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I’ve just been stung! How not to grow a business

Tuesday, 20 August 2013 | By Jonathan Weinstock

I’m inspired to write this as I’ve just attended a seminar I wish I had walked out of after 10 minutes.


The sales pitch about the event was remarkably different to what was delivered. Everything about the event stunk.


I’ve been stung and feel stung. Don’t you hate being stung? It’s a terrible feeling and it hurts. Being stung makes you feel ‘yuck’. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth, feeling angry and wanting to vent (hence my blog post!). All trust is gone with this mob and I’m likely to talk more about my bad experiences than my positive experiences.


I won’t lose sleep over it, but I guarantee you that I won’t be attending any of their future events, and will be recommending others to be very careful with this organisation.


While I can’t get my time back, I will always have a story to share with one of my business partners who also attended about how bad the event was!


Keep in mind that I am very selective about the events I go to and do try to make sure the event hasn’t been oversold in terms of what’s on offer. Also consider that because of my unbelievable experiences with the Entrepreneurs Organisation (EO) events I attend regularly, I am probably quite fussy and critical, and expect quality when I attend non-EO events.


Here’s the moral of the story: Deliver what you say and don’t sting others! Make customers happy before trying to win more customers. Get it right. Deliver what you promise. Happy customers refer you more customers. Your business grows. Especially during a start-up phase you need happy customers! Sounds simple right?


I am not here to rant on about good customer service or unethical salespeople. The issue goes much deeper here. There is often a disconnect between the sales team and the operational team who deliver the actual product or service. Salespeople want to make sales and are incentivised to do so. However, the sales pitch creates an expectation in the customer’s mind.


The easiest way to grow is to actually provide a great product or service ‘in the eyes’ of the customer. Customers then come back and refer more customers. I call this ‘operational excellence’ in line with ‘matching expectations’. Do you think Gordon Ramsay would accept a substandard meal to go out in his restaurant?


It’s about delivering what you promise, otherwise the customer ‘feels’ stung! Whether they have been stung or not is irrelevant if they ‘feel’ stung. The price is irrelevant. Make sure you under-promise and over-deliver wherever possible. Work out what you can deliver and offer slightly less. Then constantly strive to improve your product and offer more over time. Blowing the customer away beyond their expectation is even better. Far too many businesses overpromise and under-deliver.


It’s a human right and not a privilege in our society to be treated fairly and not get ripped off. That’s why we have Today Tonight and ACA on at prime time to hear about the shonky builder! Can you imagine ringing the equivalent of Consumer Affairs in Bangkok saying you got ripped off and overpaid for your fake Nike t-shirt?


Or in Bali, you paid twice as much as the last tourist for that Sarong! The irony in this is that you almost come to ‘expect’ being ripped off over there so you aren’t so disappointed! The expectation is to overpay as a tourist!


Now here’s the test of the health of our economy:

  1. How many products or service providers have blown you away in the last 12 months and over delivered and made you feel amazing?
  2. Now, how many times have you felt ‘stung’ in the last 12 months?

If B is more than A, our economy is in real trouble. In desperate times and probably in many third world countries, B tends to be disproportionately higher than A. The world needs more A’s. We need more positive experiences and stories spreading and we all win!