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Remember to sell--the right way

Remember to sell--the right way

Find me an entrepreneur who shuns the idea of selling, and I'll find you someone who's going to struggle to succeed. But selling means different things to different people. The old school--and one that's still very popular--holds that you essentially have to trick people into buying from you by backing them into a corner from which there's little chance of escaping.

This might be the right tactic for a store that deals mainly with tourists who won't be back again or folks making a one-time purchase. (A biz-school professor of mine loves to tell a story about a jewelry store near a military base whose main salesperson--a well-coiffed blonde woman--did a wonderful job of guilt-tripping soldiers into spending more than they ever would have on an engagement ring.)

But for most businesses, you probably want repeat business, and for that, it's probably best to give your customers some respect. J D Moore, who writes the Marketing Comet blog, writes about the right balance and getting it right. Today's savvy customers, he notes, want to be made to feel good, not be harangued into a purchase. You might get some short-term dollars by badgering, but isn't it better to think about the lifetime value of a happy buyer?

And David V. Lorenzo, in noting a long e-mail exchange with Typepad over service he found unsatisfactory, writes words of wisdom for the 21st-century service company, which means most companies of any worth these days:

"Great service organizations do not ask their customers to adjust. Great service organizations adjust to their customers' needs."