Before you read this, check out this heart-warming video, which shows an amazing French horse trainer, Francois Pignon. Listen as he explains to Martin Clunes that horses are constantly “scanning” human beings to see if those human beings are predators or protectors.
Our customers do the same thing. They’re scanning constantly – deciding who the predators are and who the protectors are. They keep track of companies and take note of how companies treat their customers. They notice, when they are searching for a product or service, how easy you make it for them. Every tiny step in their buying process, from search to research to purchase to use, is a test.
Your customers are constantly asking themselves: Protector? Or predator?
When you look at the world this way – not just the business world – you realize that just about every source of discord and unhappiness comes from one human being attempting to control another human being. Predators control, abuse, and hurt; protectors protect, nurture, and love.
We trust protective companies, the ones who are watching out for our best interests and behaving in a way that proves that they care. We hate predatory companies.
We also hate predatory salespeople. Most salespeople are focused on one thing: Closing the sale. Customers do not want the sale to be closed until they are sure they want to buy. From the beginning of the interaction, the goals of predatory salesperson and the customer are diametrically opposed. This is why customers do whatever they can to learn what they need to know about a product or service without involving a salesperson.
Thanks to the explosion of customer communities, it’s easier than ever to avoid salespeople. Now buyers have very effective tools – the same social media tools that marketers think of as “their” marketing tools. Buyers use these tools to efficiently and quickly find others with similar interests, people they trust to tell them the truth about their experiences with products and services. People who are not predators and who have no agenda.
This is a MASSIVE shift – one of the biggest shifts in the history of commerce. And I don’t mean just within “e” commerce. I mean in the history of human beings buying and selling.
All power is now in the hands of buyers, who don’t need marketers and salespeople anymore to make a buying decision. They can find the answers they need, amongst themselves.
Meanwhile, marketers and salespeople are in pure denial, pretending that they still hold all the power, that customers can be “persuaded,” and “converted.”
They are ignoring the elephant in the room: If you have treated your current customers in a predatory way, your future customers are going to find out. They won’t trust you, and they won’t buy from you.
Predatory or protective behavior starts at the top. I think Amazon, Apple, and Zappos are examples of companies that are seen as trustworthy/protective; I think almost all of the phone companies (certainly ATT and Verizon) are seen as predatory.
Where is your company on the protective/predatory scale? Is your company looking out for the interests of customers and employees? Does management encourage protective or predatory behavior?
No one wants to be prey. Everyone wants to be protected. Now that customers have a choice, they are flocking to the protectors and avoiding the predators like the plague.
P.S. This video led me to the conclusion that there are four types of people / animals / plants (and institutions) in the world: Protectors, Predators, Prey, and Parasites. Of course there are a lot of predators who act like protectors – politics is full of those types. How can we know the difference? Interesting question for our age.