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The Upside: Killer Sales Tips

3 posts from February 2010

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February 23, 2010

10 Ways to Exceed Expectations in Customer Service

Customers crave old-fashioned, friendly, and informed service over speed. And there is plenty of evidence that good customer service is positively correlated with a company's financial performance.

In a recent CRM Today survey of 2,000 consumers in the U.S and the U.K., nearly half (49%) said poor service led them to change service providers in at least one industry over the past year.

Here is my own recent Case Study of bad customer service....

I recently moved and needed to transfer my Internet service. Should be simple, right?  Then why did I dread making the phone call?  Although the Account Executive was very friendly, he was unable to make the simple service switch without the aide of a supervisor and 45 minute hold time for me. At the end of the call, he promised me all I needed to do was plug in my modem and it would all magically work. Right. (Sound familiar?)

Skeptical, I went home and plugged in the modem only to find that the magic had not happened. I sighed and uttered a naughty word as I reached to contact my ISP via phone....again. After being disconnected from the call 3 times, and with a total wait time of 23 minutes, I finally reached a "technical expert". He informed me he needed to flip a switch to "talk" to my modem and then asked me to reboot my Mac. I told him I did not want to reboot my computer as I knew it was unnecessary (being in a technical field myself). He tried to convince me otherwise. It felt like he was following a scripted checklist, instead of listening to the me. He argued further with me and only stopped when I told him my Internet access was back up.

Unfortunately, I was reminded how difficult it is to find a company with easy customer service these days!  Here at Glance, we stick to 10 principles of customer service, and have received rave reviews about how we consistently exceed expectations, which translates into loyal customers and word-of-mouth sales:

  1. Be a good listener. Take the time to identify customer needs by asking questions and concentrating on what the customer is really saying. Don't make assumptions.
  2. Identify and anticipate their needs. Customers don't buy products or services. They buy good feelings and solutions to problems.
  3. Make customers feel important and appreciated. Treat them as individuals. Always use their name and find ways to compliment them, but be sincere.
  4. Help customers understand your technology in as simple a way as possible. Your company may have the world's best technology, but if customers don't understand it, they may get confused and impatient.
  5. Appreciate the power of "Yes". When customers have a (reasonable) request tell them that you can do it. And, always do what you say you are going to do.
  6. Know how and when to apologize. When something goes wrong, apologize. It's easy and customers like it. The customer may not always be right, but the customer should always feel like "they won".
  7. Give more than expected, and give the unexpected. Think of ways to elevate yourself above the competition. 
  8. Get regular feedback from your customers. Encourage and welcome suggestions about how you could improve.
  9. Never forget that the customer pays our salary and makes your job possible.
  10. Treat staff well. Employees are your internal customers and need a regular dose of appreciation. Thank them and find ways to let them know how important they are.

-- Jo Klos and Carla Gates

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February 13, 2010

"I have not yet begun to fight!" | What Did John Paul Jones Have in Common with Today's Elite Sales Pros?

In Portsmouth, NH, this weekend, taking a mini-break from work, we came across the "John Paul Jones House" on Middle St., where the famous Revolutionary Naval War hero lived between 1777 and 1782.

John Paul Jones is most famous for NOT giving up, even as his own ship, the U.S.S. Bonhomme Richard, sank around him.

As the legend goes, after conducting sea raids on the coast of Britain, he took command in 1779 of a rebuilt French merchant ship, renamed the U.S.S.Bonhomme Richard to honor Benjamin Franklin. On September 23, 1779, Jones engaged the British frigate Serapis in the North Sea, daringly sailing in close, lashing his vessel to the British ship, and fighting the battle at point-blank range. During the fight, 2 of his cannon burst, and the British Captain asked Jones if he was ready to surrender. Replied Jones: "Sir, I have not yet begun to fight!"

The American crew finally boarded the Serapis after the British had surrendered her colors, and from the deck of the Serapis they watched the U.S.S.Bonhomme Richard sink into the North Sea, but having won the battle and captured the Serapis.

So, what did John Paul Jones have in common with elite sales pros of today?

  • He had a good team;
  • He thought highly of his abilities;
  • He took risks;
  • He assumed he would win the battle, even as his ship was sinking around him;
  • He never gave up;
  • He psyched out the competition, who must have thought he was crazy for not perceiving his own eminent defeat;
  • He inspired his team with his stated confidence in his and their abilities.

Who knows what was the key to Jones' victory....was it his belief in himself and his team, or did he intimidate the competition with his loudly proclaimed self-confidence?

Today's sales pros face similar odds: According to a recent CSO Insights report, only 52.4% of sales reps at the companies surveyed made sales quote in 2009. As a point of comparison, that number was 61.1% in 2007. So what do you do? Think like John Paul Jones....get together a good team, take risks, think positively, psych out the competition, and above all, as the ship is sinking, yell out, "I have not yet begun to sell!"

-- Carla Gates, Director, Marketing

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February 10, 2010

Car Sales: Old-School Pitching Makes for Negative Buying Experiences

Why is it after all these years, the majority of the car buying consumers cringe at the thought of dealing with a car salesperson?  Being in sales for 20 years myself, and now at Glance Networks, I have seen companies evolve their sales process away from the hard-sell pitch and toward a value-add conversation.  But not the car dealers.  Why not?  My own emotional response:  It is a game to see how many consumers they can take advantage of... 

And most Americans agree...in a Gallup poll taken last November, 51% of Americans believe car dealers to have "very low honesty and ethical standards".

My most recent experience was a few months ago.   I went into the process fully armed with months of research (reliability, safety, features, and price). After all my research, I selected a Honda CRV.  I drove to the dealership and expected to test drive and get a price all within an hours' worth of my time. 

I should have known better.  

I was there for FIVE hours!  (Did I mention I was 8 1/2 months pregnant?)  My frustration was boiling over as they determined I would be better off purchasing a used 07' model for the same price as an 09'.  It  was amazing to watch the tag team dance performed by the sales person and the the sales manager,  driving the point to me that this was the best deal I'd ever see, and I needed to agree NOW, as it wouldn't be offered tomorrow.

Did they know I was pregnant, not stupid?  Of course I walked away from the dealership with a very bad taste in my mouth, and NO sale. Two questions crossed my mind:  

  1. What purpose does a car salesperson serve, if they actually have no power? They seem to always have to get their sales manager involved, as he / she makes all the $$ decisions; and
  2. What was I thinking....wasting 5 hours of my Sunday afternoon at a car dealership? 

I did finally purchase a vehicle, but not without a fight. Instead of wasting my time driving from dealer to dealer, I found a way to take matters into my own hands. I went to Vehix.com for a price quote, and completed a bid request, which was sent to local dealers of my choice. They all contacted me via email and I was able to price-haggle with them by email, by stating another dealers' offer of a lower price.

I don't intend to purchase another new vehicle for many years.  When I do, I will research, test drive, but then opt to do the price haggle dance via the Internet again. Lesson learned: I don't really need a salesperson for the close anymore.

What are your thoughts? Why does the car buying process seem to stay "old school" at the dealerships? Why haven't we evolved a less painful car sales process? Anyone out there have different experiences at dearlerships?

-- Jo Klos, Senior Account Manager

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