A friend sent me a Tweet with a video that — if you are a marketer, business owner or sales pro — you absolutely MUST watch. Yes it’s funny. Because, as with all good humor; it’s based on the truth. But you’ll also cringe as you watch it because if you’ve been in business for even a few months; I guarantee you’ve met bad customers something like this.

Watch the video now, and then I’ve got one of the most critical questions you need to ask yourself if you want your business to be a source of pleasure instead of constant pain.

Ok, so pretty funny huh?! And it probably had you squirming in your seat too, right? If you’re like me, you were probably wanted to yell, “Bad customer! Bad, bad customer!”

But think about this; who created this type of customer? Like poorly trained dogs that the infamous “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan deals with; the problem is not with the dogs, but with the owners.

Customers, consumers, clients…. whatever label you want to apply — they are being trained by their “owners.” And in this fantastical metaphor, their “owners” are, well — YOU!

Maybe not you personally. I know you probably hate this type of prospect or customer. But the fact is they didn’t develop this “give it to me for free” attitude all on their own. They were TRAINED to behave like this.

A turning point

I remember in 1992 the first time I really grasped this “you train the customer on how you want to be treated” concept. At least grasped it enough to step out on a limb and put it into action. I was tired of dealing with the headaches and petty demands of clients in our Grounds Management division and had to make a change.

The only choice obvious to me was to drop the division from the company. Luckily my mentor at the time had a better solution. He told me I was responsible for the way our team in the office and in the field was being treated. I had “trained” these customers to act the way they were. I fought the idea at first, but my back was up against the wall, so I bought in.

Putting the solution into action was painful and scary at first. It involved re-training existing clients, “firing” the bad customers who would not comply, and going out to attract new clients who could be trained act the way we wanted. Add to that, we had to do all that in the middle of the recession of the early 90’s and you can imagine how “fun” that was.

But taking the responsibility and the actions my mentor guided me in transformed my business from a place where our team feared the customer, to a veritable pleasure palace in contrast. What we did in that brief span of 6-months laid the groundwork for us to turn nearly every convention of the industry literally on it’s head. So much so that within five years our profit margins were double the industry norm and our revenues matching companies with three-times the staff.

If I had not been willing to follow my mentor’s advice and had failed to accept the fact that I had created my own hell, I’d surely still be stuck back in New Jersey in that same six-figure business… miserable.

Will you be part of the problem… or part of the solution?

In large part today’s customer has been trained to expect something for nothing. And when something is given for nothing; it’s usually valued as such.

Marketers, in an attempt to extract as much money from consumers as possible by giving the customer “what he wants”, have so dumbed down the buying public that you really shouldn’t expect anything different than what you saw in the video above.

Maybe I’m wrong on this, but the most important question I think you can ask right now (and YES, even in the midst of the worst recession of our lifetimes,) is…

“Have I contributed to creating poorly trained consumers like this?”

If the answer is yes, what are you going to do about it? Will you admit it, (as painful as it might be,) and craft a plan to reverse it? Or ignore it, and let your customers rule the roost making your life a living hell?

I know my answer. I’m revisiting and resurrecting what worked for me back in 1992.

For the profit-minded and proactive there’s the “Marketing For Life” sales-success program to help reverse the ass-backward marketing that so many business owners and marketers are engaging in.

How about you?

Leave your thoughts in some graffiti down in the comment area below. ;-)

John-Paul Micek is a co-founder of the entreprenuerial development company RPM Success Group® Inc. He and his partner Deborah Micek are authors of the hit book Secrets Of Online Persuasion, and creators of the BLOG i360™ New Media Marketing Hub Site Software.
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