So I’ve arrived in Prague on business, get into a taxi outside the airport and the first thing I see is this advert on the back of the drivers and passenger seat.
It’s an advert for 47% off my fare if I call the business card instead of getting the hotel to arrange a taxi for me. The taxi driver makes a note of the fare when you get out, writes it on the back of business card and then signs it.
When you call the taxi firm you hand the card to the driver and that’s the fare you pay.
I loved the concept!
There’s a couple of things here.
Firstly it stuck in my mind.
Why 47%? Why not 50%? It made the offer memorable and hence it stuck.
Next, it was promoting loyalty. i.e “you use us and we will give you a heavily discounted fare”
The lesson is simple with this one…
What offers can you make your clients that are unusual and get them coming back for more?
When they have purchased or used your products and services can you offer them anything else to ensure that they stick with you?
Who knows, it could be an easy add on sale!
MTD Sales Training
No introduction or explanation needed here. I am just going to give it to you simple, brief and straight. Follow these A B C s of account management, and you will grow your business!
A – Advise
If you really did your job in closing the sale, then you were able to elevate yourself from the position of sales person, to the level of professional consultant, solutions provider and trusted advisor.
During the sales process, you were a great advisor; you uncovered problems and exposed areas of pain and need. You then advised the client on the best way to solve the problem. However, immediately after the sale, your advice stopped.
Continue to advise your clients. I am not saying that you need to create multifaceted business plans and directives for free. However, a simple email or a brief telephone call with a tip here and there, can make all the difference.
“Hi Mary, I just wanted to let you know that there is a user’s convention next month and one of the main topics is using software solutions such as the one we installed for you. I would like to suggest that you send a few of your managers there as it will help them…”
Continue to be an industry expert and leader. Continue to consult and advise.
B – Build
Continue to build on the relationship. Provide additional services or become a liaison to other services. Make your clients aware that they can call you for other things aside from what you sell. You have many clients in many different industries. Let your clients know that you are a wealth of referrals. You are a veritable trove of information and they can call you for more than what you have in your portfolio.
C – Care
Before you pocketed the commission, this customer was the most important thing in your life. You were deeply concerned with helping them solve a problem. Then, after the sale, do you feel the same way? Let the client know that you genuinely care.
Do not underestimate the value of the unexpected telephone call or the quick email that simply asks, “How have you been?”
Contact your clients occasionally when you are NOT trying to sell anything! When customers feel that the only time they ever hear from you is when you want more money, you are not cultivating a relationship.
Follow the ABCs…Advise. Build. Care.
MTD Sales Training
Providing unparalleled customer service, and after the-sale service, in today’s marketplace, is essential in maintaining customer loyalty. Today’s modern and educated buyer demands more for less, and is always aware of alternative options, including alternative vendors and competitive offers.
Check it Out
Following are three mission critical points for providing good customer service. Although these tips may seem obvious, do not take them for granted. Check your internal processes and procedures.
#1: Can You Hear Me Now?
You must make it easy for your customers to be heard. The customer has to have the ability to quickly SPEAK TO A REAL LIVE PERSON! Having a problem is one thing, but when the customer cannot even get to a LIVE person to explain their problem, it creates a frustration and often an anger that has the customer saying things about you and your company that I cannot even print!
Listen, I don’t care what you think about your super-duper-smart-voice-recognition-software, voice-mail technology. Whatever you do, please, make it EASY for clients to talk to a real person, at least during your normal business hours.
#2: A Little Understanding
Now finally, after 25 extremely frustrating minutes of getting the run around with automated systems that made no sense, the customer gets a live person on the telephone. However, that person immediately informs the customer that problem for which they are calling about is something that is a simple, and in fact is actually the customer’s fault in the first place!
Look, as professional sales people, we all know that the customer is NOT always right. However, you don’t have to slap them in the face when they are wrong, either. Train customer service people to have some sensitivity.
#3: That’s Not My Job
The customer navigates a nightmare maze of automated messages and incorrect links that take them around and around in circles for 25 minutes. Finally, they actually get to the exact department they were directed to, and, unbelieving; they reach a HUMAN in that department!
However, that human, almost proudly, informs the weary customer…
“I’m sorry, but that’s not my department.” Or, “I can’t help you…”
Do not force customers to have to FIND the right person to solve their problem. YOU find the right person for them. Make sure no one ever answers a customer grievance by saying, “I’m sorry, Ms Customer, but that is not my job or department…”
Instead, “Ms Customer, I am so sorry to hear you are having a problem. Although, I cannot handle this or fix it for you personally, I am going to get the right person to help you get this solved right now. Just hold on a moment, and I will connect you to the best person to solve this problem…”
I know that to provide such customer service costs money. I know that it takes a lot of work, training, and effort. In my opinion, such service is not an option. It is what we do.
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(Image by Renjith Krishnan)
In a recent post, “4 Powerful Reasons To Walk Away From The Price ONLY Prospect,” I detailed how and why you need to walk away from that POP (Price Only Prospect). That is the prospect who cares nothing about service, value, or even reputation and is only concerned with, “How much?”
Even if you give away your shirt to close such prospects, usually they turn out to be nightmare clients, constantly demanding more for less and ready to dump you for a lower price at moment’s notice.
Recently, a few readers have asked if it is possible to close that POP, and then, in time, turn the customer into a profitable and loyal account. So, here is my take on trying to turn a lump of goal into a diamond.
Turning the Frog into a Prince
While it may be possible to turn the POP around into a customer that is able to see value in things other than the price, I don’t believe it will ever be worth the time and risk to try.
POPs do often change into value driven prospects. However, it is usually the result of an extremely negative situation. Something happens that hurts the prospect and becomes the motivating factor for change.
As an example, the POP haggles until he gets the rock bottom price for a particular product, passing up the higher priced models. Then, the lower priced brand proves to end up costing the POP far more money than the cost of the higher value products. In short, the POP eventually experiences the age-old adage that you get what you pay for. However, the motivating factor for change is usually something bad.
Added Value Increases the Problem
Second, you may be thinking that if you close that POP and then begin to demonstrate the true value to him or her, then it would open their eyes. Actually, it is the reverse.
The POP dragged you down to the lowest possible price. You caved in, took the bait and closed the sale. You now deliver service and value that is far above what the prospect paid for. Your hope is the prospect will realise that product was indeed worth a lot more. Therefore, the next time you make an offer, the prospect will understand that your pricing is fair.
That sounds good. But it does not work.
This prospect will instead think, “Wow, I got a great deal…I wonder how much lower I could have gotten the price?” I bargained for the lowest price and it paid off…I got a great deal…I’ll do even better this time!”
By you adding more value to the low price, the POPs understanding and appreciation will actually diminish, not grow.
Stand firm. Stand for value and you cannot loose.
(Image by Nick J Webb)
MTD Sales Training
In today’s marketplace of shrinking budgets, growing competition and modern, sophisticated buyers, establishing stronger client loyalty is not easy. There always stands a competitor ready to offer lower prices and higher value, while buyers are also looking to play companies off one another in search of the best deal.
It should be obvious to anyone in business today, that to establish true customer loyalty takes a lot more than the old price, product and performance formula. You have to be more, supply more and represent more than what you sell. You have to be more than a sales person. You must become a partner!
#1 – Make Contact for the Customer’s Benefit
After the sale, most buyers know that there are at least two times that they are guaranteed to hear from their sales representative: When the sales person wants some referrals, references or when they want to sell something else.
For effective account management, you need to contact your clients at times other than when you want or need something. Contact them when just to be of service. Send an email just asking if you can help with something…anything. Send an article about something that may help or be of interest to the client. Contact the client on issues that have nothing to do with YOU and where you are looking for absolutely nothing in return.
“Hi Steve, I hope all has been well. I came across this article the other day and thought of you. I remember you mentioned that you had some issues with employee turnover and thought you might benefit from the information…”
Just make yourself available. Let the customer know that you are there all the time, and not only when you want their money.
#2 – Become a Liaison for Everything
Let your customers know that they can contact you for needs that have nothing to do with your profession. Inform your clients that you are a resource for them, a conduit for all types of products and services, and they can call you for almost anything they need.
Help clients stay aware that although you sell a particular product or service, that you have clients and contacts in a variety of different industries. Let them know that when they have a need, not to pick up the telephone directory or run to the internet, instead to call you!
“Gladys, I am so glad I was able to help you with your banking needs for your practice. However, please keep in mind that I have contacts in all sorts of businesses and you can contact me for almost anything you need. In fact, you once mentioned you were having some issues with your payroll system. Well, the manager of XYZ Payroll is one of my clients and…”
#3 – Continue to Sell
Finally, in maintaining customer loyalty, continue to sell your product or service. I am not talking about selling additional products and services, which you obviously will do. I mean continue to sell that which you have already sold. Continue to sell and exemplify the problem solving benefits of what the client has already bought.
By continuing to sell the product, you help to reinforce that the client’s buying decision was a good one, and is still paying off. Therefore, you are still a good investment. In addition, buyer’s remorse can set in long after the purchase. Keep selling after the sale.
Price is Irrelevant
When you can achieve success in the three above areas, you will have become a business resource for the client, an advisor, a partner. At this point, the price you charge for your products or services becomes inconsequential, as you represent so much more. Your competition can come in and low-ball the rates, but it will not matter.
Don’t just show up when you want something.
Become a resource or referral source for everything.
Continue to sell the sold.
Good clients are hard to get these days. Keep them.
MTD Sales Training
(Image by Enrique Burgos Garcia)