Why do some customers fail to buy; even when you sell the benefits?

It’s probably because some of the basic criteria, communicated by your organisation, have been overlooked.

Frederick Herzberg was an American psychologist, one of the most influential names in business management.

He is most famous for introducing ‘Job Enrichment’ and the ‘Motivator – Hygiene theory’. His 1968 publication, ‘One More Time-How Do You Motivate Employees?’ sold 1.2 million reprints and was the most requested article from the Harvard Business Review at the time.

Although his work mainly relates to employees and staff motivation, the same principals can still be successfully applied today, to customers and suppliers.

Herzberg believed that businesses had to meet a series of fundamentals in order for customers to do business with them. He called these Hygiene factors and examples might be; location, brand, size, accreditations, telephone handling, customer contact, delivery trust, turnover, track record of success, financial reserves.

Meeting these criteria, which are specific to each customer, gets you an invitation to the party. However you still have to compete to win the business, regardless of how good your product or service is.

Simply put, fail to meet these Hygiene factors, and no amount of product benefits will work to convert these prospects to customers. A good example of how a Hygiene factor influences customers, was the effect upon financial institutions when they moved towards cheaper offshore call centres; they lost customers in droves.

Have a think about organisations that you know, yet wouldn’t dream of working with. You will inevitably unearth the Hygiene factors that they are failing to meet, when you think about why you feel that way.

That’s why it’s essential when you are exploring your organisation’s ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ (USP), that you make sure possible Hygiene factors are met first. Otherwise it doesn’t matter what the benefits of your service or product are, you will never, according to Herzberg’s theory, attract customers to buy.

And that means you are wasting marketing budget and effort and letting your competitors erode your market.

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