• Customer Care – or don’t care?

    - Alistair Powel





    Why do we still have to put up with erratic and inconsistent customer service?

    A fortune is spent by companies on building brand awareness, advertising, and training sales people to win new business. Yet, the simple philosophy of outstanding customer service is often ignored.

    Your best salesperson is often your receptionist, the person answering the phone, or your service engineer. Yet, we frequently pay little attention to the impact they have on potential clients.

    My recent experiences have highlighted this – painfully! These included a car hire company, whose desk staff seemed to find me invisible despite there only being three of us in the office, the car salesroom, that had to have three reminders before returning my calls. However, the gold star award goes to the funeral home, whose total lack of empathy caused my whole family to walk out mid-way through making arrangements. The latter was a referral, we were not even considering anyone else – but we changed our minds as the people there made very little attempt to nurture or care for us at a very difficult time.

    Conversely, I’ve had great customer care – from the other car hire place where I went after the first one let me down – they made it a joy and fun to be there. I now go back there very time.

    What does it take to provide great customer care? It’s not difficult. Be ACE

    • Attentive – make that person feel wanted and appreciated, listen and make sure you understand their needs
    • Cheerful – a smile goes a long way to building good bonding and rapport
    • Efficient – respond quickly, show people you want their business

    Smart companies make it their philosophy to build this into their company culture, ensuring it is repeatable and consistent across all staff. Companies such as Disney, John Lewis, South West are renowned for it – and the volunteers at the London Olympics were remembered for the outstanding customer care they showed throughout the whole event.

    So, look at your staff, are they providing great customer care? Do you realise how important a role they play as sales people for your company, or do you leave it to chance?

  • Get Tough!

    The situations sales professionals face on a day-to-day basis can take a tremendous toll on your emotional and mental well-being. You deal with rejections, frustration, disappointment, and possibly disrespect on a daily basis. You probably experience more emotional ups and downs than most other professionals. And, no matter how successful you are, your income is less predictable than that of salaried employees. As a salesperson, your level of mental and emotional toughness affects you every day, both on and off the job.

    How do we create a sales culture of being mentally and emotionally tough? Perhaps more importantly, why do we need one?

    Being mentally and emotionally tough is less about what you say and do than it is about how you feel about what you say and do. For example, if your feelings about asking a prospect to make a decision keep you from asking, then you start a downward spiral to nowhere. First, you’re uncomfortable asking, so you don’t ask and end up wasting time with a non-qualified prospect. You get angry with yourself and/or the prospect for wasting time. All these negative feelings and actions only serve to tear down your emotional and mental well-being.

    Here’s a Sandler rule: “Never become emotionally involved in a sales call, especially a cold call.” Being emotionally tough doesn’t mean that you have no emotions or that you are a cold person. It means that you have learned how to control your emotions so they don’t keep you from doing what you have to do

    How often do you have to be tough in sales?

    Only for five minutes at a time. There is no need to put undue pressure on yourself to be tough all the time. What’s really important is to be tough during those times when you need to be. It only takes five minutes to be tough enough and bolster your courage to do the things and ask the questions that we find personally difficult.

    Most salespeople have reluctance to pick up that 900 pound phone and make that first cold call. It only takes five minutes. Salespeople are also uncomfortable asking about the money. There are comfortable ways to do this. Learn them and then get tough with yourself for five minutes to ask the question that will get you the answer. Another issue is asking for the business. We all have trouble with this but boosting your toughness for five minutes will improve your chances of obtaining a new business relationship.

    Can you spare five minutes?

    Anneli Thomson

    Anneli Thomson

    Anneli is an expert in sales culture and talent management. She is a keen champagne drinker and triathlon enthusiast. The UK Franchisee of the Year 2014.

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  • Ever thought of how “Change” effects selling?


    This blog looks at change from the context of buying – and selling.

    Buying and selling can defined be in its broadest terms – selling a product or service or an idea. So it applies to a non-sales selling situation such as being persuaded to do something, support something and persuading someone to do something, support something etc.  It can also be applied to more traditionally defined sales situation – exchanging a product or service for money.

    Looking at buying.  Any purchase of any kind – thing, service or idea – requires a change.  Looking at some examples:

    • Buying new clothes or new shoes – they will feel different (and make you feel different) and thus are a change
    • Commissioning a new website – this requires a change in the look and feel of your online brand, new processes (if it includes different functionality), new opportunities
    • Investing in sales training – this requires you to let go of some of the things you do, change what you do and take some risks
    • Agreeing to do something different at work, or adopt a new work practice – this changes your actions or your beliefs

    It follows therefore that when we are selling we are actually facilitating a change.

    Looking at our change equation, change is a function of:

    • dissatisfaction with the present
    • a vision of the future
    • some first practical steps

    And to be personally motivated to make the change the sum of these needs to be equal to or greater to the cost or pain or effort of making the change

    Therefore before we can sell something to someone they need:

    • to be dissatisfied with what they have at the moment
    • a clear vision of the future – of where they could be, what could be happening
    • an idea of how to get there and confidence that it is possible – and then in turn, the actual route map
    • for the above to be equal to or great to the cost or pain or effort of making the change.

    If any of these elements are missing you will not make a sale.

    Taking an example of investing in sales training.  If I am happy enough with my client acquisition processes, even if I know at one level that I ‘should’ be bringing on more clients, unless something more compelling drives me (and creates dissatisfaction) I am not going to make a change.  Equally if I cannot imagine a future where I have more clients and enjoy some real benefits from this, I will not make the investment (in time, money and personal upheaval).  And finally if I do not think that you are the person to take me there I will not buy from you (i.e. I need to see my ‘first practical steps’).  And even if those things are in place, if I am not convinced that the cost – in terms of my time, my money or the demands placed on me – will be met or exceeded through the investment in training I will not buy.

    To sell effectively we need to facilitate our buyer in exploring the change equation for themselves and making a decision to change or not to change.

    Lisette Howlett

    For twenty years Lisette Howlett lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the USA where she held senior positions running global programmes in some of the world’s leading companies. Since leaving corporate life Lisette has been successfully running her own consultancy for 8 years. Typically her sales training clients include entrepreneurs, CEOs, start-ups, Sales Directors, MDs, Senior Partners and business owners – often these are people who don’t consider themselves as traditional sales people but are committed to growing their businesses and thus recognise the need to sell more effectively and more authentically. Visit her Huffington Post Blog Tel: 020 7484 5556

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