Here’s An Innovative Way To Create Loyalty & To Get ‘Em Coming Back For More!

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!

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com

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The ABC’s Of Account Management

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.

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
MTD Sales Training

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3 Essential Tips For Providing Great Customer Service

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…”

ARRRrrrrrggh!!!*&^$%%&$#$%^!!

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…”

The Truth
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.

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
MTD Sales Training

(Image by Renjith Krishnan)

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Can You Change The Price Only Prospect Into A Good Loyal Client?

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.

The Question
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)

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
MTD Sales Training

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3 Powerful Tips To Create Client Loyalty

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.

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
MTD Sales Training

(Image by Enrique Burgos Garcia)

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Are Your Customers Re-signing or Resigning?

Any customer who buys from you should have the opportunity to purchase your product or service again.

In the real world, this doesn’t always happen. here are some reasons why customers may not carry out repeat business with you and become your loyal customer:

1. Showing no genuine or personal interest. This is the biggest reason why customers leave…apathy by the service provider. You may think you are looking after them, but are you? Really?

2. Poor or slow response to enquiries. Slow service means you simply don’t care. Even if you’re the best quality, people will leave for quicker responses.

3. Product or service unavailability. If they can’t get what they want, when they want it, they’ll go somewhere else.

4. Difficult ordering systems. By making the ordering system hard to decipher, or creating obstacles to the purchase procedure, you are saying you are more important than the customer. Make it easy to do business with you.

5. Impersonal service. Invest in training and coaching your front line people. They create the first, and last, impression of your company.

6. Too many problems in dealing with you. Customers will forgive once. They’ll be annoyed with twice. Three times? Forget it.

7. Too much pressure to buy more. People do not want to be sold to; they want to buy. Become an adviser to them and they are more likely to listen to you. Pressure them and they are more likely to walk away.

8. Poor quality. You think your customer is always looking for cheap? How long will they put up with the lousy quality just to save a few pence?

9. Poor delivery of product or service. We used a company for office products once. Yes…just once. The attitude of the delivery people was awful. We now equate that company with the same attitude as the delivery and set-up people. Never again.

10. Being made to feel unimportant. Just like no.1, if I feel you don’t care about me, I will leave. All customers should feel that doing business with you is a pleasure. Is it with your company.

Your attitude and services will dictate whether you will get repeat business or not. They will either re-sign with you or resign from you. The choice is up to you.

Happy selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

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Build More Than Relationships With Customers

A lot of salespeople say to us that they spend so much time building relationships with prospects, but don’t always get the order.

They ask us ‘If relationships are so important to the sales process, why aren’t we selling every time? Are we wasting our time?’

No, not really. But see it from the customer’s point of view. You’re nice to them. You spend time with them. You show them your experience. You educate them.

And what do they owe you? Nothing, except a massive big ‘thank you’.

The debt that was owed by you being nice has now been paid off.

So, you need to be more assertive than just building the relationship. You need to ascertain the pain and opportunity that your product and service can offer the customer. You need to go deeper than just relationship-building. Seriously, if you were really that good for them, you would be doing business with them, not just gaining their appreciation, acceptance and approval.

Build on the relationship niceties by being professional as well as spending time with them. Be an advisor as well as a friend. Be a consultant to their business as well as an educator. Be a partner and well as being knowledgable.

If you show how your product and service can help them be more productive or profitable, you build more than a debt of gratitude for your help; you build a catalogue of reasons for them to do business with you.

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

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Book Review: What The Customer Wants You To Know, by Ram Charan

Today’s sales conversations seem to revolve more than ever around price.  But, as I’ve said many times before, the customer of yesterday has changed forever.

And today’s buyer wants something different. Price and value are still essential, of course, and today’s customer wants you to know how their business works, so you can make it work better. And guess what; you can’t do that with your traditional sales approach.

This is also the view of Ram Charan, whose book ‘What the Customer wants You to Know’ is part of my sales library, and should be part of yours.

Charan says the heart of the new approach to selling is an intense focus on the prosperity of your customers. No longer do you measure your own success first. Charan suggests that you measure success by how well your customers are doing with your help. So, you take the focus away from selling products and services, and you focus on ways your company can help the customer succeed in ways that are important to that customer.

Charan’s book highlights ways that you and your customer can work together to change the nature of the game in your customer’s industry, based on the value you can help provide. It’s one of the best books I’ve read recently on becoming a trusted partner with your customers, and best of all, it’s packed with tips and ideas on how you can build a relationship that will keep them loyal to you. I’d recommend it for your bookshelf.

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

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Strategies For Keeping Customers Loyal

When I talk to salespeople who have been in the business for a long time, they most often agree that the last two or three years have been the hardest time they have gone through.

The global downturn has hit many salespeople really hard. Yet, there are those who have thrived and prospered during this downturn and kept many of their customers loyal and built good long-term relationships with them. What’s the secret?

There isn’t one! What you need to do is concentrate on how you can increase the costs of them switching to other suppliers and also reduce the chances of having to fight price wars to keep your current customer base.

Here are some ideas:

  • See how your customers use your products or services: Could you link in with how they buy, use and finish with the product, so it doesn’t become a commodity, but an actually benefit to them in the long run?
  • Increase the value of your own time and commitments to them: Are you and your company aligned to the important things that your customer requires? Do you know what they value most in their relationship with you? What’s important to them? Make sure you are performing in areas that will enhance your relationship with the customer.
  • Your customer’s expectations may have changed during the downturn: Are you still serving them to the level that they expect? Talk with the buyers to discuss what extras you can provide to help them hit their business objectives.
  • Get closer to your customer to look for new ways of dealing with current business concerns: A genuine business partnership is built on trust and support. You can build extra value in your customer’s eyes by supporting their business in innovative ways. You need to keep up the differentiation between you and your competition, so that, even if your customer is approached by someone else, the value you offer far outweighs anything they could get elsewhere.

On our sales courses, many people ask for advice on prospecting for new business, getting new clients and getting through to new buyers. Few, if any, ask for suggestions on keeping current customers loyal. It would be good for you to assess your current customers and not get complacent about the quality of service you offer them.

Spend as much time as you can nurturing the relationships with your current customer base. It’s easier than having to prospect for new business because you’ve lost old ones. Keep a close eye on what their main concerns are and you’ll keep your long-term customers happy. And that can only be good for business!

Happy selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

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Build On Customer Loyalty

I was speaking to one of our clients this week about his job role. He’s an account manager. So he manages accounts. Sounds good. Every account we have needs managing.

But his gripe was concerning the fact that he has to spend so much time looking for new business that he seldom has enough time to develop business with his current accounts. He is worried that he’s missing opportunities to develop loyalty with his existing client base.

There’s no doubt that the fastest way to generate revenue is to grow existing accounts.  But most companies seem to spend a lot of time looking for new business, hence leaving poor  account management programmes in place for existing customers.  Often, these programmes are more focused on customer satisfaction than actually getting more business from clients.

I told this account manager that he should be spending more time developing strategies that grow existing revenues with current clients.  They’re the ones who know you and your services best. So, you should be creating real reasons why your existing clients should be interested in doing more business with you, so that their business improves.

Here are some thought-starters.

Make an analysis of which clients buy which products and services from you. Are there some gaps that you should be pursuing? Do you sell products that some clients buy and not others? Is there a market for those other products with existing clients? Do they buy some products or services from other suppliers? There may be opportunities you are missing.

Build loyalty by creating offers only available to current clients. This serves as a kind of loyalty bond, and encourages the client to think of you when they need more products, rather than trying the competition.

Invite them to customer focus groups. An incentive to attend one of these groups could be to help you develop your future products and services, while in return getting better payment terms or closer account management.

Consider building symbiotic buying relationships with the client. This will encourage them to partner with you and will get you deeper into the buying process that they are using when they choose a supplier

Create value through partnering. How many of your customers sell at trade shows and exhibitions? Offer to work with them in setting up the exhibition.Make them look good in their customers’ eyes. Determine how you can increase their expertise in their field. They will start asking you for your advice and listen to your recommendations.

Develop on-line business by using them as a case-study of success in your newsletters. When your client sees their company used in a successful way, they see the relationship with you deepening and you become even closer partners

These approaches will convince your current clients that they made the right decision partnering with you, and you will see customer loyalty increase.

So, spend more time on building loyalty with existing customers as well as looking for new prospects. You know it makes sense!

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

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