Archive for the ‘Customer Relationships’ Category

:30 or less: How to prepare your thirty-second commercial

August 19th, 2014

By: Dave Hiatt, International Training Director, Global Accounts

Think about the last time someone asked you to tell them a little about yourself. Did you stumble? Did you regret how you answered? Did you miss an opportunity to fit in something important?

Sandler Training advises that all professionals – especially salespeople – take time to craft their “thirty-second commercial.”

Thirty-second commercials can be used for prospecting and to introduce yourself at networking events. A great thirty-second commercial does two things, lets a prospect know what you do and answers the question “why is this person and their business relevant to me?”

To be successful, you must quickly relate your product or service to the prospect’s pain and establish how you can help to eliminate that pain and achieve their goals. This is not the time to use buzzwords or to make the conversation all about you. A smart thirty-second commercial is more about the prospect.

Here are the main components of the thirty-second commercial:

  • Opening statement: Quickly and concisely describes you and your company while giving the prospect insight into what your typical client looks like. Knowing this helps them envision themselves as one of your clients. Your thirty-second commercial is not the time to go into detail about the many different products or services you offer.
  • Pain statement: Based on the research and knowledge you’ve gleaned, attempt to address a particular challenge or pain the prospect may be facing. Then begin to move away from the pain and towards pleasure by sharing how you would fix their problem. These will likely be surface pains that may be present in the prospect’s world.
  • Positioning statement: This is your chance to give the prospect a clear reason why they might be interested in what you have to offer. Let the prospect know what differentiates your product/service from others.
  • Provide value: Conclude your thirty-second commercial by answering their question “what’s in it for me?”
  • Contact information: If appropriate, make it easy for the prospect to get in touch with you after you go your separate ways.

Share your tips for perfecting the thirty-second commercial in the comments below.

6 Ways to Improve Customer Service

July 1st, 2014

By: Dave Hiatt, International Training Director, Global Accounts

You know good customer service when you experience it. It’s hard to explain at times when it’s not so great, but it’s easy to recognize when a customer service agent has gone above and beyond to make sure you’re satisfied.

At some point, every day, everyone is a customer. A good customer service experience is something that everyone can relate to – so what is it that makes for an exquisite customer service touchpoint?

Because of word-of-mouth and social media, companies can’t afford to provide less than stellar customer service. Sandler Training teaches companies how to focus on the fundamentals of customer service due its direct impact on the bottom line.

Whether you’re in B2C or B2B sales, the following tips are tried and true and will help your company reap the rewards that come with exceptional customer care.

  • Ask questions upfront. From the very beginning of a customer relationship, it’s crucial to know exactly what’s expected. This allows for you to manage expectations and also gauge what your customer will consider a success. If you’ve heard Sandler mention the “upfront contract” you know it all starts at this step.
  • Listen to your customer. When a customer speaks, you should be listening. This is when you’ll discover their pain and identify where you’ll really be able to make an impact and move the needle for their business. Additionally, sometimes a customer just needs an outside opinion to ‘hear them.’ This is when you’ll establish that trusting relationship salespeople long for.
  • Communicate regularly. A good business practice is to always be ahead of your customer. They should never be wondering when they’ll be hearing from you. Make it your practice to establish regular communications. And if there’s a particular situation that needs tending to, make sure you’re on top of the need and communicating accordingly. Remember, you’re there to make their job easier and more efficient.
  • Be sincere. This should without saying, but you’re efforts and communications with your customers should be nothing short of sincere. Take a moment and put yourself in their shoes, if it’s important and pressing to them then make sure they know you understand their concerns and needs. Then, do your best to provide solutions to remedy the problem.
  • Request feedback. A customer likes to be heard – and why shouldn’t they? They’re paying for a service and want to be handled to their liking. Insist that they rate you and give their feedback so that you can better service their needs. This is mutually beneficial as you’ll grow as a professional and they’ll likely continue to do business with you.
  • Keep a long-term mindset. There’s no quick fix when it comes to customer service. Companies that thrive invest in long-term training that the tackles behaviors, attitudes and techniques that are essential to customer service.

Customer service has often been called the “frontline” of an organization. When executed properly, a happy customer will share their positive experience which will ultimately lead to referrals and positive word-of-mouth marketing. What are some of your customer service best practices?

Close the Sale or Close the File

June 18th, 2014

By: John Rosso, Sandler Training by Peak Performance Management, Inc.

If you’ve heard the any of the following statements from prospects, then keep reading to learn more about how to determine when to walk away and when to continue investing time and energy.

  • “I need to confer with other managers here.”
  • “I need more time to decide.”
  • “Call me in about a month.”

If you’re selling, you’ve likely heard these and other variations of the put off and the postpone. You’ve turned yourself into a wolf hound that pursues and pursues until you get your teeth into the meat. Come what may, you’ve been determined to close the sale no matter what. Nice intention. Poor approach.

Why is this a poor approach? Because these responses are just another way of saying, “No.” And “no” 30 days from now is still the same as “no” today. If you settle for these responses, you’re letting your pursuit instinct take the lead from your thinking mind.

The first thing you should do when you hear ‘no’ in any of its myriad forms is to ask a question. For example, “I may be missing something here, but could you let me know why you want to postpone rather than decide now on a next step?”

If a prospect then tries to wriggle out of a straight answer, or says some form of “no” response, this tells you he or she isn’t going to budge. The message is: “I’m not willing to invest time, energy,or resources with you.” And if that’s the case, it’s time to close the file. What you agree to next will bounce you down into the sales limbo of hope. When you’re there, nothing positive will happen for you no matter what you say or do.

This doesn’t mean that any and every prospect request for a postponement will result in a no. You may be calling when a company is caught up in a crisis of some kind. In situations like these, you may want to agree with a request to postpone. However, before doing so establish a few rules:

  • Find realistic, compatibility with your prospect. You and the prospect have at least agreed on this.
  • Agree to a timeline. If you agree to a postponement, the date of your next meeting should be pinned down to an exact date and time.
  • Don’t settle for non-committal words. Wishy-washy words from the client like “probably” or “maybe won’t do – they lack sincerity and won’t move the sale forward.

If the conversation follows these rules, then agree to a postponement. Just remember that anything less will slide you into the sales limbo of hope, where you’ll waste your time and energy instead of doing your job of closing sales.

Ask “Why?” Five Times

May 29th, 2014

There’s something to be said about children who continue to ask “why” about everything. When they ask and you respond, and they ask “Why?” again, it means they don’t have the complete answer to their question. They will continue to ask until they understand the entire concept or until the adult gets frustrated.

In business, asking “Why?” five times can produce the same quality understanding to prepare for better results.

Common complaints we hear often in business:

“Sales wants more quality leads from marketing. The leads we currently receive from marketing don’t convert to clients.”

We may want to respond with a demand from the team:

“Get more leads for my business!” instead of trying to determine “Why” leads are currently slim.

We start on the surface by asking:

  • “Why don’t current leads convert?”
  • After a bit of blaming back and forth, the company drills down to the answer: “Because the majority of prospects we receive from marketing already have a solution in place and do not have a want or need for change.”

    Instead of making assumptions, we can drill down by asking “Why?” again:

  • “Why do we attract leads that already have a solution in place?”
  • The answer: “Because our advertisement language is promoting free information on a popular industry concept, not specifically a product benefit or value.”

    Going even further we question our practices again:

  • “Why are we promoting free information on a concept, not the product?”
  • The answer: “Because targeted advertising space for a new client base is expensive and out of our budget range.”

    Asking “Why?” a fourth time produces an even stronger response:

  • “Why is advertising space out of our budget range?”
  • The answer: “Because we spend a significant portion of the company’s revenue on expanding the capabilities of the operation.”

    And finally, we see the root cause of the problem:

  • “Why have we allocated a significant portion of the company’s operating budget to operations?”

The answer: “To plan for future growth.”

Today, this company’s bottleneck may appear, at first sight, to be the marketing team’s ability to attract leads. But asking why five times uncovers the underlying weakness. The company has made a decision to allocate what may be too many funds to one department. This has shifted the company’s bottleneck from operations to sales and marketing.

Without leads, there are no sales. Without sales, there is no revenue. Without revenue, there is no company.

In this case, as with many other scenarios, it’s easy to blame departments and processes on the surface. Rest assured, you’ll understand the bigger, clearer picture if you ask “Why?” five times.

Voicemails: Old School or Still Appropriate? Results May Vary.

February 24th, 2014

Like it or not, times have changed and the usefulness of a voicemail is up for debate. With email, text messages and Caller ID, some people find it irritating to see that they have a blinking red light or a notification alerting them to check their voicemail. And as sales professionals, the last thing we’re trying to do is annoy a prospect or current client.

Above all, I recommend trying to establish a rapport voice to voice if possible. (Of course, face to face is best, but not always an option in our business.) Try calling the contact at different times of the day – first thing, mid-day, after 5 p.m. – on different days to catch them on the phone. Careful though, with Caller ID you need to make sure you’re not over-doing it.

The following are questions to ask yourself when trying to make contact with a business connection.

1. Have I ever met this person before? If the answer is no, then I highly recommend not leaving a voicemail as the efficacy is practically diminished. If you’ve tried calling and feel defeated on that front, then leave a brief message that includes your name, company, number and a compelling, emotional reason for them to want to call you back. (Max voicemail time: 30 seconds.)

2. Have I been referred to this person by a mutual connection? If a friend or contact has made an introduction for you and there’s an identifiable connection between the two of you, then it’s acceptable to leave a brief voicemail.

3. Have I left a voicemail for this person already with a response? I recommend hanging up and continuing to try to reach the person on a phone call or consider other means of connecting.

4. Is the information I need to convey better for an email? If a complex subject matter needs to be shared and a phone call can’t take place, then send an email. No one wants a 3-minute voicemail that they need to repeat two or three times to understand.

5. Have I considered the age of the person I’m trying to reach? The more I work with the younger generations, the more I understand them. If you’re able to identify a contact’s age through LinkedIn or other means, then take that into consideration. What I’ve seen is that the 35 and younger crowd are more likely to be irritated by a voicemail, while the 35 and older crowd still rely on this as an effective form of communication. But, there are always exceptions to the rule. One thing everyone agrees on – a phone call is the fastest way to do business and move a conversation forward.

6. Should I text them? This is tricky and largely subjective. Just because you have a contact’s cell phone number doesn’t mean they want to receive a text message from you. I never recommend using this form of communication on a prospect. When it comes to a current client, only send a text when they’ve open the door to this and encouraged you to text them. No exceptions.

Now I’m curious to know your style when it comes to receiving voicemails? Comment below.

By: Dave Hiatt, International Training Director, Global Accounts at Sandler Training

Old Clients, New Business

October 1st, 2013

A mistake too many salespeople make is not keeping in touch with former clients. It’s not uncommon for past clients to come to a point where they need your product or service again but don’t remember how to get in touch with you. They are more likely to have your competitors’ information handy. (Your competitors are still calling on your client even though you are not).

The odds of obtaining business from a former client are typically better than the odds of obtaining business from cold prospecting. So, keeping in touch with former clients is not only the professional thing to do, it also makes good business sense.

“Keeping in touch” doesn’t mean pestering them – pushing for a sale. It simply means letting them know that you are still there, ready to provide service when necessary. This can be accomplished in various ways: a regularly scheduled phone call – just to say “hello;” a monthly or quarterly newsletter about industry events and trends; or a monthly e-mail regarding new products or services. Don’t try to overwhelm your client; just make it easy for them to find you.

Are Your Customers Buying from Your Company or Your Salesperson?

October 10th, 2012

The good and bad of relationship-based sales.

The Good

Relationship-based sales methods are ideal. Most of the time those relationships are the only thing protecting you from competing solely on price. In sales training, we have a saying: “All things being equal, people buy from people they like. All things being unequal, people still buy from people they like.” (more…)

Your Knowledge is Worthless… Until Someone Pays You For It.

October 2nd, 2012

In regards to your business, the expertise you have gained over the years is completely worthless… until someone gives you money for it. If you have a medical doctorate, all you really have is a bunch of student loans until you have patients, and get paid for your knowledge. (more…)