I’m a big fan of business and investing books about how to achieve financial freedom. The idea of financial freedom is just so appealing to me. I love to read books from authors who talk about personal finance, money, building wealth, cash flow, real estate investing, passive income, how to build online businesses, how to become an entrepreneur and achieve financial freedom.
After reading a particular authors book, I decided to go on his website and see what other services he offered. I certainly don’t want to name this person. I respect and admire his business and him and it’s not the point of this article.
I am a CEO of a consulting firm and, I get 20 emails a day from email marketing trying to pitch me services. I’m also an angel investor and, I get another 20 emails a week with proposals to invest in their companies. I’m sure we all feel email bloat. So, I’m a little skittish about handing out my main email. That’s why I use a generic yahoo account when I am in research mode when it comes to investigating services.
Here’s what happened. I wanted to get more information about the products and services this financial guru offered. He had gated content which means that I had to provide my email address before I could continue any further which I did. The website said it was close to any new customers right now, but it would open sometime later. In a day or two I got an email informing me that the opportunity was open and I had a three day window to explore what the services they were offering, what those services entailed and what it might be like. I got a couple emails every day conveying the value proposition and why I should sign up. I did not take any action during that three day window and it closed. I got an email which had some questions for me to which I replied to. I asked if this was an auto responder email or if I was speaking directly to the financial guru, which he replied it was him. I asked a couple more questions and let him know that if I got satisfactory answers to my two questions, I would buy his service. Well, I got a response from him. He said that his paid-fee services probably weren’t good a fit for me. He had rejected me as a potential customer. He took away my opportunity to buy his products and services because he assumed I wouldn’t buy.
I can completely understand why the author decided and communicated the way he did. Makes perfect sense given the information he had in front of him. I was coming from a Yahoo account. The names didn’t match. It just probably didn’t look like a real lead. Regardless of how much I idolize him or how good I believe his services might be, I will probably never do business with him. His value system is either misrepresented in a sales and marketing processes or his value system is not in alignment with mine.
I had a real reaction and emotional response to his communication. It hit three emotional triggers for me. The first is that I don’t like rejection. Probably no one does. The second is that I also don’t want to be a bother to anyone. I had asked a couple questions. I’m really sensitive about whether I’m being a bother to anyone. And third, I don’t like being in a sales situation where urgency pressure tactics are used. It feels like manipulation and I don’t like to be manipulated. My emotional reactions are not his responsibility. I did not hold him at fault for my emotional reaction. But in thinking about building my own online business I would never want to leave someone feeling in such a way.
While this financial guru touts that entrepreneurs should be customer-centric, he was anything but. He was more committed to weeding out people who might waste his time. I totally get that desire, but there’s a way to do it. I would never do what he did in my consulting business. At my consulting firm, I get requests all the time that just don’t fit our business, but I always bring it back to a question a customer can answer, which leads them to filter themselves out. Then, I try and provide them an alternative that might be workable for them and send them on their way.
Once, a long time ago, I walked into the Ritz Hotel in London with a friend and we thought, “Oh, wouldn’t it be great to have tea at the Ritz?” We were dressed in jeans. A bellboy came up to us and ask how he could help us. We said we wanted to have tea in the famous tea room. He slightly chuckled and basically said there have been full reservations for two weeks and we’re woefully under-dressed. He said we might like to try the Brown Derby down the street and that they didn’t have a dress code. He escorted us out. When we were outside, we looked at each other, laughed and said, “Did we just get handled?” We had gotten blown off, but he did it in style. It worked just fine because he was still coming from the context of customer service.
Why am I telling all of you this? It’s because circumstances like this create opportunity! When looking for where in the market you can provide a product or service, one way to get ideas is by finding bad customer experience. Those are opportunities for you. There’s a market out there of people who are looking for investment and entrepreneurial advice who find urgency based marketing un-appealing and repulsive. That’s an opportunity for people who want to deliver a product or service in that space. It’s an opportunity for me because I am looking to be in this specific niche.
Next time you have an unpleasant user or customer experience, think about whether there’s an opportunity or not for you to take advantage. Look in the industry or niche you would like to launch your own product or service. This might help you create some ideas and get you one step further down the path to starting a company and being an entrepreneur.