What Matters to Customers Today

As the times change, people do too – the customer is an evolving creature, and as such, the salesman needs to evolve as well.

Seth Godin, entrepreneur, writes about this on his blog, saying that those that are successful distinguish themselves by understanding what matters. This in itself isn’t an easy, and its difficulty is compounded by the fact that what matters to customers is constantly shifting. Successful salesmen not only understand what matters to customers; they also understand the temporal nature of what matters to customers.

With that being said, what matters to customers today?

Evolving Customer Values:
Salesmen need to understand the values of customers, which are often in reflected in societal trends.

Revisiting Value and Quality
The economic downturn of 2008 has led to a real focus on value and quality – evidenced by the surging popularity of review websites for any number of products and services. Today, reviews for gadgets, cars, bikes – even restaurants, haircuts – are available, and are widely consulted before any purchases are made. Since there now exist so many public forums that broadcast the desirability of a given product or service, they are forced to improve and innovate. While this is great for consumers, it demonstrates the frugality of today’s commercial environment.

A Focus on Experiences
Materialism is on the downturn as customers opt for real experiences, like vacations and movie-watching, over the acquisition of material items like a computer. In a study commissioned by the Wyndham Hotel Group, the world’s largest hotel company, 70% of travelers indicated that they intended on vacationing at least as much, if not more, than they had in the previous year. Studies have shown that experiences, rather than objects, are what make people happy.

Social and Environmental Consciousness
Is it environmentally friendly? Were any animals harmed in the production of this product? Does it support small businesses? Is there a charitable component? These are questions being asked by customers today. They want products and services with integrity, that can somehow bring goodness into the world. Products from organic fruits and vegetables, to Nike’s alleged sweatshops in South East Asia, to the working conditions at Foxconn, a major parts manufacturer for Apple, are under the microscope for their integrity – and this has potential implications for each company’s bottom line.