Is that a statement of fact or should it be up for debate? There are those who believe it is always a statement of fact, usually customers of course but with a smattering of sales people who believe it’s the only attitude to have in a sales environment. This willingness on the part of the salesperson to give the upper hand to the client only so that he or she may succeed is possibly a very traditional approach. It’s one I remember myself being told by a former manager and one I have great respect for to this day as he taught me some 25+ years ago that it didn’t matter if the customer was right or wrong, all that mattered was that they felt they had the upper hand in the relationship and that was enough for them to want to buy from you. With a big mortgage and a love for long-haul holidays it was good advice.
Times have certainly changed in marketing (and sales) during the intervening period.
Don’t get me wrong, as a marketer I very much appreciate that if what we do as professionals doesn’t persuade our clients to purchase then of course we have failed. So to that extent the customer’s opinion is the only opinion that should concern any of us, me included. But dependant on the type of customer (B2C or B2B), the product or service being sold and the ability of the customer in whichever sphere we are speaking about, then it’s right that you should carefully try to influence their opinion. After all, if you are employed to sell and you know your product well, then you should respectfully show your enthusiasm to the customer/client for the products capabilities.
But what if you’re not a salesman? What if you are a consultant, like me? I’m still a salesman, after all I run my own business and still need to pay that mortgage! But as a consultant the position of the customer always being right is now turned on its head. Suddenly the paying customer has taken a much different position and my role is the one that is expected to be able to lead and advise. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a Consultant as ‘A person qualified to give professional advice or services, e.g. in problems of management or design; an adviser.’ Customers still have the right to disagree, they are paying the bill after all, but when you are faced with a difficult dilemma, what should come first…my professional opinion and the potential risk to the ‘sale’, or their inability to see what’s actually going wrong and failing to do anything about it, but me taking their cash?
Is the customer always right?
By all means, please let me know your opinion.