What exactly are you selling?
Steve Shankin, Founder/President/CEO - Seizmik and Vialink
November 19, 2012
Filed under Aftermarket
You’re selling fun, adrenalin, freedom — or some other emotion or experience. Your customers don’t have a burning passion for owning a motorcycle, ATV, UTV, or whatever. They have a burning passion for riding, feeling the wind in their face, or the thrill of acceleration. Or maybe they want a UTV or ATV to go hunting. Or maybe they want to feel young again.
Your customers don’t think “I’d really like to have a tiny little scooter;” they want a way to get to where they need to go on a tight budget, or minimize their carbon footprint, or have an easier time parking. Harley-Davidson gets it — they’re known for the famous quote “What we sell is the ability for a 43-year-old accountant to dress in black leather, ride through small towns and have people be afraid of him.”
I worked in bicycle shops in high school and college and early on I was taught to ask, “What kind of bike are you looking for?” Later on, I heard a smarter, more experienced guy ask, “What kind of riding do you want to do?” With a quick follow-up question of “And what are your goals for the riding you want to do?” or sometimes “And why did you pick that type of riding?” The difference in the questions is HUGE. I found that most customers, especially the noobs, didn’t know WHAT they wanted (but they frequently thought they did) because they didn’t know what was available. But most customers knew what they wanted to DO. When I made it my business to understand their actual needs and wants, I did phenomenally well. When I was just trying to sell a bike, I did just OK. I’ve never been the kind of guy to be satisfied with “just OK.” Are you? Gosh, we’ve got lots in common. Let’s go have a beer.
I’m in the UTV accessory business, but I’m not selling hood racks, windshields, or mirrors — I’m selling efficiency, convenience and comfort. I’m selling the ability for your customer who bought a vehicle from you to get the most of what he wants out of the vehicle you sold him. The more this gets done, the happier your customer is going to be, and the better that is for everyone. And when the customer is happy, we’re all happy. Let’s face it, the customers pay the bills.
You’re not done when you send the vehicle out the door, fully prepped and working great. You’re done when you’ve done a great job of meeting your customers’ needs and wants — and they’re happy.
Seriously, lets go have a beer. I’m buying. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set it up.
Steve Shankin is founder/president/CEO (Chief Executive Optimist) of Seizmik and its parent company, Vialink. As a result of his big brain (read: luck), he got into the UTV accessory business in 2002, well before it was what all the cool kids were doing. His companies have designed whole vehicles and extensively studied how consumers use UTVs. He still calls them “UTVs” and not “side-by-sides.” He’s a father of three girls, competitive cyclist and not a very good cook but he keeps on tryin’ anyway.