About three months ago, I bought a new car. I spent four months beforehand researching options, taking test drives and figuring out the right car for me. I was replacing a 13-year old minivan that had topped 210,000 miles. The last visit with my mechanic discovered needed repairs were going to cost more than the car was worth. It is a familiar story to many. For me though, this was a chance to learn lessons from Scott Monty and Seth Godin.
During my research, I ended up chatting on Twitter with Scott Monty @scottmonty, the head of social media for Ford. In our chats, I shared with him of my bias against Ford because of my two experiences driving Fords. After telling him when I had owned them, he responded with a simple “We have changed our cars for the better since then.” When I shared that I had tried the new Taurus SHO, but had nixed it because of how the door frame came down making it very difficult for a tall man like me to get in and out of the car, he was very understanding and suggested I look at a couple of other models.
I did test drive other Ford models, but ultimately ended up with a different model all together that most met my needs. When I shared the purchase with him, Scott responded that it was a good car, obviously he was biased towards his own company, yet he wished me good luck in my purchase. His interaction left me with a positive opinion of Ford and turned my feelings around toward them. When my wife starts looking for a car, you can rest assured Ford will be on her list. (I think she is already leaning towards a T-bird convertible.)
This brings me to a lesson I learned from a blog post by Seth Godin. In this entry about being criticized for his choices for business partners, Seth wrote, “As she and a few other people chimed in with their take on how misguided, lousy and doomed this (other) company (I was doing business with) was, I couldn’t help but notice myself thinking less of my hosts.” Seth Godin is the author of such books as Purple Cow, Linchpin, and All Marketers are Liars (Tell Stories). Scott Monty never once criticized my decision and choice of vehicle. He told me how Ford had changed and not that I was an idiot for choosing a car made by another company.
How many times have as travel agents have we rolled our eyes and thought our (potential) clients were idiots for bringing this great deal they found online? Wouldn’t we be better served if we used the opportunity to educate our clients on just what this “deal” entailed? Is it worth our time to allow our client’s as Seth Godin wrote “to make a new decision based on new information, goals and resources?” Take these lessons from Scott Monty and Seth Godin and learn from them. Don’t make your client’s feel like idiots. Give them a chance to learn from you and then make the decision that is right for them. You may not make that sale today, but someone who was made to feel like an idiot most definitely will never return.
Chuck Flagg is a regular contributor to TRO and an independent owner/operator of Cruise Holidays in Canton, GA. His website is http://www.theflaggagency.com/ He can be found on Twitter @theflaggagency