“Hey Parker, there’s a basketball clinic at the gym I can put you in. It should be fun. You interested?”
“Not sure,” he said.
“Well, what’s your favorite sport? Did you like wrestling?” I asked my 6 year old.
“It was ok,” Parker answered.
“What about basketball?” I inquired further.
“I liked basketball better,” he said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because we got to sit when they switched the groups during the games,” Parker deadpanned.
“So your favorite part of basketball was when you didn’t have to play?” I asked, completely exasperated.
“Pretty much,” he answered.
With that I, of course, became determined to enroll him in the aforementioned basketball clinic as a kind of punishment for his honesty, or something twisted like that. I decided to call Adrian — the guy who teaches the clinics — for more information. Specifically, I noted his promotional flyer said you could buy a package of four sessions. The classed were held twice a week (Sunday afternoon and Wednesday early evening). You could come to either session, but you had to use all four of your sessions within a month of signing up. My issue was that the Sunday classes were much more appealing (scheduling-wise) than the Wednesday sessions, and I noted in my upcoming schedule that we’d be busy for at least one of the upcoming Sunday sessions, thus making it difficult to complete the four sessions in four weeks.
“So I noticed on your flyer that the four sessions have to be done in a month from signing. Are you pretty strict with that? Because I have a conflict on one or two upcoming Sundays?” I asked.
“Pretty strict. You know you can come Wednesday too,” he said.
“Wednesdays are a little tough with school and aftercare,” I said.
“I get that,” I said. “I’ll see what I can do, but if we go a week over will that be ok?” I pleaded.
“Yeah. But see what you can do,” Adrian said.
After I got off the phone, I pondered his approach.
One the one hand, I was the customer, and if I didn’t care how long it took us to get our lessons in, why should he? But then I thought about his side of the story, and I realized that he knew every one of those little students were potential walking (or dribbling) advertisements — with that potential only being realized if they could play the game.
I’ve seen this dynamic at some of my son’s games. The parents watching on the sideline would see one little phenom dribble up the court with one hand, encounter a defender and seamlessly change the ball to his other hand, then glide by the defender on his way to the basket for a graceful layup.
“Wow – that kid has definitely had some training,” someone would whisper.
Eventually and on occasion, an actual answer would come back, followed by note taking, and then a call to the trainer. Cha-ching.
Smart businessmen like Adrian — and a certain EHR software vendor we all know — focus on outcomes, not just making the sale. The sale, you see, is just the first part of the job, which doesn’t end until the customer is not only up and running, but doing so in grand style and with great success.
Of course, this is approach is easier said than done, and the devil comes into play when a customer like me is asking for a little more time to get his lessons in, or a customer of healthsystemCIO.com is asking to be the sole speaker on their webinar, for example. We know that webinar sessions do better when an end user, or hospital employee, is on the line to take part in the discussion. And what do we do with customers who don’t want to take such advice? Well, let’s just say we take an Adrian-like approach, trying to meet everyone half way.
Is that the best way to be successful, or is a black-and-white, my-way-or-the-highway mode the way to go? I’m not sure, but I do know there is something to be said for encouraging your customers to follow the proven paths you’ve already tread. Because sometimes, that can make all the difference.