Archive for the 'sales leads & referrals' Category

Simple & Easy

Did you know that your own customers may leave you without telling just because doing business is even a little bit harder than your competition?  Confession is good for the soul, so let’s use me as an example.  Every customer has their priorities…price, friendliness of business, how important you make them feel, etc.  My top two are friendliness of the employees and convenience.  Make the gas pump ask me to punch fewer buttons to get gas and I’m there!  Let me buy from your store without up selling me at the counter or requiring my phone number and zip code at the register and I’m yours.  🙂  Make the line move a little faster, make the online buying process just a touch simpler to figure out, or make your parking lot easier to access from the street and I will pay your price, really! 

I’m a big fan of Publix.  They are always super friendly to my family and they never let me wait in line.  They are quick to open a new register just to get me out a little faster…my kind of people!  But then look at the Sam’s Club biz model:  I have to pay to join, have to have my card to get in the store, have to get my card back out to pay at the register, and then have to show my receipt to the guy at the exit to get out.  I’m not slamming Sam’s…they go for people who like to buy in bulk and save on price; but it’s too complicated for me.  Another example is the gas pump…many of them cut me off at $75 of gas…why is that?  And if you get a pump that pumps slowly, it really can double the time it takes to fill up.

Enough whining, right?  The good news is that you don’t always have to give up profits in order to make things just the slightest bit easier.  Check out this article about how Amazon added an extra $300,000,000 in sales just by making the online buying process a little easier.  Ask a friend to be a new customer for you and to walk through your process with “new eyes”.  What things could you change just to make your product or service just 5% easier to use?  You’ll be amazed at the results!

 

It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”  ~ Muhammad Ali

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Be A Sure Thing

sure-thing_drHave you ever had an old car that was there for you most of the time; but from time to time it just wouldn’t cooperate and do the one thing you bought it for (drive)?  Then you know the feeling you get when you are running a couple minutes late and you jump in your beloved old car…it’s sort of an anxious feeling as you pray aloud “…just start…just start…START!”

While it doesn’t let you down often, the fact that it MIGHT let you down is enough to keep you from trusting that it will be there to do the job when you need it most, right?  Did you you know that business relationships work the exact same way?  Businesses that don’t deliver what they promise every single time are businesses that never allow their customers to trust that they’ll be there when they need them most.  And that lack of trust will keep you from experiencing the real success you are in business to achieve. 

The good news is that if you drive a stake in the ground and declare that no matter what, you will deliver what you promise every single time and especially when circumstances beyond your control get in your way…you will put yourself in the small group of businesses that people can’t help but refer to their friends.

  • Be the lawn company that doesn’t let rain throw you off schedule.  Let customers plan the party without worrying if the mowers will show up on the scheduled day to make the yard look nice.  [If it’s a monsoon that literally prevents you from cutting, have a plan in place to catch customers up the next day.]
  • Be the dry cleaner that has customer’s shirts pressed even when your hired help doesn’t show up for work.
  • Be CPA that gets the tax returns done on time even when you’ve over promised.
  • Be the sales leader that the owner turns to when he needs a job done right and done today.

Being a sure thing means you can charge higher prices, that you will have people on a waiting list to become your customer and that you can invest your old marketing budget into business tools that make your work easier.

“If you think you are too big for a little job, you are probably too little to be trusted with a big job.”  ~ unknown

A New Standard Of Service

146A friend of mine recently asked me if I could refer a good attorney.  I have one that I have used with no real problems, and yet I hesitated to share the referral.  Referring someone is a very personal endorsement and your quality of referrals says a lot about you.  I had to ask myself why I chose not to send my friend to this attorney. 

The reason is not that he has done anything extraordinarily bad.  Sure he has been hard to get in touch with recently and hasn’t returned a few emails, but nothing unusual.  The reason is in fact that I have recently had such great experiences with some other professionals that it has sort of set a new standard of who I want to work with on a regular basis. 

For example, a call returned within 24 hours is absolutely good customer service for busy people.  In fact, most customers will not complain if they get a call back within the week.  And yet my financial advisor returns my call within an hour.  He returns emails within minutes. 

Another example is the idea of who the expert is.  Old school business says that it is normal for your doctor to tell you what’s wrong in a language you don’t quite understand, and then tells you what to do about it and you do it.  But wouldn’t you rather see a doctor that explains things in a way you understand well enough to re-explain it to your spouse, gives you several options along with his or her suggestion of which will fit your health needs best?  And what would you do if your doctor saw you within ten minutes of your appointment time and wasn’t in a hurry when he or she met with you?

Once you have had excellent experiences with other professionals, it’s just hard to go back and settle  for less.  I want to challenge you today to set the new standard of service in your line of work.  Be the one that people just can’t wait to tell their friends about.  Ask yourself how you can manage your time in a way that allows you to meet or exceed every time commitment you make.  I am watching business people with less experience steal market share from the old guard on a daily basis just by being willing to set a new standard in their line of work consistently.  Providing excellence in the ordinary is quite possibly the best and most affordable marketing tool you have & the good news is that you have the power to raise your own bar starting now.

Take Away:  Get creative about the little things you can do to communicate to your clients their importance to you.  Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself what it would take to make them tell their friends about how “over the top” you are.

Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right.  ~ Charles Hadden Spurgeon

Intention vs. Execution

One of the things I love to do is to understand different types of people.  I love to look for patterns in people and learn how they think, how they make decisions, and to try and find similarities in extremely successful people. 

In studying people, I have learned that most people have very good intentions…really.  Most people intend to do good things.  They intend to get things done, to pray for you when they say they will, to read more, to improve themselves, to lose that 10 lbs, get out of debt, and so on.  Good intention might be defined as the process of having a sincere desire to do something we know needs to get done.  Let’s say that at least 90% of people have these kinds of thoughts.

Executing might be defined as the ability to formulate a plan to get a thing done and then following through with the plan until the thing is fully done.  This is where the pack starts to thin out.  Few people are really good at this part of the equation.  How many people do you know today that when they say to you, “…that sounds great.  I’ll call you this week to confirm.” that there is a slim chance they will actually follow up.  It’s widely accepted that things just fall through the cracks sometimes.  We are all busy right?  Wrong.

I suggest to you today that the gap between intention and execution is the exact same gap between your dreams and success.  The smaller the gap, the larger your success.  People who drop the ball with little things will drop the ball with big things.  Successful people don’t drop balls…period.  Some have assistants that help them, some have systems in place that work for them, but one way or another they do the things they commit to do or they simply don’t commit. 

If you are in business, I especially want to challenge you today to eliminate the gap between your intentions and the execution of every single thing you say you will do.  No more casual commitments.  If you can’t do it, say no instead of casually committing.  Your reputation depends on it.  Your success depends on it. 

“Repeat anything often enough and it will start to become you.”  ~ Winston Churchill

“99% of failures come from the people who have the habit of making excuses.”  ~ George Washington Carver

Why Sell Ice To Eskimos? sales negotiation

Why sell ice to Eskimos when you can sell life jackets to drowning men?                                                                  

 So why would anyone boast of being able to sell ice to an Eskimo?  The Eskimo clearly doesn’t have a need for ice.  He will certainly experience buyer’s remorse when reality sets in.  And in addition to losing his future business, you’ll probably annoy the Eskimo.

A sale, in addition to the rest of life, is a negotiation.  We may not naturally assume this or even enjoy negotiation.  If, however, you are in any form of sales this is reality.  Due largely in part to my natural awkwardness when it comes to negotiation, I have been studying this subject for years.  Selling is negotiating.

In addition to many aspects of negotiation, I have a special interest in the area of sales negotiation.  I have learned one specific concept that has so influenced my life that I just knew that I wanted to share it with you.

 Instead of the Eskimo thing, wouldn’t you rather be in the position of selling life jackets to drowning men?  Don’t feel bad; you are not the cause of their situation.  You are the solution.  They need life jackets.  Wouldn’t you agree that the worst life jacket sales person in the country could close this deal?  Price will likely not be an issue.  And the drowning man will almost certainly feel good about the purchase for years to come… 

            So Jack, you ask, what is the point?  The point is that this sales person, or negotiator, has a tremendous POSITION OF STRENGTH.  He has walk away power while the drowning man does not.  POSITION OF STRENGTH could be defined as anything that you do to increase your opportunities and alternatives to a given situation.  In your career, this may include finishing that college degree, reading everything that you can get your hands on about your area of expertise, and even getting out of debt.  These types of things make you more valuable while making the sale less urgent.  Assume your job is lost today.  You are negotiating your compensation with a potential employer.  Wouldn’t you agree that having $25K in an emergency fund and no debt would take the immediacy away and you would certainly negotiate a better deal?  And what about your current employer?  If you are constantly investing in yourself by creating relationships and becoming indispensable, would a raise or promotion not be much more comfortable to discuss?

            In sales, if you are selling the right product (life jackets) to the right group of people (drowning men), you have a powerful POSITION OF STRENGTH.  You are now in control.  If you cannot afford to walk away from the sale, you have already lost the deal.

            This principle will translate into every area of your life.  If you are always working to increase your POSITION OF STRENGTH, you will be a better negotiator.  While the other guys are looking for the overnight method to greatness, you are investing long term into something that follows you and continues to build.  Don’t worry about the Eskimos.  Be ready for the drowning men because they are on the way…will you be ready??

First phone call gets the biz

In sales?  Like leads?  My business is connecting seriously interested consumers with seriously committed business people.  Sales people today are spending an unheard of amount of time, energy and money to generate referrals or leads.  But would you be shocked if I told you that a majority of small biz people today spend the time and money to make their phones ring & never return the calls?  It’s true. 

I was recently at a real estate confernece and the speaker said that nearly 75% of all the referrals sent to real estate agents never get opened

Even with our own referral program, even after we interview, screen and find the very best people in the business who commit to serve our referrals, the most difficult challenge is getting them to simply call the referral quickly.  Now because we are so hard on quick call backs, we now have a group that carry blackberries and call the referrals back often within 15 minutes, often while they are still at their computer (talk about a good first impression); but getting biz people to understand the importance of an almost instant response to an online referral is still an uphill battle. 

The great news is this:  If you will do this one thing ten times better, you will win.  You can have an average website, an ordinary name for your business, and speak highly of your own competition…and if you will find a way to have someone from your office call back every missed call or email within 5 minutes, you will win the customer every time. 

What we have learned is that when your customer does not understand the technical in’s and outs of the thing they are calling you to do for them, whether it be investing, taxes, insurance, real estate, car repair, etc., they will use something they do understand to determine whether or not to trust you.  An instant call back = trust.  A slow call back or no call back = no trust.  And once trust is lost, it’s lost. 

The only call back that’s more important than a first impression call back is a complaint or concern call back.  When an existing customer calls you worried because the stock market is dipping or because their car is making a funny sound…don’t miss this…everything is on the line.  A quick and sincere call back makes 95% of their worry vanish because they were afraid you would disapear once you had their money.  A slow or non call back confirms their worst fear that you were only interested in their money.

If you’ll do this one thing 10x better, your customers will not be able to wait to tell their friends that they’ve finally found someone they can trust.  It is the most important single thing you can do to win or lose your customers and clients.

“The person who knows “how” will always have a job.  The person who knows “why” will always be his boss.”  – Diane Ravitch


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