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The Customers Aren’t the Only Ones That Have Changed

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CUSTOMERSI keep hearing the customer has changed how we cope with them. Think about it, we’re talking about ourselves.  It’s been a slow transition, so slow that we really haven’t noticed. We are so stressed out thinking about what we have to learn about our customers, we forget how we’ve changed.  If you examine your path , you won’t be so stressed  about the customers.

Let’s start with your phone. What type of phone are you using? When did you finally give up your ‘flip phone?’ Several of my friends still have a flip phone and are adamant about not changing. It makes me think, am I that stubborn? It’s hard to give up something we’re used to; if you’re still using your flip phone, you might examine what you’re missing.

Do you prefer texting to talking on the phone? I find it less intrusive, and I can reply quickly. The same people with the flip phones think that texting is ‘impersonal.’ Texting gives an additional way to get in touch, and it’s often easier. Have you asked your customers what they prefer? Let’s not assume we know, let’s ask them. If they prefer a phone call, honor it. Again, it’s not because they’re old they don’t want to give up what makes them comfortable.

Do you still have a fax machine or do you scan and email?  I had to return a document to a national company, and they asked me to fax it. I told them I got rid of my fax machine three years ago and scanning is easier. They were insistent I fax. They didn’t have a reason other than the fact: “That’s how we do it.” Are you still telling customers ‘that’s how we do it?’ Is it time for you to move forward and  make some changes?

Are people asking why you’re texting the person next to you? Often texting to someone during a meeting is a smart thing to do. It’s better than interrupting the speaker and what you have to say is essential. Isn’t it great that you can actually communicate without interrupting the rest of the world?

Are you still using the same-old  lines, can I help you? Today it’s more appropriate to ask the customer what they’ve seen online that they like. It’s a short cut to understanding how they shop. My experience is that salespeople still ask how they can help you when we know the whole world is online before going into a brick and mortar store. Help the customer cut their shopping time in half, find out what they already know.

communicationCommunication is the key to all of our transactions; nothing has changed. What has change is technology and how it is impacting our world?  The more you learn about technology the less stressed you will be.

For more on how technology is impacting all of us.

Lisbeth has been helping customers build sales and marketing strategies for over 20 years. Understanding and using today’s technology is one of the keys to success.

 

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By |2017-03-03T12:06:48-04:00March 20th, 2016|beliefs, Blog, Change, Reaching the Consumer, Success|0 Comments

11 Traits the new Salesperson Must Possess to be Successful

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Today's salesperson.

Today’s salesperson.

Over the holidays I usually work for an event company demonstrating their product. I do this because it gives me an opportunity to keep in touch with the customers. I also get to talk with them about everything, including life. It’s interesting what people will tell you about themselves and their shopping habits.

Many businesses are still behind the “electronic eight ball” when it comes to their salespeople. The salespeople and the managers are still functioning like it was the 90’s. Although no more than 10-15 years ago, the world has changed dramatically since then. There are somethings that have remained the same; the salesperson still has to build rapport, overcome objections and close the customer. How it gets done has drastically changed. Customers are influencing each other when it comes to where they shop and what they buy. The customer is either “with us or against us.”

The salesperson is now an integral part of the marketing plan. More than ever the salesperson is not just closing the customer, but need to be driving the customer into the store. Here is what’s changed and how the salesperson can become a driving force to bring customers into the store.

I believe this is the profile of the new salesperson:

  1. Web savvy and can show the customer around your web site. Also knows how to link to your Pinterest, Houzz and Instagram photos. Has also created some YouTube videos for you about products.
  2. Understands how social media works and posts updates of customers and their products.
  3. Seeks affirmations and testimonials for customers for your web site. Is not shy about asking for referrals online. Also pays attention to your online reputation.
  4. Has an up-to-date LinkedIn profile with over 500 connections. Knows how to link up with businesses to expand his/her network.
  5. Is consistent in online postings. Posts weekly if not daily about products and new jobs.
  6. Has a smart phone and is capable of taking photos and posting. Can also show customers how to post online and “like and follow” your business on Facebook.
  7. Understands the value of Houzz and how it can help bring in more customers.
  8. Knows how to put together an event at your business as well as build the invitation online. Understand how online “meetups” can help you build a customer base.
  9. Understands that “tweeting” is not just for the birds. Tweets regularly and has a following.
  10. If he/she doesn’t already have a blog, is considering one to help build a “personal” brand.

Most important can help you figure out why your IPhone won’t turn off. Every business needs people with technology skills. Let’s face it, change starts from the top; the salesperson can’t do it alone.

Thanks to “In search of sociable salespeople,”  for the photo.

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By |2017-03-03T12:06:49-04:00November 30th, 2015|Blog, Sales, Success|0 Comments

Does it Matter if Your Salespeople are Loveable?

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What makes a salesperson lovable?

What makes a salesperson lovable?

You probably know how to buy the right products and what time of the  year customers are likely to buy. You probably even run ads to drive customers into your business and think you’re good at it. But what about your salespeople? Are they lovable?

If so, why are these things happening in your business?

Sales people are complaining about prices. “We could sell more if your prices were as low as our competitors.”

They don’t really push for the sales, or call customers back. “I don’t want to turn customers off.”

“I can’t reach that quota; we don’t have enough customers.”

“Why don’t you advertise more?”

Our competitors are stealing our customers. “How can they give stuff away?”

So who is leading your crew? The only people in command are your managers.  Managers need to know what problems their salespeople face and then train them to overcome these problems or hire someone. Why do so many take the easy way out and think that product knowledge is the answer to all of their company problems?

One thing l know hasn’t changed; customers still fall in love with people not products. Despite this fact, businesses spend little on making their sales force “loveable” and confident.

Seven  to make your salespeople more ‘loveable and confident.’

The better people feel about themselves, the better they will be at their jobs. If you don’t feel good about yourself, you won’t learn and will lack in confidence. Find out what’s really bothering your salespeople and come up with the answers.

Train in areas that are causing the most problems. Not sure about overcoming objections? Train it and get your best salespeople to share their secrets.

Help them love what they do. Provide an atmosphere of support and learning. If people feel like they’re achieving, it’s likely they will love what they do.

Teach them how to use their time wisely. Some activities will bring in customers, and some things are just a waste of time. Sending notes to customers has high values, playing Candy Crush probably doesn’t.

Set a good example, or play ‘follow the leader.’ Managers need to be focused, supportive and always thinking how they can help people feel  fulfilled. Being positive and achieving goes a long way.

Encourage creativity; everyone has their own brand of creativity. Find ways to make it happen in all of your staff. There are fun games that encourage people to think differently. Once you play the game, tie the results back to their jobs.

Discuss the price of success. Success is not something that just happens. It takes years of preparation and learning.  While you’re making this happen, other things need to be put aside. Everyone will have to decide what’s most important.

Malcolm Gladwell  talks about the 10,000 hours to become an overnight success.

Being happy with you is the first step in being  lovable.

Lisbeth has been helping businesses build “lovable” relationships with their staff and their customers for over 20 years. To have her speak at your business or  develop a training program for your managers and staff–reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com. Or call/text at 518-495-5380.

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By |2017-03-03T12:06:52-04:00July 21st, 2015|Blog, Sales, Success|0 Comments

Does Motivation Have Anything to do With Success?

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HardWork_MotivationMatrix

Motivational Matrix, Dr. Jim Taylor

People talk about ‘getting motivated’ but how does that relate to their success?  I always thought that motivation was the key to success but now I’m not sure. I think the equation is much more complicated. Motivation is only a small part of being successful.  Have you ever said, “I feel really motivated to get some work done,” and then gone to take a nap?

Motivation or the desire to get things done is one of the first steps to success. The bottom line is it takes hard work to get it done. I’m not talking about the work that you do every day, i.e. going to your job,  putting gas in your car,   and cleaning the house, etc. I’m talking about what you do after that stuff is done. Success will come when you’re focusing on that special dream or goal. It could be losing weight or getting fit. They require your ability to ‘get it done’ no matter how you’re feeling.

Writing for Psychology Today, Dr. Jim Taylor defines motivation as “being able to work hard in the face of obstacles, boredom, fatigue, stress, and the desire to do other things.” Each person has a different motivation that drives them toward success. Dr. Taylor illustrates this with the motivation matrix, which breaks down motivation along two dimensions: external vs. internal and negative vs. positive. Each combination—internal-positive, external-positive, internal-negative and external-negative—can provide sufficient motivation to net you success.

The carrot or the stick?

The carrot or the stick?

Does your style of motivation work?

Will it give you the drive, planning skills and sacrifice you will need to stay the course?

Will it give you the ability to work when you’re sick?

What about turning off the Golf Channel?

Are you able to say no to a party invitation because your ‘work of success’ isn’t finished?

What will you say to your friends when the call you a ‘workaholic?’

Can you sacrifice that special brownie your girlfriend made so you can stay on your diet?

Does giving up one day mean giving up forever?

Confronting the obstacles before you get started is one way to help keep you on track. We’ve all fallen off the ‘success wagon’ but the smart ones get right back up.

 

Lisbeth has been teaching businesses how to improve their customer service and the customer experience for over 20 years. To schedule a consultation or have her speak at your business, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com. If she’s not in her office, she can often be found mornings at the YMCA in East Greenbush, New York. 

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By |2017-03-03T12:06:52-04:00June 22nd, 2015|Blog, Motivation, Success|0 Comments

4 Key Factors that Will Help Determine Your Business Success

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Business success is determined by your customer.

Business success is determined by your customer.

Do you really know what your customers think about you?

I’ve asked many business owners about their competitive advantage. They tell me they have great salespeople, installers, a beautiful showroom and super customer service. This is often in contrast to what the customers have written on line where their ratings are two out of five stars!

Why does this happen? Businesses think they’re in touch with their customers, but they really aren’t. If a customer says something unflattering about them, they usually dismiss it. “We could never please that customer, “is what they say.

If you’re not connecting with your customers, you’re doing a disservice to your business. If you don’t know what they like, how can they brag about you? Yes, you need them to brag about you. Consider that 65% of customers make decisions about where to shop and ultimately buy based on recommendations from their friends. Often the friends are social media friends they’ve never met!

Here  are four factors that you should consider:

Understand your marketplace. Are you located in the right place to attract your customer? Can you describe common traits about your customers? If you can’t, how can you attract more of them?

Know what products your customers like and buy more of them. If your customers are high end, why is your showroom stocked with so many cheap, uninteresting products? Being “all things for all people” just confuses both customers and salespeople.  Customers don’t have much time to shop so why bore them with things they don’t want?

Get the right business partners. Do you carry everyone’s products because the prices are good? Find  partners that are looking out for yor profitability  and your customers. They should also understand your marketplace and help you distinguish yourself from the competition.

Plan for the changing marketplace.  Businesses are heading down the tail end of the richest generation—the Baby Boomers. They fueled the marketplace with plenty of money and a desire for buying new things. As they age, their needs have changed. They are being replaced by a generation with different ideas about the world and seem to value “experiences” over certain things. (Electronics are one category they crave.)

You might not be able to be ahead of change, but you can certainly keep up.

Lisbeth Calandrino is a strategic thinker who has been helping businesses improve their bottom line for over 20 years. To schedule a conference or have her speak at an event, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com. She lives in Historic Hudson Park, Abany, New York with her cat Rainyday.

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By |2017-03-03T12:06:52-04:00May 19th, 2015|Blog, Marketing, Success, The Millenniums|0 Comments

An Update on What Value Means to Your Business

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What makes you different and what is it worth?

What makes you different and what is it worth?

Everyone talks about value but what does it really mean? Simply put, it means going above and beyond what is expected. For instance, giving out cookies and hot chocolate during the holidays in your business can be considered added value. Cookies add to the festivities and are unexpected by the customers. Will all customers think they are added value? Probably not the people who are on a diet or don’t eat chocolate chips. Value added is a marketing and sales strategy for your business. It helps customers remember you, build repeat and referral business and build differentiation.

Before you can deliver, you have to know your customers, and what they expect. Yes, customers want to be treated with courtesy, feel that prices are fair for the marketplace and expect your place of business to be inviting. If you can’t deliver what’s expected, how can you go above and beyond and deliver the “added value?”

Once you know who they are, then you can go forward trying to figure out what you can do that they would like.

So added value is something the customer gets and finds delightful. Imagine giving your customers a beautiful winter blanket on a beastly hot summer day. The blanket is worsted wool, with horse blanket fringe as well as being soft and warm. Delivered in the summer, it isn’t valued, in fact, becomes a problem. You might say, “I wouldn’t care when I got the blanket, it’s so magnificent. “ Despite your excitement, many of your customers would not be feeling the same. So treating the customers using your standards may not be adding any value nor getting any points from your customers.

Instead of thinking what’s of value to you, find out what’s of value to your customers. For any of this to work, it must be determined within the context of your customers.  Of course, we all have fixed budgets, but we still have to look at the customer’s criteria. I go into the gym daily. It has become an important part of my health plan. One of the things, besides all the people I know is the coffee that is served free of charge in the lobby. It makes a huge difference to me; it’s always fresh and somehow signals the end of a good workout. So it’s a big deal to me; no, it’s not rational but value isn’t rational.

I know they make a big deal about wiping down the equipment after it’s used in the gym. (They consider this huge value.) Frankly, this doesn’t really matter to me; I know the best thing I can do is go home and change my clothes. I’ve been told the gym is one of the dirtiest places in the world so I don’t think a simple wipe down will help.

In all of our lives, it’s the simple things that make our own world special.

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Want to Get Noticed? Get a Job in Target

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Whether you’re in the market to sell yourself or your business you will have to build your brand. Your brand is what makes you unique—it’s what makes you.

Mark Zuckerberg in his "hoodie."

Mark Zuckerberg in his “hoodie.”

When I mention “hoodie” who do you think of? Could it be Mark Zuckerberg? He took hoodie to another level.

Don't forget clean underwear.

Don’t forget clean underwear.

My mom used to say, “Your reputation is all you have.” In those days it means a “good” reputation. These days I’m not sure if it has to be good. You just need a reputation!

Alex from Target,  no longer unknown.

Alex from Target, no longer unknown.

Building your brand isn’t easy. There’s lots of competition and everyday there’s a new unknown who’s become famous.  Last week, Alex was a 16 year old cashier at Target, overnight he became a celebrity with 300,000 followers on Twitter. Someone snapped a photo of him, and it went viral. He says he still doesn’t ’ know what has happened but there’s the buzz that it was a PR stunt from Target. It doesn’t matter, 30 days ago he was an unknown, know he is being represented by Shahidi, who is guiding him on next steps. We now have a brand called “Alex.” Alex was wearing a red Target shirt; I don’t think it was the shirt that made him famous. It was probably his innocent good looks. Here’re some ideas for building your own brand.

No matter what you do, you need your own personal brand to be remembered. If you’re in the sales business, you need customers to remember who you are. I remember I had a salesperson that was known as “the really tall, good looking salesperson.” He was 6 feet tall and definitely good looking. It got him lots of repeat business.

Here are some ideas for building your brand.

"A ship is safe in the harbor but that's not where it belongs."

“A ship is safe in the harbor but that’s not where it belongs.”

Be bold. Take a shot, don’t be afraid to be you and stand out. Your boldness may be your clothes, your hobby or your blog. It might be your haircut. Blogs have made many people famous.

Look like yourself.

Look like yourself.

Look good. Just because you’re running to the post office doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress up. My mom used to say, “Put on your lipstick, you never know who you’re going to meet.” This was the upgrade from my grandmother who said, “Don’t forget to wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident.”

Practice random acts of kindness.

Practice random acts of kindness.

Practice “random acts of kindness.” We always remember people who are nice to others. It never hurts to be kind.

Recognize opportunities.

Recognize opportunities.

Get known for working hard and doing an excellent job. This will also make you feel good about yourself.

Have fun.

Have fun.

Be fun, don’t take everything so seriously. I was lucky enough to work with Madeline Kahn in the 50’s. We were both college students working in a hotel in the Catskills; she was a singer and I was a waitress. In the afternoons, she used to dress up as Greta Garbo; a famous vamp from the 20’s and lounged around the pool.

Madeline Kahn, "Blazing Saddles."

Madeline Kahn, “Blazing Saddles.”

One day, the owner came out and yelled at her, “His line, Madeline; you have to get serious if you’re going to be a star!”

If you’ve ever seen “Blazing Saddles” you know she was silly and became a star.

Listen up.

Listen up.

Listen to others. A good listen that isn’t critical is always remembered. You don’t have to be a social worker; you just need a kind ear.

Albert Einstein said he wasn't smart, he was curious.

Albert Einstein said he wasn’t smart, he was curious.

See yourself as entrepreneurial. Being entrepreneurial with interesting ideas will always help your brand.

Take a chance.

Take a chance.

As Dr. Seuss said, “Be who you are and way what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Lisbeth Calandrino has been a business consultant for over 20 years. To speak with her about your business or have her train your employees, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com. She lives in Historic Hudson Park with her cat, Rainyday.

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Are Communication Skills Much Ado About Nothing?

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COMMUNICATIONI have been doing sales training for over 25 years, and I am always amazed when I see a salesperson having trouble building rapport. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on the subject: “Rapport is one of the most important features or characteristics of subconscious communication. It is commonality of perspective: being ‘in sync’ with, or being ‘on the same wavelength’ as the person with whom you are talking.” In other words, rapport is when we get each other. It’s as simple as that, but it becomes complicated when we believe that everyone should think like us. Not only do we think it, we spend time trying to convince the other person of our position. If you’re spending your time convincing, it shows a lack of understanding of communication. In order to be a good salesperson, you have to give up your position of having to be right and hand it over to your customer. Remember, if you want to be right to win, that means the customer has to be wrong. In any transaction or relationship, no one wants to be wrong. According to Sravanthi Reddy G.,  selling is a two way communication relationship and involves talking and listening.

  1. Before conducting any type of sales training, I always suggest we do a standard sales training inventory: a test that will show the person how they communicate, who they communicate best with and what gets in their way.
  2. Learning about your communication style makes it easier for you to absorb new information and understand how it will help you. This is why school is so difficult for many; they can’t understand why they need the information and how it will help them. Once you do some communication testing, people will open up and want to learn. I use BEST Instruments because it’s simple and very revealing.
  3. Building rapport is the concept of connecting to your customer. Instinctively, we know how to communicate with people like ourselves. If you ask people why it works, they often say, “We just click.”
  4. You can click with anyone. Isn’t that amazing? Instead of passing on a customer because you don’t like them or just don’t get them, once you learn about yourself, you can make adjustments in your communication style.
  5. Great salespeople are in control of their communication. They know why they connect and what makes it work. On the other hand, amateurs leave it up to fate. Another great line is, “The customer just wasn’t ready to buy.” Building good rapport has little to do with the customer buying your product; it has a lot to do with whether the customer buys you!

Give a gift to your salespeople: the ability to understand their communication and sales skills. It will benefit them and your business many times over. Lisbeth Calandrino has been doing sales and customer service training for over 20 years. To book a consultation or have her speak to your group, contact her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com or 518-495-5380. Lisbeth lives in Historic Hudson Park, Albany, New York,  with her cat Rainyday.