I learned the fuse theory many years ago from my friend Thierry, then a contact person at an important customer’s:
“Every manager who has run away must always have a fuse, that is to say a collaborator to whom – in case of need – the blame for what is wrong can be put. So, it’s the fuse, or the employee, who is left burned. Not the boss.”
On second thought, one of the reasons why I left my comfortable management desk was that I didn’t want to use fuse-employees, or even become one.
But then, on my own, I discovered that when you are a supplier, you become a potential fuse for your customers!
For God’s sake: if the product or service doesn’t work, it’s right that we should become a fuse.
But who hasn’t been able to do the other way around?
No customer, if he buys a product and fails to use it or uses a service from which he doesn’t get results, will ever be willing to admit that it may be his fault.
If he’s a manager, he blames the supplier just not to be electrocuted himself.
If he’s the owner, he blames the supplier to not admit the mistake with yourself.
If he’s a private individual, he blames the supplier hoping to avoid his wife’s criticisms (sorry, but here you are not even saved by the Eternal Father, nothing but a fuse…).
Is there a solution for not being a fuse that blows at the first power surge?
Or rather: let’s say that prevention can be done by channelling the expectations of the customer.
“Channeling expectations” means
- to sell our product or service ethically;
- without manipulation;
- presenting an optimistic scenario (otherwise it means that you’re selling a bad product, or that you’re a bad salesman);
- but at the same time realistic;
- in short, it’s perfectly legitimate to emphasise the strengths of the product
- but without concealing any limitations
This exercise of channelling expectations can be done for any product and service, and during any occasion of contact between you and the customer.
And it works best if you start doing it right away, already in the pre-sales phase: in a meeting in person, an email, a sales letter, etc.
If you are forced to put up stakes after the sale, it may be late.
*** Practical application ***
Let us take 1-2-3 Campaign as an example.
It’s our entry-level product to start the lead generation if you don’t know where to start, you need an immediate use tool, and you don’t have an important budget at your disposal.
The product works, and for its know-how, it’s worth much more than the current purchase price.
But we’re careful not to say that it’s The universal, perfect, complete and capital “S” solution (just think that the Lead Generation Farm™ product costs 40 times more, and it provided as a service costs from 400 times more: of course, there’s a difference…).
The “sales letter” of 1-2-3 Campaign therefore presents the benefits of the product, but at the same time has the task of correctly channelling expectations.
If after reading it you want to buy the product, you’ll be a customer with the right expectations, you’ll know what you can expect and what not, and you’ll be a satisfied customer.
Otherwise, the sales letter will still have done its job, because it will have allowed you to understand that the product is not for you, or not for you at this time.
In any case, we won’t be your fuse, and we can still be friends as before.