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Sales Confidence

Adjust Your Attitude

A customer service reality check can boost your sales by putting your customer first.

Charles Green

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I bet you’ve said this before: “If it weren’t for the customer, this would be a great business.” I have. We say it as a little joke, an eye-rolling one-liner when we have ‘one of those’ customer moments.

Jokes are funny only because they’re partly true. And where there’s the smoke of truth, there’s often fire. This sort of attitude may be a signal that your business is missing opportunities to better serve your customers. Here’s a look at the folly behind this flawed mind-set and how to stop it in its tracks.

Companies do a lot of things for their own convenience — not the customer’s. Step into the customer’s shoes, and imagine how you’d feel in these scenarios:

  • It’s two minutes before closing. You sprint to the store, only to have the person inside shrug, point at the clock and continue locking the store door.
  • You dial the company’s number and get a brusque “hello” from someone you’ve clearly interrupted in the middle of a far more compelling activity and who’s annoyed by the interruption.
  • You say, “I’m not sure, just looking around,” and the salesperson visibly loses interest in you.
  • I could go on: the phone pitch aimed at qualifying you in or out, the clerk who mumbles “thanks for shopping at XYZ” while chatting on the phone.

A Holistic Problem

You might be thinking, “That’s retail or consulting. I know better. I really don’t do that sort of thing.” Let’s keep going. Do you ever:

  • Screen out low-quality leads for the sake of efficiency? What that says is, “If I can’t get in your wallet in X seconds, then you’re not worth my time.”
  • Say: “We don‘t do that here,” and just leave it at that? Not only is that insulting to the customer, it translates as “You should’ve looked this up before wasting my time.” But it assumes you know every possible variation of the customer’s situation.
  • Find yourself with a chatty customer and think: “Is this guy going to make up his mind sometime this year?” The customer hears what you’re thinking — it shows up in your rolled eyes, your fake smile, your heaving sighs.
  • Tell customers: “Please give us two days’ notice,” when an hour would do?
  • Say to yourself: “Well, if that’s what he wanted, why didn’t he say so in the first place?”
  • Say to yourself: “Why do I seem to get all the stupid clients?” If you’re getting all the stupid clients, take a look in the mirror. Either you really do attract stupid people, or your definition of ‘stupid’ is faulty.
  • Say to yourself after a customer changes his or her mind: “Just make a decision, already.”
  • All of these are opportunities to say: “This would be a great business if it weren’t for the customers.”

Change Your Point of View

It‘s easy to see what‘s going wrong here. We construct comfortable worlds for ourselves. When a customer upsets our idea of the way things should be, we don‘t like it. And it leads to resentment. But if we can see the situation from the customer‘s point of view, we can generate empathy that could lead to a better business outcome.

Here are three ways to help you thwart the “if it weren’t for the customer” blues. Next time you encounter a troublesome customer, remind yourself:

1. “I wonder what she’s thinking.”

The next time a customer does something you consider odd, ask yourself, “I wonder what she‘s thinking?” Resist the urge to blame, and banish the eye roll. Replace these with simple curiosity. If you can figure out what’s behind her behaviour, you’ll not only know how to react, you’ll empathise. And she’ll appreciate it.

2. “It’s not about me.”

When customers are angry at you — furrowed brow, disapproving tone, maybe even yelling — remember that what you’re hearing isn’t people who are angry at you, but people who are angry while standing in close proximity to you. In other words, it isn’t about you. It’s about them. You’re just picking up the flack by being in the neighbourhood. If you don’t take it personally, then you can empathise with them, and help them get what they want.

3. “There are few degrees of separation.”

You’ve heard the theory of six degrees of separation, the number of links separating you from Donald Trump and every other stranger in the world. These days, that number feels far smaller. That annoying customer may be likely to know someone you know. Word gets around exponentially faster nowadays. Treat this customer like you’d treat a friend. Odds are good that you will not be far off.

Adopt these tactics, and your customers can help your business to be great.

Charles Green has spoken to, consulted for or done seminars about trusted relationships in business for a wide and global range of industries and functions.

Sales Confidence

How to Get Clients When You Hate Asking for Business

Three ways to trade cold calling for warm leads.

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Whether you’re starting a business or growing an existing one, you need clients. If you don’t like selling and don’t have a strong referral network, getting clients is a big challenge. I’ve helped scores of entrepreneurs who hate selling grow their business, and in my experience, one of the biggest hurdles is how you feel about selling itself.

If you judge selling as manipulative, you probably try to avoid it, and if you can sell in a way that aligns with your values and your personality, getting clients gets easier.

One of the best ways to do this is to start with warm leads instead of cold calls. This means approching people you know or feel comfortable with.

Here are three key ways to generate warm leads:

1. Contact database

By putting your contacts into a spreadsheet, you’ll find lots of great people you’ve forgotten about.

Download your list of names into Excel with data fields for first and last name, then add two new columns. Call the first column “lead status” and the second one “lead type.” In the status column, mark “warm” or “cold.”

Warm contacts on this list are the people you wouldn’t hesitate to call because you know you’d receive a warm welcome. Cold contacts are everyone else.

In the “type” column, decide whether each person is likely to be a potential client, referral source, mentor or something else. Knowing why you will contact each person in advance makes reaching out easier and desired results more likely.

Once you’ve got the columns populated, filter for the warm leads and reach out to all of them. Target a specific number of calls per day for maximum payoff. You may have to use Google or other research to get phone numbers. If you can’t get a number, then use email as a last resort. Be ready to call or email several times to get a response.

If you want to generate new warm leads, networking is an excellent place to start. Instead of looking only for ideal clients, consider the fact that anyone can be a mutual referral source.

If you’ve exhausted everyone in your network, try someone new you have a lot in common with. You’ll be more likely to grab a cup of coffee with someone who shares your love of hiking and traveling, and that conversation may lead you to your next client. We’re more likely to hire and refer people we know, like and trust, but the foundation of that relationship is often common interests, not a potential to become business partners.

Before you get too far with these strategies, make sure you set up a customer relationship management (CRM) database. This will keep you organized so you remember who you need to call back and know which Cathy was the potential client and which one recommended the great sushi spot.

I recommend an online tool like Less Annoying CRM, Insightly or Highrise HQ if you have a small budget. Excel is great for filtering, but it doesn’t email or text you reminders to follow up, which is crucial for acquiring new business. If you’re not on top of it, you’re wasting your time and throwing out potential revenue. Make sure to keep up-to-date notes about activity, actions you’ve promised and when you need to reach out again.

Related: Exactly How Involved Should You Be In Your Business’s Sales?

2. Referrals

Referrals are an excellent warm lead resource. The problem is, when you wait for referrals, they aren’t reliable or plentiful enough to keep your business going. You need to create multiple referral sources and nurture them.

To do this, make a list of your power partners. These are other businesses that serve your target market in a non-competitive way. Let’s say you’re a wedding photographer. Your power partners include makeup artists, florists and DJs. The magic of these partners is that you can all refer each other so it’s a two-way street rather than beneficial to only one of you. If you get a large list of power partners and are in regular contact with them, your referral numbers will increase and become more reliable.

Once you know your power partners, you can look for them at networking events, and you can ask your existing contacts if they can connect you to others. If you’re introduced to an ideal referral source through a mutual friend or contact, you’re both more likely to make the effort to help each other.

Related: 3 Insanely Easy Ways To Double Your Sales

3. Speaking

Another great way to get clients and warm leads is speaking. The key to getting clients through speaking is inviting the audience to work with you during your presentation. If you find this step as cringe-worthy as cold calling, here are a few tips:

  1. Determine your core values and desired audience perception. One of my clients values professionalism, integrity and service. With this understanding, we brainstormed how she could invite members of the audience to work with her in a way that made her feel aligned with her core values.
  2. Talk to “your people.” During your presentation, you’ll notice a few people are more engaged than the rest of the room. You’ll know they love what you’re saying by their smiles, head nods and questions. When you make your pitch, have those people in mind. If you make more eye contact with them during the pitch, you’ll feel more comfortable. They’re the people who want to speak with you further, so make them feel invited to do so.
  3. Attend other speaking events. Listen to how other speakers make a pitch. Write down what you like about their methods and what turns you off. Figure out how to integrate the aspects you like into your own pitch.

If all else fails, make sure you have a way to collect names, phone numbers and email addresses at your events. This will give you a collection of warm leads. Enter them into your CRM system and then call them to follow up.

If you start using even one of these strategies, you’ll find yourself with more leads and more confidence. Confidence, in the end, is what makes selling easier.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Sales Confidence

6 Sales Secrets To Turn A Rookie Into A Sales Superstar

Here’s a tip: You’re a consultant, not a salesperson. So, figure out what you’re really selling.

Toby Nwazor

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I once worked as a salesman in an insurance company. And, like most salespeople, I couldn’t meet my targets in the beginning. I noticed however, that certain people in my organisation made more sales than all of us put together. So, I got close to some of them and tried to learn their secrets.

Luckily, they were kind enough to let me in. And they taught me that selling is a skill that can be developed, not a special gift one is born with. After following them, I found that my selling improved drastically, and almost immediately. My sales were huge.

Related: The Personalities You Should Engage To Be Better At Sales

So I now believe that like me, anybody can learn the art of selling. But it begins by learning the following secrets:

1Make continuous learning your personal mission

I remember catching a ride with one of my sales managers one day. I was surprised that throughout our ride, he never played music, as I would have done were I the one driving. Instead, he plugged in an mp3 and played a particular talk. It was a huge lesson and I followed suit immediately.

To be a sales superstar, you need to learn every day. The future of “selling” belongs to those with an unquenchable thirst for learning, not just for those who work hard.

Make learning a top priority. Invest in books, seminars and audio talks related to sales, and watch your sales skyrocket.

2Overcome your fear of rejection

This fear is the greatest obstacle you must overcome if you intend to have a successful sales career. Like most newbie sales agents, I found it affected my selling, too.

Luckily, my supervisor became concerned and taught me that selling was basically a game of numbers. In other words, the more I met people, the more likely I would be to make a sale.

That new knowledge fired me up. I started getting new prospects, and when they were not interested in my product, I simply said, “Next!”

To be honest, we are all afraid of something at one point or another. But, to borrow a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “If you would be a great success, make a habit throughout your life of doing the things you fear.”

3Keep your sales funnel full

sales-contracts

All sales superstars at any time have more than enough prospects to work on. To get better results in your sales, make sure you don’t lack prospects. If you must, hire someone to help you generate leads.

Most important, make sure you always get referrals after closing each sale. Lead-generation tools like Bant.io and Hubspot are becoming part of more and more companies that desire to streamline their sales, to save some time.

Related: 7 Simple Ways To Close More Sales

4Make your enthusiasm Infectious

Imagine that a salesman knocks on your door looking tired and worn out. Gazing at you, his eyes filled with disappointment, he pitches you in a whisper.

“My organisation can help you plan your event,” he says. “But then, you don’t really need that, do you? I mean, everybody plans their events these days, except celebrities. You don’t happen to know any celebrity around, do you?”

It will be a cold day in hell before such a salesperson makes a sale. According to Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and one of the nation’s richest salespersons, rightly said:

“One of the huge mistakes people make is that they try to force an interest on themselves. You don’t choose your passions; your passions choose you.”

5Present yourself as a consultant, not a salesperson

When I started my consumer goods business, I asked myself what I was selling. I had groceries for sale in my mart, but when I introduced “Home and office delivery services,” I realised that what I was really selling was stress alleviation, and a good time-saving option.

Once I understood this, I revised how I approached my targets, who were mainly busy professionals. When I met them, I didn’t just start selling my products. Instead, I tried to understand the level of stress their jobs placed on them. I then recommended my grocery home delivery service as a way of helping them reduce stress.

In the same way, you should present yourself as a consultant. Don’t leave anything to chance. Prepare for every sales meeting or call. Dress the part too, and look important. And just as my manager advised me back then, I’d say, take a short-term loan if you have to. Buy better clothes; you could even buy a car with a little down payment. Just make sure you present prospects with the image of a successful consultant.

6Close the sale

Many salespeople don’t ask for the sale. They assume that after their sales pitch, clients will take the initiative to pay. In most cases, however, they postpone it.

Related: How To Hit Your Sales Targets

My sales manager always drummed into my ears the words, “Toby, you will always lose 100 percent of the sales you don’t ask for.”

So, don’t make assumptions. Learn all you can about closing a sale. Just make sure you close the sale.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Sales Confidence

You Can’t Succeed At Sales Working In Failure Mode

Customers buy products because of awesome marketing, not because of an awesome salesperson.

Jurgen Appelo

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As an entrepreneur, time is your scarcest resource. You should try to spend each minute of your work life in the most effective way possible. This means reducing the time you spend on sales and increasing the time you spend on marketing. Marketing scales; sales doesn’t.

Let’s look at typical sales activities. You spend a good amount of time one-on-one with individual clients, explaining to them what your products or services are for and what the benefits are compared to the alternatives. You try to influence leads and prospects in a personal way, hoping to turn them into paying customers.

With typical marketing activities, you spend more time on one-to-many approaches – reaching out to audiences with valuable ideas, offering entry-level products and services for free, presenting yourself and your business as authentic and handling any interactions with leads and prospects in a scalable way. Using this distinction, it is clear that sales activities don’t scale, but marketing activities do.

Related: The Sales That Really Count

When you have to verbally explain to someone the differences between two versions of your product, you are wasting your time.

You’re doing sales. You should use that time to make it clear to potential clients – using text, audio or video – what you offer in which versions. That’s marketing.

When you’re physically on the road or in a store trying to convince leads and prospects that your products and services are great, you are doing sales. It would have been more effective to use that time making your products and services so awesome, that word gets around and clients are lining up to get a piece of the awesomeness. That’s marketing.

When you are personally leading people around your store, showing them your wares and getting them to test some products, you’re in sales. When you enable people to try things for themselves and use the internet for information, you’re in marketing.

Your ultimate goal is to reduce the time you spend on sales to zero, and spend it all on marketing. Granted, it is unlikely that you will ever truly reach zero, but it’s a useful goal. Part of the marketing job is prioritising ideas and requests for development. The end goal is to make things awesome. The service department is also an area where marketing plays a role because all client contacts are opportunities for marketing.

When you have products and services that are great, people should be eager to be your customers. If that is not the case, you lack in marketing, not in sales.

Some people will argue that there are products and services that require a personal touch. Some would say, for example, that you cannot just have people test drive a Mercedes-Benz E-Class without a salesperson guiding them through the process. I disagree.

High-end products do require a personal touch, but that’s not sales; that is a service people pay for. This service comes with the product. It starts before the actual purchase, and it extends far after. Thanks to great development, service and marketing, the customer should already have made up his or her mind.

Related: 3 Online Marketing Strategies To Kick-Start Stagnant Sales

The “salesperson” is not spending any time selling anything to the client. Marketing should have already influenced and convinced the client. The salesperson just makes the purchasing process an enjoyable experience, which is the premium service the client pays for.

Don’t waste time on sales because sales activities don’t scale. You are operating in failure mode. It indicates that development, service and marketing were not able to make and communicate something that customers think is awesome. And it’s only awesome for you when you can scale it, and when clients pay a premium price for personal service.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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