Part 1 of this blog post discussed the importance of focusing on existing customers to help weather the economic storm. Today, we take a closer look at how your sales team is focused.
I was inspired to write this by a post at Jim Kukral’s blog about how one bad salesperson can destroy your brand. In a video post, Jim shares his sad story about a salesperson who didn’t seem to understand Jim’s need to shop around before committing for a big-ticket item (you’ll have to go over and watch the video to find out which store he dissed and which one he ended up buying from). Here’s an idea of what Jim said:
“I don’t care what discounts or coupons they may have in the future. One employee, with one horrible sales tactic and personality destroyed their brand for me. That’s how easy it is to do.”
What is Sales Focused On?
Take a look at your sales force. It may be a crew of sales people staffing a retail store. It may be your channel partners working to incorporate your product or service into their offering. It may just be one person and a phone. Regardless of how your sales team looks, most likely they are focused on making sales, as they should be. But what are they focused on when they are trying to make their numbers?
When I worked as director of marketing for HP in the UK and Ireland, we had several sales teams, each targetting different groups of enterprise (commercial) customers. As marketing, we partnered closely with sales to help them understand the needs of the various customer groups and how they differed. The most successful sales teams were those who used their understanding of those customer needs to change their sales approach to one that was totally focused on helping make it easier to do business with HP for that customer.
In Jim’s example of a salesperson that turned him off, the salesperson was more focused on pressuring Jim to get an immediate sale than he was on helping Jim meet his needs. This self-focus, rather than customer-focus, drove Jim away, and the sale was made elsewhere. I had a similar experience last summer when we were trying to buy a new truck, but this one was a poor experience with the dealership itself (and an unmotivated, yet professional, salesperson). The dealership and sales team seemed to be more focused on what was convenient for them rather then what was convenient for a potential buyer.
Do You Want My Business?
Times are tough. Competition is fierce. Customers have high expectations. With all of these factors in play, businesses can’t afford to treat their customers with anything other than respect and great customer service. If you aren’t sure whether you want your customer’s business or not, take a step back and look at it from their perspective. Here are some tips to make sure you are ready to meet and exceed customer expectations.
- Hire a mystery shopper to check out all aspects of your customer’s buying experience. Notice I didn’t say your sales experience; again, you need to look at it from the other side of the table!
- Talk to customers who have purchased from you recently. How was their experience? Were their needs met? What could have been better? You might not want to hear all the answers, but if customers aren’t happy, they probably won’t keep buying from you. Even worse, they could say bad things about you to others.
- Get your best customers to come in and meet with you and your sales team (or do it via phone conference). It gets sales teams all jazzed up to hear positive feedback from customers, and you will get ideas on what works in your customer’s buying experience.
- Create customer profiles of different customer groups and their needs. Make sure your sales team understands how they are unique and how their sales approach should change in each instance.
- Train sales in WOW customer service and relationship building techniques. Customers should be viewed as people, not transactions.
Too much to think about? Simply put yourself in your customer’s shoes and take one step at a time.
(Photo credit: LatinPoint)