Where Your Customers Are

Consumers today are online, so it’s critical you are too.

By Carole Mahoney

Full disclosure: I’m a complete country girl. My home in the woods of Maine is a small little homestead with gardens for vegetables, fruit, and herbs as well as 16 chickens. Living with well water is the norm for us.

Still, when our water pressure disappeared a few weeks ago and the sediment started showing up, I didn’t know where to turn. Do I call a plumber? Do I try to call the company that put the well in 27 years ago? (They are not around anymore.)

So, my poor husband spent an entire weekend on YouTube and driving back and forth to a hardware store trying to figure it out. When the situation got worse, I’ll admit, I started to panic.

“We’re in a drought; could the well be dried up? Can they dig it deeper if so?” That’s what one neighbor told me.

“Or maybe it’s the well pump? Or the pressure tank in the house?” That’s what another neighbor told me.

Everyone had an opinion, but not a lot of solid information. So, I turned to Google and started searching for the cost to drill a new well or having a new pump or new pressure tank installed.

Those dollar signs made me start to panic even more. But all the sites that I found were companies in other parts of my state, and even though they had great information, they weren’t in my area.

So, I made some calls to local well companies I found on Google. Most didn’t have a website—just a phone number. I called several and was lucky if I got voicemail and even luckier if that voicemail box wasn’t full.

My well water is far too important to rely on someone who I can’t reach when I need them. And since I didn’t know them, I wasn’t about to give them the benefit of the doubt.

TIP No. 1:
Today’s buyer builds trust online first.

Without a website, or at the very least a complete Google business listing, I wondered if these companies were legit. And with few or no reviews about the business, I wasn’t about to jump into spending several thousand dollars without knowing how reliable they were.

A simple website that gives contact information (email and phone), customer testimonials, services offered, and a frequently asked questions page is an inexpensive way to start building that trust.

Thankfully, one company that my neighbor recommended did have a voicemail and even called me back on a Saturday. They were at my house on Monday morning.

TIP No. 2:
Be super responsive.

Remember, even though I’m not new to country living, I was still panicking. My nightmare was that our well was dry, we wouldn’t have water for some time, and that it was going to cost me tens of thousands of dollars. Knowing that someone would be there the next day possible to give me answers was a huge relief.

When Dan the water well contractor showed up at the time he promised, I had a ton of questions. After all, I had spent the whole weekend Googling possible scenarios.

Dan was patient and talked me through it as he worked to pull out the well pump. He showed me where there was a crack in it and explained how the pressure had dropped because the pump wasn’t able to push the water to the house—it was just spraying back into the well.

He then explained that even in a drought our artisan well was plenty deep at 163 feet with a water table at 60 feet. And because he had pumps in his truck, he could replace the cracked pump right there and then. All he needed was a credit card for the $1500 fee.

I’ve never been so delighted to hand over my credit card.

Soon water was pumping back into the house. But we still had a pressure and sediment problem. Upon further inspection, Dan noticed that the bladder tank in the house was not only old, but a lower-end model he would never recommend. He gave me a quote and said he’d be in touch and replace it if we wished. He followed up a few days later and we scheduled the rest of the repairs.

TIP No. 3:
Your service personnel are critical front-line salespeople.

Dan didn’t just come, do the job, and leave. He asked questions, found other potential issues, and followed through with what he said he would do. When I asked if we needed a sediment filter (another one of my Google searches), he told us it wasn’t something that they do, and it might not be necessary. But if I wanted it, he gave us advice on what to look for and how it should be installed.

Dan wasn’t just fixing a well problem, he gave me honest advice and peace of mind. I was so delighted that I called his company to rave about Dan and will be writing them a positive review on the Better Business Bureau website and Google.

But that’s because I know how that helps them get more business. Most customers won’t do that.

TIP No. 4:
Make it easy for happy customers to spread the word.

Referrals are your best source of new customers. I found Dan because a neighbor recommended them. Now, had Dan’s company sent me a link to review their service after my electronic payment (something most payment systems can be set up to do), they would have known that without me having to chase them down again.

And if after my positive feedback they had sent me their Google listing or BBB profile, I would have already written my reviews—which would in turn have helped them rank higher in searches when new customers like me are panicking and searching.

As this global pandemic has evolved, I’ve seen many families come to realize that living in crowded suburbs and cities is a far bigger risk than they are willing to take. These digital natives expect companies to have an online presence, to be responsive, and give them expert advice.

They are your next customer. And if you don’t meet them where they are, do you think your competition is going to be there waiting to get their business?

Learn Sales Skills Online
Unbound Sales Growth columnist Carole Mahoney has recorded three NGWA: Industry Connected videos, all of which provide great tips on how to improve your sales skills.

The videos, which are available to view for free here, cover the four principles of a sale, tips on how to better close a sale, and her latest, on how to have productive video meetings. Click here today to watch and learn how to make your business more profitable.

Are You Listed on WellOwner.org?
WellOwner.org, the National Ground Water Association’s website for homeowners with well systems, features a Find a Contractor tool, a database of water well contractors who are members of the Association. Users of the recently revamped site type in their location and are provided in seconds with a list of NGWA members near them and their complete contact information.

Become an NGWA member, get listed, and get your next sale! Click here to become an NGWA member, call NGWA Customer Service at (800) 551-7379, or email customerservice@ngwa.org.

Carole Mahoney, as the founder of Unbound Growth, has coached Harvard Business School Entrepreneurial MBA students on sales and been featured as a top sales coach by Ambition and Sales Hacker. You can contact her directly at www.unboundgrowth.com.