The 7 Cs of Customer Service

Every client contact has the potential for selling, even if it’s just selling how good you are at customer service. Here are my thoughts, my 7 Cs of Customer Service, on how to keep sales closed, and to keep clients long-term.

All of our research has shown that the people who will stay in business and prosper through the next decade are people that live seven words. If you take these seven C-words and make each one a part of your make-up and a part of your daily business, you’ll not only prosper, but you will build that wonderful referral base we are all after.

The first C stands for Concern. I think people want to know that you are more concerned with serving them, helping them, and that they are happy, and want a long term relationship with you than you are with making the sale and getting the check. They want to feel that concern and many people in sales don’t get the dollar signs out of their eyes. If a person feels you need the sale and they feel pressure to purchase a product they’re not ready to commit to, they will fight you because they want your concern. [Read more…]

How to Keep Clients Happy

Mastering selling skills to gain new clients is one thing. Learning how to keep clients happy is another. If you’ve been in sales longer than six months, you have probably already learned that clients can be quite fickle. The reality of selling is that buyers can change their minds about doing business with you rather easily and often will at the slightest temptation.

This is where the value you bring to them makes all the difference. When you become not just a salesperson but a valued asset, you make it more challenging for them to replace you.

You see, you don’t just get people involved in your products. You build relationships with them. You, in essence, become part of their team–someone dedicated to helping them cut costs, provide better service, or whatever to their clients.  When you bring them the latest industry news or can have a non-selling conversation about the future of the industry, you’re not just a salesperson. You’re that industry expert they learn to rely on. And, there’s a lot of value in having those relationships–often enough value to keep your company off the chopping block if and when cost-cutting measures are put in place.

When clients are unhappy, they’re constantly comparing your product, the money and your level of service to that of the competition. As a business owner myself, I understand the value of keeping an eye on the hard costs of doing business. As a long-term business owner, I also appreciate the extra value that is often provided by some of our long-term suppliers–and prefer to keep doing business with them versus “shopping around.”

For a few other ideas on how to keep clients happy, watch my YouTube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEWTC0GjzsU

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

The Buyer’s Mindset

As a sales professional, it’s critical that you put everything else out of your mind when approaching buyers and focus on the buyer’s mindset.

When put into a sales scenario, the buyer’s mindset subconsciously shifts, asking important questions which must be answered before they are comfortable moving ahead with the sales process. Because this is a subconscious process, we know that it is always at work. We can count on it. More than that, we can make it our ally.

How often have you heard yourself, or others saying the words, “I’m just looking” when approached by a salesperson? It doesn’t matter what the buyer’s individual personality style may be, this is a universal, knee-jerk reaction because of the mindset change we all undergo when a sales scenario starts.

We are thinking,

  1. “I don’t need you, your product or service;”
  2. “I don’t have any reason to trust what you have to say;”
  3. “I don’t need any help to determine if you have a product or service that interests me;” and
  4. “I’m in no hurry to make a decision.” So, basically, “Let me shop by myself, thank you.”

One of those four thoughts will be the starting point in most sales situations you encounter. Once you understand that and work from that point of view, you will more quickly reduce sales resistance and increase sales acceptance.

The following four words, and the questions they bring to your customer’s mind, control every sales situation: Need, Trust, Help, Hurry.

Here’s how.

NEED

 “I feel no need.” Your goal as a one-call closer is to help them change their mindset to one of “I feel some need.”

TRUST

“I feel no trust.” No one will let you persuade them to do or own anything if they don’t trust you. So, you must work toward helping them think, “I feel some trust.”

HELP

“I want no help.” No one ever wants to admit they’re helpless. However, you can certainly help someone see that you can provide answers in areas where they may not be as educated as you are. After all, you are a trained professional in your field. So, you need to change their mindset to one of “I want some help.” And, that you are the one I want to have help me.

HURRY

“I feel no hurry.” Your job is to help them see that by taking care of the buying decision today, they’ll be better off than if they wait. They need to think, “I feel some hurry” in order to take action. It’s your job to create urgency.

It is extremely important that you learn how these four very specific words help define your potential client’s sales resistance. They are the primary barrier between “no sale” and “sale.” They are the main line of defense. They will keep you from providing the prospective client the very product or service they agreed to talk over with you and/or need the most.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. Excerpted from Sell It Today, Sell It Now.

 

Never Wing It with Voicemail

Voicemail. It’s a wonderful way of capturing messages when we’re busy doing something where we just don’t want to have to jump to answer the phone, isn’t it? Before voicemail (and answering machines), we just missed out on information or opportunities.

For those of us in sales, the advent of voicemail is both a blessing and a curse, isn’t it? It allows us to leave important messages for our clients. It allows us to keep in touch without actually investing a lot of time chatting with the Chatty Cathy’s and Talkative Tom’s of the world. And, (the curse part) it allows the Evasive Ed’s and Indecisive Ida’s of the world to practice avoidance at the champion level.

Where we run into challenges–where voicemail just doesn’t seem to serve us all that well–is when we don’t properly prepare to use it well. You may think I’m a nit-picker, but I truly believe that any little nuance of selling that isn’t analyzed and used to its highest value could be costing you and me sales.

Understand this: Every client contact is a sales presentation. Read that line again.

You wouldn’t wing it when presenting your product or service, would you? Of course not. You’re a pro! You prepare like one.

Then, why would you not invest a couple of minutes in preparing what you will say in case you have to leave a message when calling a client or potential client? You may have a plan for what you’ll say and the goal of a conversation with that client. But what’s your goal when your “conversation” has to be one-sided because they don’t pick up? What will you say to get them interested enough in speaking with you that they’ll either return your call, meet you somewhere, or pick up the next time you call? And when will that be?

Do yourself a favor and set a goal for every client contact and then prepare accordingly. Develop the questions you need to ask in order to get the answers you want. Be prepared for that one-sided conversation with the client’s voicemail and you’ll start having more two-sided conversations because you provided value or piqued their curiosity and suggested what they should do next rather than winging it with something like, “This is Bob Smith. I was hoping to talk with you. I’ll call back another time.” That’s what winging it sounds like.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

Blog Survey Results

042BZC01Our blog survey results are in!

Recently, we decided to use our own strategy of asking just a couple of survey questions of our clients to get some feedback … possibly on how to change course in our direction and serve them better with this blog. We asked three questions, but rather than limiting the answers to one per question, we offered multiple options, which provided a ton of information. And, we included a comments/suggestions option for those who wanted to expand upon their multiple-choice answers.

Our first question was “What day of the week would you prefer to see a new blog post?” The largest percentage of respondents (33%) chose Monday. We had been posting on the blog on Tuesdays. Only 5% of our blog subscribers chose that day. Hmm. Looks like we missed the boat on serving the majority, didn’t we? We are re-vamping our blog postings … and guess which day of the week we will now be posting?

Our second question was about content. “Which topics would you most like to see covered?” The percentages were pretty close for “Addressing Concerns/Handling Objections,” and “Prospecting.” Running at third place was the topic of “Presentations.” As we move forward with our blog editorial calendar you’ll see more of those topics covered.

Our third question was about whether or not to continue with guest blog posts. We had been including them on the last Tuesday of the month for a while, but noticed a low rate of response to them. (Reference our first question results above.) Our respondents overwhelmingly enjoy the guest posts (79%) because they know I only include posts from people I trust in the training world. I will continue to request posts from others speakers, authors and trainers that I know.

The greatest wealth of information gained from the blog post survey were suggestions for 33 topics for new content! I can’t thank the respondents enough for this input. It’s easy to sit here and say, “We haven’t covered this … or that” but to know for certain what our clients need does what, Champions? It tells us what they want to “own,” doesn’t it?

When is the last time you’ve conducted a survey of your clients? If it’s been a while, it’s time to develop a simple survey that you can do by phone, in person or via email. Use a mix of open and closed questions to gather information … and don’t overwhelm yourself by sending it to 50,000 clients. If you have a large number of clients, break them down into smaller groups and ask questions specific to their use of your product or service. You’ll get better information.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

How I Built Rapport with Members of Hell’s Angels

I think most salespeople will agree that building rapport is one of the most critical skills a sales pro can develop. Since we work with many different types of clients, we have to think on the run, including the time I built rapport with members of Hell’s Angels.

Don’t you wish we could know about the people we could be serving before we meet them? Wouldn’t it be great if we could just know a couple of things about them in advance so we could prepare our opening lines? Well, that’s rarely the case in sales. Especially in the field of real estate, you never know what you’ll find behind the doors of even the most beautiful homes.

One of the most dramatic examples of needing to make a good first impression happened after about my third year in real estate. At this point, I had finally turned my dismal career around and was doing pretty well. I was wearing the latest style of men’s clothing and driving a brand new Cadillac. The Cadillac was THE real estate car of the 60’s. It was long, sleek and just beautiful. [Read more…]

Questions for Building Common Ground

closed saleSince I teach the importance of establishing common ground with potential clients, I’m often asked for suggestions of topics. Because of that, I’ve generated a simple list of questions for building common ground to share. Use whatever is appropriate for your type of sales situation or simply use these questions as models for developing your own.

Here are a few subjects to give you an idea of how building common ground can begin.

Job Related:

  • Tell me a bit about your job.
  • Tell me what you do for a living.
  • What’s your occupation?
  • What do you like most/least about your work?
  • How long have you been doing this?
  • What’s the most interesting part of your job?
  • What gives you the greatest amount of satisfaction at work?

Child Related:

  • Do you have any kids?
  • Do you have any children?
  • What are their names?
  • How old are they?
  • I bet you’re proud of him/her/them.
  • What interests are they developing?
  • What do they do for fun?

Family Related:

  • Are you married? 
  • Been married long?
  • Where do you folks live?
  • Did you go on a honeymoon? Oh, where?
  • Where does he/she work?
  • What do you folks do for recreation?
  • Do you share any hobbies?

Location Related:

  • Are you from around here?
  • Where are you from?
  • What do you like most about living in your town?
  • Have you traveled much?
  • What is the most fun thing to do in your area?
  • What three things would you recommend a tourist to see first?

All of this information isn’t gathered just to be discarded. You’ll use much of it later in the sales process. I could go on and on with this, but you get the idea. You want to be friendly and to encourage the other person to be friendly. Don’t treat these questions as a checklist you have to march through like Sherman to the sea during the Civil War. Your goal is conversation not conquest.

Also, avoid the trap of droning on about any given subject. Getting overly involved in the topic of conversation will cut out valuable time you’ll need for getting down to business and making your presentation. Just find the commonality. Establish it. Make sure your customer is comfortable with it. And at the appropriate moment, move on.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. and Pat Leiby

Sending Thank You Notes

I learned the value and power of sending thank you notes early in life.

A Lesson from Mom

When I was a young child, my parents occasionally went out with friends for dinner. Invariably, when my parents returned from an evening out, I saw my mother sit down at her little desk in the hallway as soon as she got home and begin to write.

One night I asked her what she was doing. Her answer came straight out of Emily Post: “We had such a wonderful time with our dear friends this evening that I want to jot them a note to thank them for their friendship and the wonderful dinner.”

My mother’s simple act of gratitude, expressed to people who already knew that she and my father appreciated and enjoyed their friendship, helped to keep my parents’ friendships strong for their entire lifetimes.

Having an Attitude of Gratitude

Because I understood that building relationships is what selling is all about, I began early in my career to send thank you notes to people. In fact, I set a goal to send ten thank you notes every day. That goal meant that I had to meet and get the contact information for at least ten people every day. I sent thank you notes to people I met briefly, people I showed properties to, people I talked with on the telephone, and people I actually helped to own new homes. I became a thank you note fool.

And guess what happened?

By the end of my third year in sales, my business was 98% by referral! The people I had expressed gratitude to were happy to send me new clients as a reward for making them feel appreciated and important.

How to Express Appreciation

I understand that you may not be comfortable at first with starting the Thank You note habit. The trick is to keep the notes short and simple. A thank you note is not a dissertation.

To help you get started (aka eliminate any excuses) I invested time writing out ten situations in which sending a Thank You note is appropriate. Then, to help you even more, I’ve drafted the notes for you. Use my words until writing thank you notes becomes so natural to you that you can dash one off in less than a minute.

1. Telephone contact Thank you for talking with me. In today’s business world, time is precious. You can rest assured that I will always be respectful of the time you invest as we discuss the possibility of serving your needs.

2. In Person Contact Thank you. It was a pleasure meeting you, and my thank you is for the time we shared. We have been fortunate to serve many happy clients, and it is my wish to some day be able to serve you. 

3. After Demonstration or Presentation Thank you for giving me the opportunity to discuss your upcoming needs with you. We would be honored to serve your needs now and into the future. We believe that quality, blended with excellent service, is the foundation for a successful business.

4. After Purchase Thank you for giving me the opportunity to offer you our finest service. We are confident that you will be happy with your new ______. My goal is now to offer excellent follow-up service so you will have no reservations about referring others to me who have similar needs as yours.

5. For a Referral Thank you for your kind referral of John and Mary Smith. You may rest assured that anyone you refer to me will receive the highest degree of professional service possible.

6. After Final Refusal Thank you for taking your time to consider letting me serve you. It is with sincere regret that I was currently unable to assist you. However, if you need further information or have any questions, please feel free to call. I will be happy to keep you posted on new developments and changes that may benefit you.

7. After They Buy From Someone Else Thank you for taking your time to  consider our product and service. I regret being unable, at this time, to prove to you the benefits we have to offer. I will keep in touch with the hope that in the years ahead we will be able to do business.

8. After They Buy From Someone Else, But Offer to Give You Referrals Thank you for your gracious offer of giving me referrals. As we discussed, I am enclosing three of my business cards. I thank you in advance for placing them in the hands of three of your friends, acquaintances, or relatives that I might serve. I will keep in touch and be willing to render my services as needed.

9. To Anyone Who Gives You Service Thank you. It is gratifying to meet someone dedicated to doing a good job. Your efforts are sincerely appreciated. If my company or I can serve you in any way, please don’t hesitate to call.

10. Anniversary Thank You Thank you. It is with warm regards that I send this note to say hello and again, thanks for your past patronage. Please call me with any questions you have about your ________ or the latest advancements in our newer models.

Personally, I believe the hand-written note, posted in the mail is the most powerful. But, if that truly doesn’t work for you,  it’s better to send the message via email than not at all. Ideally, you will get the note off within 24 hours of meeting with the people.

The power of expressed gratitude is immense. Put this tool to work for you today!

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.   800-528-0446   info@tomhopkins.com
For reprint permission, contact Judy Slack – judys@tomhopkins.com.

6 Reasons People Don’t Buy from You

Seasoned sales pros will have a longer list of reasons people don’t buy, but here are the six most common reasons I know.

  1. Insecurity. The positive feeling your presentation creates must outweigh the negative feeling they have about giving you their money. For most people money equates to security. For some there may have been a period of lack in their pasts. So, they don’t part with their money easily. Your job is to help them rationalize that they’ll be better off with the benefits of your product than they will be if they hold on to the money.
  2. Indecision. Some people are never master good decision-making skills. They’re so afraid that they just freeze, like deer do in oncoming headlights. Your job is to make them comfortable with the concept that any decision is better than no decision. Keeping themselves in limbo by not making a decision is really a time waster for them (and you).
  3. Procrastination. My definition of procrastination is this:  Living yesterday. Avoiding today, and thus ruining tomorrow. When the benefits of your product are truly good for your buyers, it’s your obligation as a sales professional to help them overcome procrastination and get on with enjoying the benefits.
  4. Money. Either they have it or they don’t. If they don’t, and you can’t help them discover a way to get some, the sale is dead. Top sales pros, though, are experts at helping people get creative about coming up with the money when the product is truly beneficial for them.
  5. They were never asked. Say what? Yep. When surveyed after non-sales situations, a very high percentage of buyers ratted you out. They said they were never asked to buy. Hence, my lesson about asking, clearly, concisely and directly for the order, their money, the business — whatever phraseology you use in your field. You must ask!
  6. Fear. The first  five reasons above could all fall into this reason. When people are afraid they are uncomfortable. When they are uncomfortable, they can become confused as to why they’re even talking with you. And, as we cover in great depth in my new book When Buyers Say No, “a confused mind says no.”

There are other reasons people don’t buy, but these are the most common. Work on overcoming them and you’ll close more business.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

Listen Up! Nancy Friedman, Guest Post

Do you know what the number one skill in sales and service is?

I gave you a hint in the title. Right – listening skills.

Do we really LISTEN? Most of us ‘hear,’ but do we really listen to what people are saying? Are there any methods, tricks, ideas, tips or techniques to make us better listeners? Yes, there are. Listed below are some of the often used skills of better listeners.

What do you think the difference is between listening and hearing?

Bottom line: Hearing is physical. Listening is mental.

[Read more…]