We've all had those moments as a customer when an uninterested salesperson—whether a waiter in a restaurant, retail clerk, or even a B2B salesperson—was acting like an "order-taker."

You've seen it before... The waiter stands there holding a notepad to jot down your order and doesn't even bother to tell you about today's specials. Or the retail clerk stands outside the changing room, asking you, "Does everything fit?" but doesn't make any extra effort to help you find some great outfits. The B2B salesperson asks, "Are you ready to invest in a new system?" without taking the time to even ask you any questions. All those are examples of poor customer service, poor marketing, and missed opportunities to create a better experience for the customer and a more lucrative sale.

Unfortunately, the "order-taker" mentality is still far too prevalent among many marketers.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to see whether the "order-taker" mentality might be present in your organization.

Do you assume that customers already know what they want?

I see this happen in a lot of B2B sales organizations. They assume that their customers are already well-versed in the latest technology and solutions on the market, and so marketers craft their marketing messages around the assumption that customers are at the point of being ready to make a purchase. Companies assume that they just have to offer a catalog or checklist of things to buy.

The truth is that most customers don't know exactly what they want. Or even if they have a general idea, they need additional research and support to make a better-informed decision.

Your marketing needs to go deeper to educate the customer and help uncover the customer's unspoken needs. Instead of letting the customer drive the conversation and expecting the customer to clearly tell you what he or she wants, the best marketers know how to inspire a new feeling of discovery.

The best marketers find a way to educate customers and get customers excited about what they should want, before they even know that they want it.

Are you too passive in the way that you acquire new customers?

Another sign of the "order-taker" mentality is that your company is relying too much on repeat business, word-of-mouth, and referrals. Sure, it's great to have a steady pipeline of business that doesn't require a lot of aggressive marketing—but what happens when those repeat sales dry up? Or what if your business gets bogged down with taking on too much repeat business from customers that aren't really a good fit?

If you're not regularly saying no to certain customers, if you're trying to be all things to all people, the long-term prospects of your business might suffer—even if things seem fine today. Too many marketers are letting the action come to them instead of asking hard questions about what types of customers they would rather be serving.

Don't let your existing customers dictate what type of company you become. Instead, find a way to keep reaching for the "right" customers, and don't be afraid to say no to business if it's not the right fit.

Are you reacting to prevailing trends instead of proactively shaping your future?

Many marketing teams get caught up in a "me, too" scenario where they frantically experiment with a lot of tactics but do not have a clear overall strategy.

For example, many B2B companies have wasted time on social media marketing by focusing on the wrong channels and failing to do their research upfront to find out whether their customer audience was using those social media sites.

If you're doing social media marketing (or other tactics) "just because everyone else is doing it" or if you're making a half-hearted effort at building a blog (without fully committing to it), that is a sign of the order-taker mentality.

Instead of getting caught up in the crowd, think about how you would rather be building customer relationships and generating more business. It's better to focus on just a few marketing tactics and channels, and do them all really well rather than to get spread too thin.

Decide what works best for your business, and stick to it—regardless of your industry's hot topics of the day.

Is your marketing team doing the equivalent of standing with an empty notepad and a disinterested gaze by your customer's table?

Instead of having an "order-taker" mentality, marketing teams need to keep reaching further to add value in every customer interaction.

For example, Chili's is introducing a set of tablets that let customers place orders right from their table without having to talk to anyone. But that doesn't mean that the human touch of marketing is obsolete... The best waiters know how to ask questions, build relationships with people at the table, and add value to the transaction by finding out what people are hungering for.

In the same way, your marketing needs to serve as a helpful, engaging, interested waiter. You need to add value, ask questions, build relationships, and educate your customers about their choices—not just stand there waiting to take an order.

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Is Your Marketing Plagued by the 'Order-Taker' Mentality?

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image of Al  Davidson

Al Davidson is founder of Strategic Sales & Marketing, a leader among lead generation companies, providing appointment-setters for global clients.

LinkedIn: Al Davidson