Another question might be, “Should there even be a difference in how prospects and customers are treated?” Many business owners will immediately assume that there is no difference in how prospects and customers are treated. They think and assume that both are treated the same. But, are they really treated the same?
First a Prospect
Business prospects are usually promised:
• The best product or service a business has to offer • The best customer service during and after a sales transaction • The best possible pricing • Prompt replies to telephone and email inquires • Complete customer satisfaction
Depending on the business and industry, prospects might even be:
• Entertained • Contracts and terms discussed and negotiated • Special provisions promised • Repeated contact during the sales process
All of this is for the purpose of closing the sale. Competition is intense, and the small business owner must do everything possible to make a sale. Regardless of the business sector...retail, service, or manufacturing...prospects are often promised whatever it takes to “close the deal.”
Now a Customer
The sale is made, and now the prospect becomes a customer. Often times going forward, this (unfortunately) becomes the scenario:
• The quality of products and services begins to change and deteriorate • Customer service is not what it was represented to be • Additional pricing and hidden costs surface • Replies to telephone and email inquiries are no longer answered promptly • Customer satisfaction declines
What happened? The prospect turned into a customer and everything changed!
The customer is no longer the once excited prospect and feels deceived, frustrated, and wondering how the attitude and promises of the business could change so quickly. The great relationship enjoyed during the sales process quickly turns to one of animosity. The new customer starts to immediately consider competitors for the next purchase.
Customer is Forgotten
Somehow, the business forgot who actually pays the bills. The owner and/or managers fail to realize that the time and cost of acquiring new customers far exceeds the time and cost of retaining current customers. Without consciously knowing it, the business subscribes to a theory of “burn and churn” customers. Rather than concentrating on a policy of developing long-term customer relationships and business sustainability, the business treats prospects one way and customers another way which creates a revolving door of:
• Prospects in • Customers out • Prospects in • Customers out
A Lasting Effect
The above situation creates a never-ending cycle of lost customers, negative reviews, wasted time, and additional costs. If current customers are treated the same as they are treated when they are prospects, a potential disastrous cycle of “prospects in and customers out” is easily reversed. When prospects and customers are treated the same, business grows and profits increase. This certainly answers the question of: “Should prospects and customers be treated the same?”