Archive for the 'selling' 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

Tern On Yuor Spill Chuck Fur Krying Owt Luod

Today’s post is so simple that I hesitate to go here…but I am going none the less.  If you are in business, very few mistakes will kick your credibility in the stomach the way misspellings can.  Now I hesitate to throw the first stone here because I am by no means an expert in grammar and I have never won a spelling bee.  But I do recognize the importance of how written communication can affect the perception others have of me.  

Now to give you a little breathing room, most people you deal with are not grammar experts.  An occasional “I” instead of “me” is not going to train wreck your relationship.  But most people will recognize horribly misspelled words.  If a client is strongly considering working with you to help them invest, make a purchase, build an expensive home, defend a lawsuit, or do surgery…obviously misspelled words in your written correspondence says several bad things about you.  First, it says you may not be as smart as they want you to be.  Second, it says that you miss details and that you may miss important details on the project they are considering you for.  Third, it says that you were either too lazy or in too big of a hurry to turn on spell check.  For those of us who are phonetically challenged, spell check is a must.  And if a particular document like a resume or a bid on a large job are involved, go an extra step to have one or two other people review it for typos, grammatical errors, and an overall flow that is easy to read and understand.

The bad news is that most people are not going to tell you that you’ve lost their trust based on your inability to spell.  The good news is that if you have done this before, you are in good company and the problem is easily solved and will impact the perception others have of you immediately.

“Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.” ~ Wyatt Earp

Seize The Moment!

This week’s lesson is worth the entire price of admission!  : )  If you are looking for a competitive edge in the area of customer experience, this is it.  From day one, we are taught that in business you don’t get what you deserve; but rather what you negotiate.  You negotiate with your clients exactly what they will pay and exactly what they will get in return.  But I read something in Jack Welch’s Straight From The Gut a few years ago that I have found to be HUGE.  That is giving your client an unexpected, unrequested “extra” once the deal is done. 

An example of this is that just today, I was at an event our company is doing at a local resort.  Twenty five of my top clients were in attendance and I was there to personally welcome them.  I was looking for a way to do something extra for them; but honestly our team had done such a good job already I was struggling to find what I needed.  Then just before I left for the office, I heard that lunch was not provided and that attendees had only an hour to get lunch and get back.  This is nearly impossible in this area with a large group.  Bingo!  I headed straight for the Hotel restaurant and found the manager.  Within 15 minutes, we had arranged for 25 of our top clients to have a specially prepared lunch on the patio on a gorgeous fall Tennessee day.

The lunch was good, the convenience was very helpful; but that’s not what made these clients feel special.  It was that they got a private note from one of our staff during the event just before lunch time that I had taken care of everything.  Not only did this solve a big problem for them, but it was spontaneous and most importantly unexpected.  The clients were floored and I had made a huge deposit in our “relationship account” that said they were worth far more than any agreed upon terms of business.

Don’t miss these.  These opportunities come quickly and without notice.  If you are not watching for them, they will get away.  Keep your eyes open for spontaneous, unexpected ways to give friends, spouses, and clients more than they asked for.  The extra 2% effort will communicate trust and appreciation. 

Minor things can become moments of great revelation when encountered for the first time.  ~ Margot Fonteyn

The Palin Principle: what can we learn?

While this is not at all a political post, I couldn’t help but be impressed recently by McCain’s VP Sarah Palin.  As she was giving a speech, you couldn’t help but see how much people liked her.  People were smiling and laughing while she spoke…in other words, they connected with her in a real way.  Do you think that all of these new Palin fans really understand and agree with all of her politics?  Probably not.  Do I think those same people will vote for John McCain simply because they connected with his VP in a very personal way?  I’m sure of it.

How does that apply to being in business and providing great customer experiences?  The answer is that when people do not understand the in’s and out’s of the business or service you provide, they will decide whether or not to trust you based on two things. 

Oneis whether or not they like you personally.  If their brain and emotions tell them that you are someone that likes them, and that they like you back…trust occurs.  It’s that simple.  It’s so simple that it is even dangerous.  People will trust someone that knows very little about getting the job done if they like them.  Learn to like people, and people will like you back.  Remember their names, their kids’ names, that they make great fruit tea, etc.  Decide that this is too elementary and that your credentials should speak for themselves, and you’ll always come in second place.

Second is that when people do not understand the in’s and out’sof your business, they will judge you by the little things they do know.  How fast you return a phone call equals how much they should trust you.  How fast you send them that email you promised is how much they will trust you.  Decide that you are beyond having to provide lightening fast follow through on the small stuff…and you’ll start noticing your old customers are around the way they used to be.

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

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??


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