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The Importance of Perception

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

We all have a perception of a Ferrari— sleek, fast, or stylish— yet very few of us own one, driven one, or even sat in one. Somehow through a series of both direct interactions, whether that be driving a Ferrari, or seeing one on television, and indirect interactions such as driving an old beat-up car that is nothing like a Ferrari, or not owning a car at all, we have all formed a perception of what our lives would be like if we owned a Ferrari.

Likewise, your buyers have perceptions of what it is like to do business with you. These perceptions come from a series of indirect or direct interactions. Imagine your buyer going through their “customer journey.” They are going about their business and encountering a number of interactions with you and your business:

  • You are visiting them.

  • They are going to your website and reading about your products and services.

  • They are calling you; you are calling them back.

  • Your service department makes a service call.

  • Your finance department sends an invoice.

  • They’re paying you.

Over time, interactions start to add up to create your client’s perception of you and your company. These interactions can be from peers, references, or competition— all of these influence your client’s perception of you. Moreover, your customers are constantly comparing you and your business to your competition. You have to be noticeably better than your competitors in your client’s perception.

Unfortunately, you cannot control your client’s perception; perceptions are formed relative to the customer’s assessment of sometimes seemingly unrelated things. Your buyer gets to choose who they want to compare you to.

Say you took your new Lexus back to the dealer last month for its first routine oil change. Now, those Lexus people treated you like royalty; they even offered you a loaner for the day for a 30-minute oil change if you did not want to wait. But, you decide to stick around and sit in the waiting room. The waiting area was clean, had leather sofas, and complimentary croissants and coffee. When your car was returned to you, you saw that the mechanics had laid paper mats on the floorboards to keep them clean and they put a wrap on your steering wheel so their greasy hands would not mess it up. What a terrific experience for a $29 oil change!

A few days later, you stay at a Marriott hotel for $400 a night. The next morning, you walked downstairs and discovered that they charge eight dollars for a cup of coffee. What a different experience in comparison to your $29 oil change in comparison to your hotel room.

Your perception of Marriott’s value may drastically decrease because of an experience with Lexus, despite it being an unrelated industry. Marriott may think that comparison is unfair, but you do not have to compare Marriott to a hotel— you, as a customer, are always subconsciously comparing experiences, regardless of industry.

That is how it is with your customer’s perception of how much sales equity you have earned. It may not seem “fair” and may even be deemed nonsensical, but it is real nonetheless. Fortunately, once you understand how the number and quality of your interactions (relative to your customer’s experience with the outside world), can help you earn sales equity and manage their perceptions.

Stay tuned for next week’s article! For now, give us a follow at “Encompass-CX” on Linkedin for more articles and updates.

Co-written by Alexis Audeh

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