Long time no speak. Sorry about the delay since my last post. A few updates. In one of my recent posts, How BMW sells cars, I left you not knowing which car I had decided to buy. Well, I decided on the beemer and I am picking it up tomorrow. I am very excited. But let's talk about greed for a minute. Is greed the reason for all of the different financial crises we read about every day? What about the collapse of so many US banks? How much money is too much? Now, you might think this is interesting commentary from someone who, in the previous paragraph, talked about getting a BMW. But to me, these are two different points. Greed is when you have more than one person could ever need, yet still want more. I am not greedy, I just like a nice car (but I only need one, not 10). Case in point: the bank CEO who makes $10m per year and still tries to get more by using business practices that may not be the most ethical. Case in point: the professional basketball player who makes $16m per year and sells marijuana to little kids. Case in point: the world-class sprinter who uses performance enhancing drugs to get even better. You think these examples are fictional? Look at Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers, Zach Randolph of the Memphis Grizzlies and Marion Jones, then get back to me. Greed has ruled our countries for too long and it is the greed of a few that hurts everyone else.
Steve Jobs changed the face of competition when he announced that the Apple iPhone and iPad would not support Adobe Flash technology. This has created a feud between the two former business partners that is leaving a trail of bad blood. Adobe has recently taken out newspaper ads telling customers how much they love Apple. Are they taking the high road or pining for sympathy? I go with the latter. They realize that without being on Apple's platforms, they will lose much of the market share that they currently hold as more consumers use their iPhones and iPads to replace laptops and computers. No doubt there is a hint of sarcasm in Adobe's loving message, but I am not sure taking on Apple with kid gloves is the way to win this war. This reeks somewhat of desperation – a last ditch effort to save what might be an application whose better days are behind it. Although most of us use Flash technology and don't even know it (through videos and websites), a new technology, html5 is taking hold. Don't ask me to explain the new technology because that is not what I am here to do (besides, it would only confuse you more). The point being that Adobe needs to think strategically about how it will play this game. The ads they are running speak to wanting to ensure that everyone has a choice as to the technology that they use and the applications that they download. Adobe claims that Apple is taking this right away from users by not permitting Flash to be used. My question is: does the average person really care what technology is used? I am all for fair competition but Apple obviously has a reason for doing this, and as self-serving as that reason must be, what can be done about it? Is this any different than Microsoft embedding their own products are part of their operating system? In principle this situation is the same, however, the big difference is that html5 is not Apple technology. So what does Apple have to gain by blocking Adobe Flash from their machines? Apple has repeatedly claimed that Flash is "buggy" and causes its Macintosh computers to crash. How often this happens is being debated. Apple seems to know what they are doing, but a by-product of their decision might be to polarize developers. Up until recently, it has never been an either/or choice. You could develop software using Flash or html5 and it would be compatible anywhere. Now what will Flash developers do? Apple products are growing faster than any other handheld device and all signs are pointing to the fact that people will use their cell phones and handheld devices more and more in the future. These Flash developers are many of the same developers who build apps for Apple products. Will there be an underground revolution started by Flash developers and advocates? As with everything else, there is a Facebook group that has been started so you can follow along and see what transpires.
In my most recent post, I praised the experience that I had with BMW when looking for a new car. I sit here to talk about the exact opposite experience I just had when looking at an Audi. The experience was so poor that I feel it necessary to tell you that the culprits were Uptown Audi. Imagine going into a dealership, being asked if you have any questions and saying "not really, tell me a little bit about the car." Then being told that it had a big trunk and all wheel-drive, but nothing about the safety features or gadgets or unique technology (I had mentioned that my kids would sometimes be riding in the car, implying safety was important). There was not one piece of information to get me excited about the car or the experience. We then moved over to the salesman's desk where he pulled up a spreadsheet and started crunching numbers for me (not at my request, by the way), each one showing a number above my budget. After 5 minutes of this I said "let's not worry about the money, I have not even driven the car yet." The salesman gets me the keys for a test drive and says "I won't be joining you as one of my appointments just arrived." So I took the car for a test drive by myself. No opportunity for him to sell me on the car, no opportunity to build a relationship, no opportunity to relate to me as a potential buyer. I finished the test drive, dropped the keys on his desk (where he was sitting with another customer) and said thanks and walked out. Advice to all salespeople: if you are with another customer or know that someone is coming in shortly, tell me. Don't try and juggle two customers, it won't work and you might end up losing both. Tell me up front and I will either decide to wait or you can refer me to another salesperson. Don't make me feel like a second-class citizen or like someone else is more important than me. You are not going to sell me a car in 10 minutes, so don't try to. It is an emotional purchase, so appeal to my self-interest. Safe to say I went ahead and got the BMW and a major reason was the treatment I received there. The treatment you receive at the beginning is indicative of the treatment you will receive throughout, so think about how you treat customers and potential customers.
Do you want to know how to accelerate the sales cycle for your business? Take a lesson from BMW. I am in the market for a new car and one of my options to research was a Beemer. Why not? Now take note, I had never even been inside a BMW before, let alone drive one. Well, what an experience they provided. The experience (and I say experience because it is just that) begins with you walking into a beautiful facility with lots of windows, state of the art design, and of course, mountains of beautiful cars. Nobody jumps on you as you walk through the door, but you are permitted to wander for a few minutes before asked if you want some help. "Yes," I say, "I am in the market for a car." The first thing I am told is that driving a BMW is like no other experience I will ever encounter. I am intrigued. The conversation goes on and I find out all about the features of the model I am interested in. There was a special focus on using words like "performance" and "unique." By the end, I could not believe that a car could do all of these things. Then comes the kicker, all service is included for the life of the car. This is not a huge dollar value necessarily, but a billiant marketing move. I am drooling at the prospect of driving this car. Then comes the test drive, the piece de resistance. We pick up the car and I enter the passenger side. I am then chauffeured around sharp turns and straightaways at speeds I did not think were possible. I was then told to "brace myself" as my driver slammed on the brakes going 80km/h with his hands in the air to show me the control of the car. It was then my turn to drive. Yes, it was better than expected. The car is an amazing piece of machinery and like nothing I have ever driven. I will digress from the story to say that there are two things that companies can learn from BMW:
- Offer your customers a unique experience – I don't know or care if the car I drove is the best on the market. The experience provided to me was like nothing I had ever witnessed before and that will definitely factor into my decision.
- Know your target market and appeal to them – BMW knows its' drivers like to drive fast. They don't hide that, they relish in it by using words like performance, but also stress the safety of the vehicle. The premise being, buyers will enjoy the car even more (aka go faster) if they feel safe inside.
Remember that customers need to feel special and that will create the emotional reaction that pushes them to buy your products over the competition. Make sure you provide that experience for them. I have not decided yet which car I will buy, but I can certainly tell you that I will never forget my journey into the BMW dealership because of the feeling of anxiety and nervousness walking in, compared with the feeling of adrenaline and comfort walking out.