Max and the Little Extras

Max and the Little Extras

Max and the Little Extras

In this latest abstract from Ed Wallace’s book, Business Relationships That Last, Ed and Max, the remarkable taxi driver, remind us that it’s all about the experience that we create for our customers and colleagues and many times that experiences is manifested in doing all of the ‘little things.’ “Max and the Little Extras” is a great reminder of that.

Three weeks later, on the morning Max had agreed to pick me up, I was running a few minutes behind schedule. I kept checking out the front window, hoping to catch him before he rang the doorbell. At exactly 5:00 a.m., I heard a gentle tap on the screen door. As I walked to the taxi with Max, I imagined how many people had probably ridden in his taxi over the previous three weeks, yet despite that large number, he had remembered I had an infant son who was most likely sleeping at such an early hour. Max’s thoughtfulness and ability to remember details about my life impressed me.

During my next several rides to the airport in Max’s marvelous taxi, we talked almost entirely about my life. (Notice that I was no longer driving myself to the airport!) He asked about my work, where I was traveling to, my ambitions, my family. I could hardly believe how at ease I felt opening up to him. I was more comfortable telling Max things about myself than I was telling people I had known much longer. The more time I spent with Max, the more interested I became in learning how he was able to make me—and most likely all of his customers—feel so comfortable.

When asked, he told me a few things about himself, his business, and his day-to-day schedule as a taxi driver and small business owner. His clients could not be easily categorized. They were local CEOs and their colleagues. They were sales professionals going to the airport and elderly people going shopping. They were groups of ladies going to the city for a day at the art museum, lunch, and a nice tour of the historic district. I finally asked how he had developed such a long list of loyal customers, hoping he would provide me with a “secret to success” that most client-facing professionals dream about. “Simple, Ed,” he answered, holding his thumb and index finger about an inch apart. “It’s the little extras that turn fares into friends.” I thought about what Max meant by the “little extras.” Sure, it was great fun riding around in his taxi; it was the only one of its kind in the area and attracted a lot of attention. But that was only a “It’s the little extras that turn fares into friends.” That’s a small part of what made Max a success—and he was a remarkable business success.

After a few minutes, I realized that his entire business philosophy was based on friendship, and the little extras that friends would do for each other. So, I asked, “What are these little extras? Are they the on-time arrivals? The courtesy and warmth? Treating everyone equally? The impeccable upkeep of the taxi and the quiet environment it provides? The bottled water? Listening, remembering, and having a genuine interest in the riders’ lives? The gentle tap on the screen door at five o’clock in the morning?” Max answered, “Yes.” “Which one?” I asked. Just as the words were coming out of my mouth, I got it. Of course, how could I not get it? Max was skilled at identifying and aligning with each rider’s specific needs and situation. But how did he do this? I believe that Max woke up every morning thinking not that he was going to work but that he was going to spend the day with his close friends. This is obviously a very different approach from viewing business as a series of transactions in which both parties want something from each other. If we define friends as “parties who help one another,” and if you consider everyone you interact with your friend, then adding the little extras in your business relationships would be as easy as including them in your personal life, which you do naturally. On the simplest level, Max’s job was to provide a ride from one place to another. Any driver could do that, and do it on time, safely, and courteously. But when you rode with Max, the quality of the relationship, the conversation—the whole experience—was so enjoyable, supportive, enlightening, and pleasant that you didn’t want the trip to be over. He had mastered the art of taking his so-called simple business from a merely transactional level to the It’s the Little Extras!

The Time is Now

For more information on our classes and assessments, please visit us at Learning Without Scars.

Virtual Selling and Time Management

Virtual Selling and Time Management

Virtual Selling and Time Management

Don Buttrey, President of Sales Professional Training, Inc. is back with a new installment of his CRM Hell series: Virtual Selling and Time Management.

 

Virtual Selling Tips related to Vital Selling Regimens.

The virtual world is all on you. You are in control of every aspect of your world. Your life, your world, everything. It is a big change. We had become comfortable with our “old” routines. How we proceeded through the day. How we organized our calls. Now we have to “relearn” how to do everything.

Time and Appointment Management (calendar)
  • Check/improve internet speed. Upgrade if needed. This is your new main venue and you must avoid as many potential distractions as possible.
  • Set aside time each week to SCHEDULE calls/video conferences with current and prospective customers. Call and/or email to ask for best day/time then send invites. Be proactive. Take control.
  • Load up your calendar with appointments and live by that calendar.
  • Confirm next meeting and venue (call or video) at the end of every sales call.

With time management applied to our virtual world, we can stay on top of our customer service.

For more information on our classes and assessments, please visit us at Learning Without Scars.

Call Reporting

Call Reporting

Call Reporting

Virtual Selling Tips related to Vital Selling Regimens, by Don Buttrey, President of Sales Professional Training, Inc. Today, Don shares with us the importance of Call Reporting in Customer Relationship Management.

Let me discuss some items requiring more discipline and attention in this “Virtual” world we are living in today.

Call Reporting

  • If working remotely, it is even more critical to include to define your commitment to some specific start/stop times and aggressive guidelines on how many calls you will make each day. Own it. Be accountable. Do the grunge work. It will pay off in the long run! If you coast or get distracted it will bite you. Get fired with enthusiasm! . . .or . . . be ‘fired up’ with enthusiasm!
  • Set target ‘guidelines’ to make more calls/touches in this current market! And that is now feasible due to elimination of travel time. Use that to your advantage and be tenacious with the discipline of proactive calls! The slower the market, the harder we must work as salespeople! No excuses.
  • Mix up your touch points such as phone, email, video etc. Try multiple approaches until you connect. Do not give up.
  • Monitor and document communication preferences in your CRM for each contact (such as email, text, call, video –Zoom, Meet, TEAMS, FaceTime, etc.)
For more information on our classes and assessments, please visit us at Learning Without Scars.

From My Perspective

From My Perspective

From My Perspective

From My Perspective is the latest guest blog by Don Buttrey, President of Sales Professional Training.

We have covered the headlines and some thinking on Customer Relationship Management. Let me wrap it up with these final thoughts.

HELP! I’m in CRM hell!

My position is that the “software” is not a solution per se.  The solution is getting the entire organization to embrace the power and value of knowledge with effective team selling.  Call documentation, account strategic planning, pre-call planning, post call documentation, customer profile completion, account tiering and prioritization, calendar management, and whole team communication must be taught and expected first and foremost. Then, CRM can and will be embraced by all as a powerful technological tool that makes doing all these things easier—and actually possible! As an analogy, this is similar to learning the concepts and discipline of mathematics first – then seeing the time savings and exponential power that a calculator or computer can provide.

Every dealer I have trained in the last 20+ years has seen the need – and is at some stage of CRM initiation or operation. Like cell phones or any other technology it has become a part of being a sales organization. I do not sell or promote any particular CRM.  However, due to the inevitability of dealers needing and using it, my training addresses it throughout my curriculum. As a sales trainer, my service to dealers is to support and promote buy-in and implementation of all the selling and service activities that CRM documents, tracks, and manages. I teach the “why” of CRM and make sure that leaders do not dictate it – but that all levels of the dealership accept the duties of data entry, maximize it’s use, and are involved in continuous improvement and ongoing customization of the tool.

For more information on our programs and assessments, please visit us at Learning Without Scars.

Facing Difficult Situations

 

Facing Difficult Situations

Today’s guest blog is another installment from Christine Corelli.

The following are examples of some valuable approaches to take that should help you face these difficult situations. As you review them, note that each example uses the customer’s name.  Addressing someone by name shows respect and enhances the importance of the relationship.

  • “I would like to be able to tell you I can do this for you.  Unfortunately, I’m not able to.” Then, follow it with, “Here’s what I CAN do for you,” and tell them what action you will take.
  • “I don’t blame you for being upset, Mr. Smith.  I would feel the same if I were you.”
  • “I feel really bad about this, John.  It’s an inconvenience I know.” (Great one!)
  • “I’m sorry you’re still waiting, Mr. Jones.  I just spoke with the service tech and he’s on his way. Please understand that traffic is backed up due to the storm.  I appreciate your patience.”
  • “I apologize if there’s been a misunderstanding. Mr. Smith, I’ll talk with the sales person immediately and get back to you as soon as I obtain answers for you.”
  • “I am sorry that you think you were overcharged, Joe. Let’s walk through the invoice together.” If there are any errors, we will make corrections immediately.”
  • “I understand your position, John.  If I could do more for you, I would.”
  • “Mr. Smith, I would like to be able to tell you I can do this without charging you for it. Unfortunately, I can’t.  Here’s what I can do for you…”

A Few More Tips:

1.      Welcome complaints. How else will you know what needs to be fixed?

2.     Know where every part each customer will need are located for when they need it.

3.     Have a team standing by with people who are trained to locate a part when you can’t find it in 30 minutes.

4.     Hold weekly meetings on Monday mornings with your service manager, parts manager, branch manager to talk about the week before, and discuss problems.

5.     Salespeople must understand how the service department functions. They should go back, observe, and understand why the department can get backed up for 3 days.

6.     Make sure every department and every employee serve each other exceptionally well. If they don’t, how can you provide the highest quality service to customers and develop a reputation for service that is far superior to any competitor?

7.     Check and double-check every sale, maintenance, and billing entry on every order, every day.

8.     Keep your customers and salespeople informed when a problem occurs.

9.     Ask for and obtain accountability from every employee to display a sense of urgency to serve.

10.  Don’t suggest the warranty unless you are sure it applies.

11.  Take ownership of any problem you receive. Don’t hand it off until you are sure the right person is handling it. Then, follow up with the customer to make sure they are happy. Simply say, “I understand Susan, our Parts Manager took care of you. Great. Let us know if there’s anything more we can do for you.”

12.  Product support managers get out and talk to customers face to face. Take them to lunch. Ask how they are doing. Are we doing okay for you?”  Involve smaller customers too. Make an effort to get to customers who are not located near your dealership.

13.  If you send a tech out and they will be more than 10 minutes late, make sure they call the customer to let them know.

14.  If a customer is waiting for important information and you are held up, call to keep let them know it’s on the front burner, and you will call them the moment you have the answer.

15.  Never make a promise you can’t keep.

16.  Practice safety. Lockout and tag out if necessary.

17.  Ask complete questions, paraphrase to reconfirm what customers want

18.  Obtain complete contact information, machine locations, model, year, hours, etc.

19.  Communicate full, accurate, communication to internal and external customers.  This is especially important when it involves overtime. Let the customer know from the “get-go.”

20. Take responsibility to keep customers’ equipment up and running.

21.  Don’t assume your staff knows how to handle difficult customers and situations. Provide training.

22. Make sure managers receive training on leadership and employee motivation.

23. Create “guiding principles” for how you will treat customers and each other.

24. Service managers should remind customers about the smallest things – such as checking little O-rings.

25. On Monday mornings, your service manager, parts manager, branch manager should have meetings to talk about the week before, air problems, etc.

26. Salespeople must know how the service department functions. They should go back and observe and understand why they can get backed up for 3 days.

27. Sit down with your team and add at least ten more to this list. I could. But this article is long enough!

You’re already doing some of these things? Hopefully yes, but here’s my question to you: How well are you doing them?  How can you do them even better? Continuous improvement is a best practice!  If you are saying you should be doing them, then do them.

A final word on difficult customers: Never carry an encounter with a difficult customer or situation over to your next customer, or take it out on your team.  Understand that if their livelihood has been compromised, they are very likely to get upset.

Accept that in the equipment business, and in every business, difficult customers and situations come with the territory.  What is most important is that you have systems and procedures to prevent problems from occurring. Equally important, you and your team must have the training and knowledge to provide flawless customer service and obtain the highest level of customer loyalty.

Develop an obsession to deliver your best performance, with every customer every day.  In the end, the customer will be the judge and jury on how well you perform.

Christine Corelli approaches her work with extraordinary creativity, enthusiasm, and attention to detail. In any venue, hers is a voice to be reckoned with — in more ways than one; She is a highly successful businesswoman with a distinguished 27-year career as a conference speaker, business columnist, consultant, and author of seven business books. To her credit, she has shared her insight in over 1400 presentations, and hands-on workshops throughout 14 countries, on CNBC, WGN TV, and in over two hundred fifty articles in leading publications including CED Magazine.

Christine’s insight stems from her vast experience across a wide-variety of industries, and by interacting with some of the most successful leaders across the globe, as well as top-performing sales organizations, and companies known for World Class Customer Service. 

Christine’s is no stranger to the equipment industry. She has worked equipment manufacturers including Caterpillar, KPI-JCI, Link-Belt, Komatsu, Kubota, Case/IH as well as numerous dealers and dealer associations. She been a popular presenter at numerous AED and Con/Ag Con/Expo events. To learn more visit christinespeaks.com

To Book Contact: Gene Leigh, Director of Marketing (847) 477-7376, E-mail: gene@christinespeaks.com

For more information on our classes and assessments, please visit us at Learning Without Scars.

It’s Time for Implementation

It’s Time for Implementation

It's Time for Implementation

As with everything we do implementation is the critical element to our success. As it’s time for implementation, here are some thoughts for you to consider.

HELP! I’m in CRM hell!

From my extensive work in training equipment dealers, I have observed the challenges that most of them confront. If a dealer is in the early stages of selecting or initiating a CRM, here are some important concerns to anticipate:

  • Connectivity problems – especially in rural territories.
  • Integration and compatibility with operating systems and existing databases
  • Customization flexibility and speed of requested changes or revisions of the structure or fields.
  • Technology comfort barriers of the users
  • Data entry time requirements and user-friendliness
  • Ownership of the importance by sales and support (facilitated by training)
  • Adoption and utilization of all functions (calendar, quoting, opportunities, machine population, service history, account prioritization and call frequency)
  • Integration and compatibility with all segments or functions of the dealership (service, parts, other divisions-such as power generation/GPS technology/allied products/etc., rental)

If you want to add more to our list please let us know by email. Good luck in your journey to implementing this important sales and sales management tool.

Don Buttrey is the president of Sales Professional Training Inc., a company that offers in-depth skill development for sales professionals and sales support. He has trained thousands of salespeople over 25 years and clearly understands the selling environment of equipment dealers and manufacturers. His curriculum is comprehensive and proven! Don is also the author of “The SELL Process”, a foundational how-to book on effective sales interactions.

Don can be reached at (937) 427-1717 or email donbuttrey@salesprofessionaltraining.com

Check out this website link salesprofessionaltraining.com  for more information – or to purchase online sales training.

Customer Service Best Practices

Customer Service Best Practices

Most equipment dealers know that difficult customers and situations “come with the territory.” When dealing with expensive transactions or equipment breakdowns, even the most mild-mannered customer may get upset. What is important is learning how to deal with these encounters and mitigating any negativity that may result. This is where customer service best practices come into play.

Whether you are dealing face-to-face or on the phone, these situations are more than mere challenges. If you can’t handle them professionally, resolve the problem, and satisfy your customers, they will switch over to your competitor. It’s that simple. Inevitably, they will tell others they were not satisfied with your service. Believe me; bad news in the equipment distribution business does travel fast. Customers belong to the same associations and they talk to each other at construction association and Farm Bureau events and in the field. The result will be an assault on your reputation – something no distributor can afford.

Whether you are a dealer principal, salesperson, parts manager, or service manager you need to handle difficult or irate customers with the utmost professionalism. This requires shifting into the right mind-set and communicating with them in a confident, competent and non-combative manner. As a start to the process, follow these important guidelines to help you through a tough encounter:

Step 1:  Maintain your cool.  First and foremost, prepare yourself for what is to come. There may be angry words, personal affronts, and highly charged emotions. This is the kind of situation where it is easy to lose your cool and become defensive – especially if you think the customer is being unreasonable.

Your mounting stress can lead to increased anger, which will only make your customers even more upset. By learning to put some distance between you and the situation, you can control your emotions. This is what I call the “Be Cool” mindset; it is the best protection you have from the angry person confronting you.

Let’s assume you are a service manager and you receive a call from an irate customer who is trying to deal with an equipment problem. The customer is very challenging, but you remind yourself that he or she is not as technically proficient as you are. Therefore, you can be more sympathetic to his or her problem. Assume the “Be Cool” attitude. Be patient, (even if your service department is swamped!), stay calm, and reassure them that you will help them solve the problem.

Do not sound impatient or say anything to make it worse. Now is not the time to remind them that they shouldn’t have touched anything and that you had given them the proper maintenance procedure when you delivered the machine.  Instead, be cool and start a positive approach. Begin by asking a few questions and talking the customer through the problem, step by step. Reassure the customer along the way. If you can’t talk it through, get help to them as quickly as possible.

2. Admit you are wrong. Take responsibility immediately if you or anyone in your company made the mistake. Even if there is some doubt, settle the problem someway. This is hard to do since ultimately there is a financial responsibility in all of this. Nevertheless, own up to the situation. Hopefully, if you handle everything quickly, the financial burden will be light. At the very least, you will have saved a customer and that will mean business in the future. Everyone can make a mistake-don’t make another one by turning off your customer.

3. Know what the customer wants. Generally, an angry person just wants to vent his or her anger. Usually, that means taking the anger out on someone else — in this case, you. You will get the brunt of it even if you are not to blame. Often, a customer will take it out on you even when the technicians did not respond fast enough or the new equipment purchase was not delivered when promised.

It is always best to let the customer have their say before you respond. Let them blow off steam. They can vent and calm down. Once that happens, they usually just want reassurance that:

  • You are concerned about them and their problem.
  • They will be taken seriously.
  • You are capable of handling the situation.
  • They will be given your undivided attention.
  • They will be treated with respect.
  • They can expect a fast response.
  • They will know you are on their side.
  • They are important to you.
  • Your words communicate empathy.

4.  Do not judge or correct. Never judge or correct a customer.  If they are angry with you, refrain from making any statements that are judgmental or you may cause the customer defensive. Now is not the time to say, “Why didn’t you make sure you maintained the excavator properly?” Or, “Why didn’t you change the oil?” Now is the time for action; now you must solve the problem.

Apologize, empathize, and help them in every way possible.   If you can solve the problem and send them out the door as a happy customer, then you have handled the situation well. Studies show that deftly handling tough situations and solving problems with professionalism yields the opportunity to build stronger business relationships.

5.  Apply verbal cushions.  When a customer is angry, you can diffuse the situation by applying “verbal cushions,” a communication technique taught by customer service trainers. These words and phrases “cushion” a customer’s complaint and will help you to service them more effectively. The verbal cushions below communicate a sense of concern, promote cooperation, and display empathy. Memorize them so that you can apply them in challenging situations.

  • “I apologize this occurred, John.”
  • “I can understand why you are upset.”
  • “I’m very sorry this has happened to you.”
  • “I apologize if there’s been a misunderstanding.”
  • “I can understand why you would be unhappy.”
  • “I understand your position.”
  • “Thank you for bringing this to my attention.”
  • “I understand. This is crucial to the job you’re doing.”
  • “I recognize the urgency involved. Let me take care of this immediately.”

6.  Calm out of control customers. When dealing with customers who use foul language and just won’t back down, steel yourself against the onslaught and stay calm. This is never easy. Your first reaction might be to yell back at them, become defensive, and continue to support your position-right or wrong. Now, more than ever, use verbal cushions such as:

  • “Sir, I haven’t said or done anything to disrespect you in any way. May I ask the same of you?”
  • “Let work this out in a professional manner.”

7.  Be proactive in problem prevention. Progressive dealers practice Proactive Complaint Prevention. They make it a strong part of their culture. Make sure your dealership has the appropriate, timely systems and procedures in place to avoid problems that can cause customers to become difficult.  Consider taking the following leadership actions to ensure that you are ready for any situation:

  • Make the creation of a “Service Excellence” culture a major strategic initiative in your company.
  • Communicate service excellence continuously and make sure your people take it seriously.
  • Provide training to employees on the soft side of customer service and write specifics on how they should think and act as brand ambassadors who will positively represent your dealership.
  • Create a written service policy with the highest standards for service excellence.
  • Enlist the support of high-performance teams to create guiding principles on how you will communicate, act, and operate that demonstrate the core values of honesty, integrity, caring, professionalism, and respect.  These are some suggestions to put in place:

“If a customer calls with a problem, we will own the problem and make sure their problem is resolved.”

“Before we leave home each day, we will make sure all parts ordered have been shipped, and make sure backorders have been found.”

“If a customer needs a part and we don’t have it in our inventory, a team

of three people will jump in and help the parts manager locate what they need.”

“We will apologize immediately if customers have had to wait, or if they have a complaint.”

“If our service technician will be more than ten minutes late, he or she will call the customer to let them know.”

“We will double-check every order, shipment, and billing entry.”

“If a shipment or order will be late, we will call the customer to keep them informed.”

“We will always make sure a customer stays informed. We will provide progress updates at all times, and let them know we are working for them.”

“If a customer is waiting for important information and we can’t obtain it quickly, we will call them to let them know we are still waiting, and will advise them the moment the information comes through.”

“We will always strive to give the customer more than he or she expects.”

“We will follow up with customers to make sure they are taken care of and are happy with our work.”

8. Take the leadership role. Work with your team or enlist the help of a professional to create guiding principles that are specific to your business. Print them out so everyone has them and consistently update them.

The following are additional leadership actions to take that will help you to avoid problems:

  • Document complaints and talk about how they could have been avoided.
  • Work to uncover and eliminate any service flaws.
  • Instruct sales reps and service managers to under-promise and over-deliver.
  • Strive to seek ways to make it easier for customers to do business with you.
  • Train your employees in the philosophy and actions of teamwork.
  • Commit to servicing your “internal customers” as well as your external customers.
  • Record and distribute service excellence rules so they permeate your entire business.
  • Hold weekly meetings to discuss “Hits,” “Runs” and “Misses.”
  • Create a Problem Resolution Report for executives so they can stay informed and can pick up the phone and call customers to make sure they are happy.

9. What do you do when you can’t help a customer or do as they ask?  Let them down gently using a verbal cushion that displays professionalism and demonstrates empathy.

There is a lot to do but there are huge rewards for the successful dealers.

Christine Corelli approaches her work with extraordinary creativity,

enthusiasm, and attention to detail. In any venue, hers is a voice to be reckoned with — in more ways than one; She is a highly successful businesswoman with a distinguished 27-year career as a conference speaker, business columnist, consultant, and author of seven business books. To her credit, she has shared her insight in over 1400 presentations, and hands-on workshops throughout 14 countries, on CNBC, WGN TV, and in over two hundred fifty articles in leading publications including CED Magazine.

Christine’s insight stems from her vast experience across a wide-variety of industries, and by interacting with some of the most successful leaders across the globe, as well as top-performing sales organizations, and companies known for World Class Customer Service. 

Christine’s is no stranger to the equipment industry. She has worked equipment manufacturers including Caterpillar, KPI-JCI, Link-Belt, Komatsu, Kubota, Case/IH as well as numerous dealers and dealer associations. She been a popular presenter at numerous AED and Con/Ag Con/Expo events. To learn more visit christinespeaks.com

To Book Contact: Gene Leigh, Director of Marketing (847) 477-7376,  E-mail: gene@christinespeaks.com

 

CRM and Dealer Executives

CRM and Dealer Executives

A new guest blog by Don Buttrey, President of Sales Professional Training. Today, Don shares with us the importance of CRM for Dealer Executives.

Customer Relationship Management is a long way from a salesman having his little black book. This concept causes concern in the executive leadership of the business and the sales teams.

HELP! I’m in CRM hell!

Here are a few of the reasons that dealer principals and leaders are constrained to have a functional CRM solution:

  • Coverage, market share growth, awareness/participation and better service
  • Real time selling information
  • Team selling and strategic growth of key accounts
  • Marketing campaigns (focused mailers, promotions etc)
  • Dealership possession of market and customer information (not out in a salespersons trunk or private laptop)
  • Benchmarking and accountability of activities

Do these points look familiar? How you overcome them and move forward is a critical decision and implementation.

For more information on our assessments and classes, please visit us at Learning Without Scars.

Know When to Walk Away

Know When to Walk Away

Don Buttrey is the president of Sales Professional Training Inc., a company that offers in-depth skill development for sales professionals and sales support. He has trained thousands of salespeople over 25 years and clearly understands the selling environment of equipment dealers and manufacturers. His curriculum is comprehensive and proven! Don is also the author of “The SELL Process”, a foundational how-to book on effective sales interactions. Today, he answers another tough question: how do you know when to walk away?

Don can be reached at (937) 427-1717  or email donbuttrey@salesprofessionaltraining.comCheck out this website link salesprofessionaltraining.com  for more information – or to purchase online sales training.

QUESTION 4: If a customer is not honest with you on a regular basis and they continue to buy on price only. . . at what point do we walk away from the relationship?

 Don Buttrey: First let me establish the fact that there can be a time to walk away from an account. However, it must be decided strategically with input from the sales professional, sales managers, and appropriate leaders. Many things should be considered: the market situation/economy, other opportunities you have available, inventory levels, how this account might distract us or use up resources we could spend on better business, strength of the competition, if we want the competition to get the volume, etc.

Tactically, before doing anything radical, the salesperson must pre-call plan and set up a good face-to-face with the customer and ask some well-crafted open-ended questions to verify the real situation versus just what it appears on the surface. Ask the hard questions and face the honesty issue head on –but do not argue or accuse. Just get the customer talking and be firm in waiting for answers instead of filling any silence with a bunch of rhetoric or nervous chatter. Ask and shut up. If you have assessed the risk and decided it was worth stirring up the hornet’s nest–ask some blunt, to-the-point questions (but do it in a non-emotional, non-threatening way).

Have a minimum objective for the success of the call based on your decisive strategy. If the customer will not agree to that objective, or refuses to talk and interact honestly (after given plenty of chances to do so), then it may be a good management decision to walk away and not waste your time. Walk from this deal and run to others (prospecting) —-BUT– do not burn any bridges –just back off your sales effort in that account. Mark your calendar for 6-12 months to check in again. Things change. Buyers quit or leave. New owners and leaders come into place.

Note: If, in your strategy, you know there is someone over their head that may be a better contact – devise a plan to call on them. If you decided that you will walk anyway – this may be a good option. Just do it carefully — and you better pre-plan what you will say and how you will say it! Here is another idea: Sometimes having your company’s sales manager (or even the president) call on the customer’s top management is a great way to go over their head without it looking like the salesperson is out of bounds. This will confirm whether it is one person who is not honest –or if it is the culture or way of doing business for the entire customer organization.

To learn more about how to maintain productive relationships with your customers, visit us at Learning Without Scars.

The Critical Importance of Measuring…

The Critical Importance of Measuring…

Today’s guest post, The Critical Importance of Measuring the Customer and Employee Experience, is from Ryan Condon. Ryan is the Co-Founder and CEO of SATISFYD. He has grown from a first-time entrepreneur at 24 years-old, to a business leader with 20+ years of software and service experience. Ryan was an early innovator in Customer Experience (CX) Management and developed a SaaS platform in 2001 to enable clients to gather feedback, resolve customer issues, and drive customer-focused initiatives. The SATISFYD platform provides Customer and Employee experience at every level of an organization and has been used in over 70 countries and 32 different languages. Ryan, his wife Aimee and their family moved from Chicago to Austin in July of 2016 to escape the northern winters and enjoy the outdoors.

Ryan Condon

The Critical Importance of Measuring the Customer and Employee Experience

We are at an interesting and ever-evolving crossroads as it relates to customer and employee experience. Although most believed we were already experiencing a gradual sea change where the importance of physical location on work options was diminishing over time, COVID has forced a more rapid transition to work-from-home/work anywhere opportunities for workers. This sudden change has been challenging for many as they try to adjust to this ‘New Normal.’ Opinions vary from those who think we will never return to working full time in physical locations to those who expect everyone will rush back into a collective space as soon as it is deemed safe.

Regardless of what side of this fence you sit on, we can all agree that things will never be the same. What this exactly means for the future is uncertain, making it critically important that we constantly keep our pulse on the ever-changing sentiment of our prospects, customers, employees, and candidates for employment. While existing employees will most likely stay at their current jobs short-term, they are being presented with new opportunities that do not require a physical presence and may be perceived as less risky to an in-person job. Candidates that you interview are actively listening and evaluating the different approaches organizations are taking to manage through COVID. How these approaches align with candidates’ beliefs and desires will have an important impact on their employment decisions. How is your organization being perceived?

This is a dynamic time

It requires flexibility, forward-thinking, and a willingness to challenge the norms that have made your business successful up until now. Good leaders will attempt to solve these challenges for stakeholders by drawing on years of experience and having a conversation with direct reports. Great leaders will also be sure to collect information from all stakeholders (prospects, customers, employees, and candidates) and constantly make course corrections to their organization as needed. They will also be testing and evaluating the outcome of those changes by continuously listening to feedback from stakeholders.

In these challenging times, it is more important than ever to listen. Those leaders who are able to gather and utilize stakeholder feedback in order to anticipate and adapt to change will have the edge.

We will discuss this more in future blogs.

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