Archive for January, 2014

New vs. Old Selling

I could not believe it. The other day I had lunch with a sales person who wanted me to buy her local internet advertising service. For the majority of the time all she talked about was how her customers benefited from increased exposure via the internet. Blah, blah, blah was all I heard.

If you and your sales people believe, like this woman, that selling is about sales pitches and fancy closing scripts, then I suggest you and they need to get sales training immediately. Those techniques were integral to the old school of selling, but selling today is more about building rapport with the potential buyer…asking the right questions, letting the buyer talk while you listen, and uncovering their emotions / frustrations. The buyer’s coffee cup should be full when your’s is finished because they have been too busy answering your questions.

I define selling as “professionally helping people buy”. It’s not cajoling or pushing product but rather helping the buyer find a solution to their problem. You must understand their problem first before you can find a solution. That’s what bothered me most about the sales woman’s approach with me. She didn’t take the time to understand my issues and problems; she either assumed she knew or she didn’t care.

The distinction between old and new selling styles can be summarized as:

Old Style                                                                    New Style

*        Presence of a strong sales pitch                 *   Focus on understanding the buyer’s needs

*        Often involves inserting pressure             *   Relies on rapport being built not pressure

*        Counter objections                                          *   Validate objection and reopen conversation

(taken from table prepared by Ari Galper)

Today people are turned off by the Old Sales Style. They want to know that you care. Recall the saying “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. Old style is much more about selling while the new style is about building rapport first and understanding the issues. When you understand my issues and the emotions behind those issues, I am much more willing to purchase – no fancy closing techniques needed. 

Are you and your sales team generating the results you expect? If not, perhaps it’s because you’re using the old style selling. I would be happy to discuss training your sales team on techniques that will increase their effectiveness as a sales team.

Jeff Lovejoy

jefflovejoy@actioncoach.com

770.988.1844

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January 31, 2014 at 7:53 am Leave a comment

Sage Advice from the Wise Cheshire Cat

Do you remember the scene in Alice in Wonderland where Alice comes upon a fork in the road and seeking advice from the Cheshire cat asks:

Alice:  “Which road do I take?”

Cat:     “Where do you want to go?”

Alice:  “I don’t know.”

Cat:      “Then, it doesn’t matter.”

The cat makes Alice seem silly for asking when she didn’t have an idea as to her destination. Yet, when I speak to many business owners and leaders they also don’t have a clearly defined destination of where they want their business to go…a vision. Running a business without knowing where you want it to go is like going on vacation without any thought as to where to go. Name me one Olympic athlete who didn’t have a dream of competing for a gold medal. You can’t. Their dream of reaching the Olympics (their destination) is what gets them through their rigorous training.

It is common for business owners to get into business without establishing a vision for the business 10 – 15 years hence. Without a clearly articulated destination they default control of the company’s future to external forces. Perhaps this is why I hear so many business owners complain about the adverse effects the economic downturn has had on their business. If you know where you want to go, you’ll navigate your way through any rough waters you may encounter. They don’t rest attainment of their destination on excuses and blame.

Successful owners and leaders have a future – orientation; they know what they want and are constantly focused on what is necessary to achieve what they want. They are clear on:

  • the future size of their business, in terms of annual revenues, profits, number of customers, number of employees
  • number of locations and where they are located
  • their target market and the products/services they sell
  • their contribution to the community

Employees are very interested in the ultimate destination of the business. Simon Sinek in his book “Start with Why” states “average companies give their people something to work on…the most innovative organizations give their people something to work towards.” To truly inspire your employees and to achieve the growth you want from your business, you must articulate your vision for the business.

Begin by closing your eyes and thinking about your personal life that your business must support. Reflect on your community and what size business would most benefit your neighbors. Then, look to your potential customers and design a business that maximizes value to them. I’ll be glad to speak with you if you would like help establishing your vision for your business and your personal life.

Jeff Lovejoy

jefflovejoy@actioncoach.com

770.988.1844

January 21, 2014 at 8:09 am Leave a comment

Want to Lose Business? – Here’s One Quick Way

The other day I was speaking with a neighbor who complained about a recent experience at one of our favorite restaurants. My family also enjoys this restaurant for its friendly service and good food. So, I was surprised with my neighbor’s comments. Unfortunately my neighbor experienced poor food quality and a very surly waiter who kept my friends waiting for mildly warm entrees. The experience was so bad that my neighbor and his family have sworn not to go back.

As bad as the experience was, my friend didn’t complain to the manager, so undoubtedly other patrons who had the same waiter left with the same experience – lots of dissatisfied customers.

Hearing this story reminded me of something I read weeks before in Bill Cates’ book, “Get More Referrals Now”. In that well written book he cites the results of a couple studies on customer complaints. For example:

A study conducted by The Strategic Planning Institute of Cambridge PA found that “the average business never hears from 96% of its unhappy clients”.

So, most business owners don’t hear from customers who have a negative experience with their company. Presumably those unhappy customers just leave and never come back with the owner wondering what’s happening to repeat customers.

That same study also found that of the clients who complained, 70% will do business with the company again if the complaint is resolved. These findings are confirmed by the Technical Assistance Research Program Institute, which found that complainers are more likely to continue doing business with the company that upset them than non-complainers.

The message is clear; business owners can’t adopt the attitude that the absence of complaints signals customer satisfaction. As we’ve seen, most customers won’t complain, they just won’t come back. As bad as that is, the even bigger consequence is that while they won’t complain to the owner or manager, they will tell their friends (just as my neighbor did). You may also read about their experience on Yelp or Facebook or other social media vehicle.

The key is to solicit complaints. Yes, as backwards as that may seem you want to receive complaints. Don’t consider complaints as bad. They will help you save customer relationships if you respectfully listen to the complaint, don’t get defensive, and don’t take their complaints personally. Quickly fix the issue with a smile and retain your customer. Hide your head in the sand for fear of hearing complaints and you’ll lose customers.

So, what are you doing to solicit honest feedback from your customers? Are you talking to them about their experience with your company…sincerely engaging with them to learn their thoughts? Sincerity is key. If you are just asking about their experience with little intent of taking action, it will be apparent and will do little to convey the message that you care.

Don’t wait. Take action. Begin soliciting feedback from customers. Don’t be afraid of what you might learn…view their comments as insights that will help you grow your business.

Jeff Lovejoy

jefflovejoy@actioncoach.com

January 6, 2014 at 10:52 am Leave a comment