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24 11, 2014

The Wild West of Customer Service

By |2017-03-03T12:06:54-05:00November 24th, 2014|Categories: Blog, Blogging, Customer Experience, Customer Service|Tags: , , , , , , , |0 Comments

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trunkAlbert Einstein was the first to coin the phrase “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

The Wild, Wild West of Customer Service

We have reached a time when there is a sales revolution afoot. For hundreds of years, salespeople were expected to “hawk” their products and convince customers to buy. This conjures up a picture of salespeople heading into town with their wagons and snake oil. Since that time, we’ve given them new names: sales consultants, sales associates or relationship partners. Whatever you call them, their main job has been to sell the customers. Salespeople that don’t sell, soon become history.

Separating the Herd

One of the interesting things that differentiates the good salespeople from the bad ones is their commitment to long-term continuous development. If you are not developing your skills, you are going backwards in your career. If you’re not keeping up with the trends, you will have trouble building rapport with prospective customers.

The Internet is insisting on good communication.

Cyberspace: The Final Customer Service Frontier

The Internet has changed the role of the salesperson. The consumer’s first stop in their shopping is the Internet. According to a study in 2013 by PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, 83 percent of U.S. consumers go online to research electronics, computers, books, music, movies and more before going to a brick-and-mortar store. If your business isn’t listed, don’t get too comfortable.

Ask yourself: “Do I go online?” and “Do my friends go online?” These days, everyone is going online to purchase something. Going online gives the customer valuable information and gives her a reason to sell herself on products. Most salespeople have had experience with their customers shopping online but aren’t comfortable in collaborating with the customer or seeing the customer as their equal.

According to Google, in their book “Why ZMOT Matters More Than Ever” they state the following: “Three years ago, we changed the marketing rule book. And by ‘we,’ I mean all consumers. Our shopping behavior — the journey each of us takes on our path to purchase — helped identify a new ‘Moment of Truth’ for marketers and brands. ZMOT, or the “Zero Moment of Truth,” describes a revolution in the way consumer’ s search for information online and makes  decisions about brands.

More customers are seeking solutions online.  Instead of the salespeople being the go-to people, the Internet has taken their place. If the internet is taking the place of the salespeople, what should they do? They need to understand the changes in their role and the changes in how they connect with their customers. The biggest problem for most salespeople is their lack of skill when it comes to using the Internet and social media tools. They’re used to having customers come to them instead of having to reach out to the customers. Business owners need to provide the tools for their salespeople.

Great salespeople understand the value of staying in touch with their customers through some type of communication. The Internet has given us many new venues to stay connected. Unfortunately, many businesses are not allowing their salespeople to spend time online with customers. They say it’s a “waste of time and money.” It’s actually quite the opposite: If your salespeople are still sitting waiting for customers to show up at your door, you’re wasting time, money and talent.

Old marketing venues are less effective and starting to diminish. Newspapers are struggling as are television and magazines. What does this mean? It means salespeople need to spend more time online getting to know customers and finding new ways to connect. The key is to decide how to use these connections.

To get started, look at the venues most used by your customers and develop a strategy with your salespeople to infiltrate these venues and make them work for you.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been doing business consulting for the past 20 years. To schedule a consultation or have her speak with your employees, call her at 518-495-5380 or email at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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12 09, 2011

Want to Improve Your Sales? Give Your Business a Tune Up

By |2017-03-03T12:07:08-05:00September 12th, 2011|Categories: Blog, Sales|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

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There are more customers are out there!

I read an interesting article, “Prescription for Wholesome Sales” which I re-posted  on my ScoopIt.

The evaluation of the process or problem takes high priority on their sales examination. “Just like a medical professional, this phase takes the organization crucial symptoms to get and ideas of the well-being of the sales business.”

With any problem the most important phase is the examination process. Where am I, how did I get here and what am I doing? The more thorough the examination the better the  diagnosis and the more useful the  prescription. They talk about speaking with the salespeople, discussing their goals and how close their actual sales are to their goals. Of course there’s the “why” is it happening.

This is definitely a great place to start but it lacks one element: the customer’s input. According to statistics the average “good business” loses 10% of it’s customers yearly. How many of these businesses actually seek out these customers to find out why they’ve defected? I have asked many businesses this question and they all seem to have an answer but never a solution. Both the problem and  the solution out of their hands.

“We were too busy, we couldn’t wait on them.”

“They were just the wrong customers, they won’t pay our prices.”

“We get lots of cheap customers.”

My experience is different. After interviewing hundreds of customers I’ve found that their reasons for leaving fall into the category of “they just didn’t pay attention or they never followed up.” Simple you say? Why don’t they just make a phone call and follow up? It just doesn’t happen in many stores. Particularly if the customer has been designated as a “problem customer.” You know the kind, they just look cheap.

Sales training would make more sense if businesses would include their customers in the process. Have an outsider call 25 of your lost customers and ask, “what happened?” I know many businesses have follow up questionnaires but nothing beats the place of a phone call from someone outside your business. Once you get input from your customers, the training will make more sense.

“Where did you go and why did you leave us?” I have found that the answers are very specific and often unusual. “I asked about the bathroom and they said it was out of order.” (I wondered, was it or wasn’t it out of order? That didn’t help my problem, I still had to go!) Trust is one of the first things that must be present to sell a customer and in this case the trust went  gone out the window.

If this is your business, consider a study with some well designed questions (things you really want to know) and have a trusted person call these customers. I have found that the best way to approach the customers is to voice concern over their loss, or if not lost, concern about improving customer service.

Even if a customer hates you they will be happy to stay on the phone and complain. A well meaning customer will be happy to give you some ideas if they feel their comments matter. You can make comments matter by offering them a gift–a real one with no strings attached.  (A gift with “strings attached” is a  discount on a future purchase.)

Following up on a customer is critical if you want repeat and referral business–which turns out to be the most profitable. I purchased a domain name from GoDaddy the other day and received a phone call the next day. I was asked about my purchase and I assumed they were trying to get me to buy additional products. Instead I was asked why I left some “free” products on the table. I told them I didn’t need the blog information I already had one nor did I need another email account, free or not. Gary proceeded to ask me about my account, what was I selling etc. This turned into a very useful conversation about business and ideas that I hadn’t thought of. When I asked why he made the call he said we consider our customers our business partners and we like to do whatever we can to keep them in business! Wow, I thought, that’s what I would have told him to say. I then proceeded to write a note to GoDaddy and ask for an interview for my blog; I haven’t heard from them but they’re on my “favs” list!

So what does this mean to your business?

Call up a few customers daily and thank them, ask how the product is doing, ask about their lives.

Ask if they have any ideas about how you might deliver better service or add services.

Remember their birthdays or their kid’s birthdays. Ask how they enjoyed the summer.

Ask if there’s anything else you might do for them..and don’t forget to ask if there’s anyone they know you might help or would benefit from your expertise. Don’t be uncomfortable asking for a referral–if you did a job  you deserve it!

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