I don't want to mess up my paperwork."
No matter how hairy
the negotiations may have been, no matter how remorseful they might
feel about spending the money, even if they think they could have wangled
a better deal elsewhere, the last thing the customers are left with
is a feeling of surprise and conquest.
Mike Lavin runs
the Berkley Design Shop and two other sleep and kid's furniture stores
in the San Francisco Bay area. When a customer purchases a complete
bed set -- mattress and platform frame, and the purchase has been completed,
the salesperson who wrote up the order says, "Oh, by the way, why don't
you go over to our linen display and pick out a set of sheets. They're
on us." He could have bundled a sheet set with the package, but that
would defeat the objective. For the reward to be effective, it must
be something beyond the customer's expectations.
Part of this is
gratitude, an expression of appreciation for the business. But frankly,
Mike knows that the average American keeps a bed for nine years, and
if he treats them right, they'll come back to buy all their future linen
at the Berkley Design Shop.
From a weekend
at a resort to a free order of fries, guerrillas have learned the power
of giving customers something extra when they make the sale. But make
sure that the customer knows it's a bonus. A guerrilla copy shop offers
a courtesy telephone, marked by a large sign that says "For our Customers'
Convenience," and a mail drop with a sign that reads, "We'd like to
save you the trip." A lumberyard gives every customer an oversized flat
carpenters' pencil, imprinted with the stores name and number, but before
putting it in the bag, the clerk always mentions, "These are usually
a dollar, but today it's just our way of saying 'Thanks.'"
Everyone loves to
win, and everyone loves getting something for nothing, especially when
they don't expect it. So guerrillas send every customer away feeling
as though they just hit the jackpot. It feels like winning the lottery
or getting a call from Publishers Clearing House. In the Reward Stage,
guerrillas secure their position with customers by always rewarding
them for their business.
One of the most powerful ways to reward people who do business with
you is to pay attention to them. Even something as simple as a hand-written
thank-you note can be a reward. It's an old-fashioned custom that's
seldom used in business, but it differentiates a guerrilla from a competitor
by showing you care.
The travel industry
has put the reward tactic to work as competition for the business traveler
heats up. Amenities like shampoo, hair driers and mini-bars used to
be found in only the best hotels. Now, even low end properties pamper
guests with a complimentary basket of goodies. Frequent patronage is
rewarded with free upgrades and limo service, complimentary cocktails,
coffee, newspapers, and breakfast, or even credits toward catalog merchandise.
Airlines have established
special clubs and lounges where they lavish their customers with VIP
check-in, comfy chairs, big-screen TV, workstation-size phone booths,
desks, conference rooms, fax machines, snacks, and a private bar. Customers
pay a substantial annual fee for the privilege of being pampered, and
will endure long connection delays in order to fly their airline of
choice. And all because they're members of the Club. Rewards win customers
and keep them coming back.
The Right Attitude
Approaching the Reward Stage with the right attitude is essential. Contrast
the attitudes of two major airlines, as reflected in the way they administer
their frequent-flyer programs. Both companies compete for lucrative
business travelers in every major market in North America. Both programs
reward customers with a free round-trip ticket after they've flown 20,000
The first airline
restricts how the free ticket can be used: you must fly Monday through
Thursday, stay over a weekend, and book the trip at least seven days
in advance. Holidays are blacked out as well, and once the ticket is
cut, it's non-negotiable. They feel that they're giving you a free ride,
so you really can't complain. Their attitude is, "You're a freeloader.
We don't care, because we don't have to."
The second airline
allows their customers to use the free ticket any day of the week, without
restriction (except for some holidays) on a space-available basis. You
can book your trip as close as one hour before departure, and if your
travel plans change, the ticket is completely negotiable for up to a
year. Their attitude is "We want to do everything we can for you. You're
one of our most valued customers."
Both airlines are
giving away an identical seat, but the perceived value of the reward
in the customers' minds are quite different. An attitude of gratitude
is what matters. Perhaps that's why the first airline is losing millions,
while the second just placed orders for 40 billion dollars worth of