Posts

7 Steps to Complete Client Delight

Guest Post by Kim Fredrich, Sales for Non-Salespeople

Clients purchase from you with the expectation that you’ll deliver what you’ve promised.

Sounds like a solid way to run a business.

What happens when you delight your customer?

When you:

  • Really, truly listen to your client’s needs
  • Make it easy to buy from you
  • Exceed expectations throughout the engagement
  • Make any wrongs right
  • Anticipate client needs before they are articulated?

There are some of us old enough to remember when service providers dictated how service was provided. When we worked our schedule around the convenience of the service provider or we expected to remain on hold for hours just to get a resolution to a problem.

In our highly competitive, social media driven world, this is no longer acceptable. And frankly, that’s a good thing! Now, any company that doesn’t at least meet expectations won’t survive long.

So how does a company thrive and grow?

By always making it about the client.

Really, truly serving the client.

Isn’t that customer service? What does this have to do with sales? And me?

Every encounter clients and potential clients have with your organization is part of your sales effort. We’re all in sales.

So let’s get selling, I mean serving!

How to Delight your Clients

  1. Consider how YOU would like to be treated.

  2. Take yourself on a client journey – begin with a visit to your website, make contact with your organization, engage your company and experience your service first-hand.

  3. Ask clients for feedback consistently and regularly. Apply what you’ve learned.

  4. Listen and validate.

  5. Empower team members to seek out and deliver extra value to individual clients. Help your clients wherever possible.

  6. Empower team members to right any wrongs.

  7. Actively seek ways to delight clients throughout their customer journey.

Think like a small business owner.

Does the shopkeeper close the door to a customer who wants to make a purchase at closing time? No, he stays open. And the client rewards him with this sale, future sales and word of mouth advertising. Reciprocity and appreciation are worth many times more than the original sale.

The fast track to spectacular growth is an entire organization 100% focused on exceeding client expectations. Yes, it may cost a little more initially, but that sacrifice for short term profit is worth it in the long term.

When you actively create customer advocates acquisition costs plummet and profit rises.

Remember, service is sales and sales is service.

The continuum of sales and service is becoming increasingly circular – those who embrace it will succeed. Those who don’t will fail.

Want to Boost Sales? Do Less “Selling”

Guest Post By Colin Spence, Outsourced Sales VP, Sales Xceleration.

One of the common complaints owners of businesses often have about dealing with salespeople is that they are, well, “too salesy.” By that they mean that salespeople are often too pushy, too persistent, too determined to make a sale regardless of whether that sale is actually a solution their business needs.

It follows, then, that if this approach is seen as a problem and annoyance, it’s time for a fresh approach. It’s time for salespeople to stop pitching and pestering and start listening and problem solving.

Here’s why that matters and how to boost sales with less selling.

Your Customers Have Different Needs

The first step in freeing yourself from outdated sales methods is to understand a fundamental shift that has occurred over the last decade or more: Your prospects and customers are better informed today than ever. They know what their competitors are doing, how markets are performing and, of course, what many of their internal challenges are.

What they need from you, more than ever, are solutions within the context of those factors. They need you to help them stay competitive, increase market share, and/or improve their company operations.

They don’t need you to doggedly try to sell them your products or services simply to make a sale. Think of it this way: a sale might seem like a win to you, but if what you sell your customer doesn’t solve a problem or fill a need, it is only a complication and an expense to them.

Ditch the Pitch

Understanding the new customer mindset should help you redirect your own. Rather than the old school idea of relentlessly delivering your standard sales pitch, start a conversation.

Do you like it when a salesperson is pitching hard, not listening to you and only serving their own interests? I bet the answer is “no.” Why would your potential customers like it any better than you do?

See yourself and the prospect as equals, getting to know one another and beginning a dialogue of discovery. This approach is much less intimidating and stressful than the typical always-be-closing pursuit that leaves the prospect feeling like prey in your cross-hairs.

Remember the New Goal

The real objective of your pitch-free conversation – or series of conversations over time – should be to discover whether you and the prospect are a good fit. Whether it makes sense to continue to discuss their needs and your potential solutions. That’s it.

How do you reach that awareness? Ask questions – it is hard to learn whether you are a good fit when you do all the talking. Don’t badger, but listen attentively and ask the kinds of questions that will help you uncover the root of their “pain.” Only by discovering this can you truly know whether your product or service is a solution they need.

Simply put, listen first and propose a solution later. Even then, only offer a solution if you truly have a solution to their problem. If not, say so. It’s perfectly fine (admirable, even) to say, “From what I’ve learned during our time together, it appears the solutions we offer aren’t the best fit for your needs at this time.”

You can always point the prospect toward another reputable solution provider – even a competitor. Chances are the prospect will appreciate your unselfishness, come back to you if their needs change, and perhaps refer you to more fitting prospects.

Even if the sales process and related communications with the prospect end there, you’ll save everyone much time and trouble and stress. It probably won’t even feel like a rejection or a lost opportunity because it was really a successful discovery that it just wasn’t a good fit.

Bottom Line

Making sales today requires a different approach. Today, boosting sales is more likely a direct result of conversations and relationship building and problem solving rather than relentless pursuit and pushing.

About the Author

Colin Spence is an accomplished and passionate Sales Executive with over 25 years of experience leading both national and global sales teams.  Colin believes that sales is a science that requires both process and discipline.  Colin formed Mid-Atlantic Sales Mechanics LLC to help small and medium-sized enterprises get to the next level by implementing and improving sales management and culture.  As an outsourced DC-Metro area sales consultant and licensed Sales Xceleration Advisor, Colin utilizes the power of Sales Xceleration’s proven sales growth and sales management systems to increase sales and boost profits for sustainable sales performance.  Colin is the mechanic who can fix your sales engine. http://midatlanticsalesmechanics.com

The Secret to Business Success Lies with Your Customer Facing Employees

Guest Post By Kim Fredrich

We hear a lot about how the customer is King. And how in the age of social media, we as consumers, have all the power. And yet, Comcast has the ability to completely upend our lives (because access to the Internet is essential to life, right?) simply by making us navigate their maddening telephone system and waiting around for our designated ‘service window’. The Comcast guy has become THE guy to hate, even with his own category of internet memes. What’s that doing to Comcast’s sales?

Poor Service Leads to Missed Sales Opportunities

We might not all have a great deal of choice in our internet provider, but it is still a competitive marketplace for most of us. Just think of the revenue Comcast is missing by not considering their entire operation a sales operation – one where the customer’s satisfaction (that would be service) with every interaction is the number one priority.

The same goes for tradespeople. While they may be outstanding at their trade, more often than not that expertise isn’t matched with excellent communication skills and superior attention to client needs. Sure, there will always be exceptions, but for the most part, these inherently customer facing service providers don’t excel at customer service.

When you call a service provider for a quote you are probably not looking just for pricing, but information about what might be required to address your issue too. You don’t have expert knowledge (um, that’s why you’re calling), and you genuinely need help. If you actually manage to get someone to quote a job, how many ask you additional questions that might result in additional business for their company? And how many actually follow up after presenting a proposal? It almost seems like they don’t want your business.

All these people are leaving money on the table. Because funnily enough, when you put customer service ahead of everything else, your marketing takes care of itself, your sales become simple, and your revenues rise.

Every Employee is a Salesperson

Now what happens when you provide exceptional service AND train your staff in basic sales skills? Everyone who interacts with a prospect has a sales role. It may not be direct selling as in, “are you ready to sign a contract?”, but a scheduler who begins to build rapport with an incoming caller, then asks some key questions to establish the nature of the problem is having a sales conversation, all while providing service above and beyond expectations. As is the internet repairman who comes to the home and engages with the client in a conversation while returning the IT system to normal function. Virtually every interaction with a customer is selling the company in some way, even if no direct sales of the product or service are occurring.

The Customer Service vs. Sales Debate

This excellent article by Gregory Ciotti at HelpScout lists 15 customer service skills that every employee needs:

  • patience
  • attentiveness
  • product knowledge
  • ability to ‘read’ customers
  • ability to handle surprises
  • persuasion skills
  • tenacity
  • closing ability

Except these aren’t customer service skills, but sales skills. The two are so intertwined as to become almost indistinguishable from each other.

Outstanding customer service is just good business. Ask anyone who’s built a family run business – the kind where clients are known by their first names and the ‘boss’ plays a direct role in client interaction.

So what does that mean if you’re a manager or a business owner? It means every single employee who interacts with customers should receive sales training. Not that company’s 10 step method, or this company’s proven techniques, but the basics. Building rapport, listening, asking questions, problem solving, and follow up, follow up, follow up. Because they’re all selling. And guess what? You’ll generate a whole lot more referrals this way too. Bam! Service, marketing and sales in one fell swoop.

Find more sales tips in ‘Substance & Style’ by Kim Fredrich

About Kim Fredrich

Kim helps customer facing ‘non-sales’ staff get comfortable with sales and realize the importance of their role in business success. Her one-on-one sales coaching, consultancy and workshops focus on building relationships and having conversations with purpose. She has recently presented at The Power Conference, NAWBO, the Freelance Union and the Women in Business Leadership Council. She has also conducted workshops for Howard University’s In3 Incubator, Hera Hub and the Maryland Women’s Business Center.

Kim began selling with her first job in food services, branched into marketing, and came back to sales because it was a bigger challenge and much more interesting. She has trained with some of the most respected business brand names over her career, achieving a training commendation from Xerox. Over the past 20 years she’s delivered sales and marketing services to select clients across the globe, in B2C, B2B and nonprofit industries.