Marketing tip #83: You really can’t make the horse drink

You can’t make a customer buy!

Here’s an uncomfortable marketing truth:  With few exceptions, you cannot control potential buyers.

No matter how great your product, how spectacular your price or how unparalleled your customer service reputation — if they aren’t ready to buy, they just are not ready to buy.

Yes, as the old adage says — you can lead them to the water.  But once you get them there, you only have two choices.  Try to force their head into the water or entice them to hang out by the water trough until they’re actually thirsty.

And trust me, if you’ve spent any time around horses or a stubborn prospect, you know that you cannot force their head into the water.  No matter how badly you’d like to!

Sadly, to stay with the analogy — most companies don’t have any carrots or sugar cubes at the ready.   Which means their “horse” wanders away.  And by the time they’re ready to buy — probably has wandered to someone else’s watering trough.

I see so many companies that can get a prospect in the door but if they don’t buy that instant, have no way of staying in touch, creating a relationship or keeping under the prospect’s nose until it’s the right time for them to buy.

Imagine this scenario: Someone who would be the perfect sweet spot customer called today and chatted with you on the phone for 15 minutes but wasn’t ready to buy — what would you do/say to keep them connected to you until they were ready to buy?

Could you hold their interest for a month?  6 months?  3 years?

If you didn’t have an answer or don’t think you could keep them around the water trough for as long as you need — you are letting sales walk out your door.

So…now what?



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6 comments on “Marketing tip #83: You really can’t make the horse drink

  1. Yes, thanks Drew. If you let the process be a yes/no decision, you’re leaving business for someone else. We can’t know when the timing is right for anyone – capacity, dollars, culture; even when we can see how much our product/service could help the client. The timing is rarely up to us. To have a system in place to keep my service in front of the client allows me to relax, knowing that the time will be right in the future. And I can focus on other prospects/clients.

  2. Sherry Borzo says:

    This is a great post Drew. So is an example of keeping people near you for future consideration something like the branding breakfasts? Those were great. Do you or anyone else have things they do to keep people interested? Especially what types of creative ideas are people using in their businesses?


    Sherry Borzo

  3. Matthew Egan says:

    People don’t know products, products need people. It’s so important to make sure the experience and product are worth talking about. Maybe people aren’t ready to buy but, if you are reputable and worth talking about and deliver a great service or product people will return when they are ready to purchase.

  4. Karin H says:

    Hi Drew

    A post to my heart. It still amazes me every time it happens when a new client – seemingly to pop out of nowhere – has no problem to purchase from us (over the phone, online and in our showroom) only for me to find out they had been on our email sequence messages all along.

    Think you can regard a web presence as “a prospect walking through the door” and drip feeding them with further information is the carrot and sugar cube – at least for us.

    And it does not stop there, after they made a purchase we keep our names under their noses with gently reminders of what they bought needs to be maintained properly. A letter or email every 6 months about this subject works wonders (for us).

    Karin H (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  5. Joy Levin says:

    This is a great post. Marketing really is knowing what motivates your customers and makes them “drink.” Organizations need to make sure they are asking their current, prospective, and former customers this on a constant basis, because the answer can also change over time. Thanks!!

  6. John U says:

    Interesting observations and informations.
    Great job Drew.

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