Sales and Service: Land of Promises and Land of Broken Promises!

Sales people are forever making promises and service people always let them down. We need to remember how much we need each other or we will all go broke!

Sales: The Land of Promises

Have you ever worked in sales and had to work with the service department to keep customers satisfied with your post-sales support?

I have been in sales for a number of years. I learned, sometimes the hard way, just how much I needed the service department’s support in order to be successful. Here are just a few things that can make a world if difference:

And those are just a few.

When I was designing small to medium business technology solutions, I would often spend time with technicians in the service department bouncing ideas off them before making a pitch to a client. That feedback prevented me from embarrassing myself or them in the eyes of the client.

sales information exchangeThe salesperson is the public face of the company. They are expected to:

  • Identify need;
  • Clarify need by asking probing questions;
  • Handle objections;
  • Help client make a buying decision.

It’s when this process breaks down that the land of broken promises starts to develop. One unanswered or unasked question at a time.

Land of Broken Promises

In an ideal world, the service department is your before and after sales support that gives you good decision making information before the sale and then keeps the customer satisfied with your solution after the sale.

When we land in Broken Promises, it’s usually because of at least one of these things:

  • Bad technical information;
  • Poor Communication;
  • Unexpected problems during delivery;
  • Unrealistic expectations;
  • Dishonesty.

person cryingInformation and Communication

Bad technical information isn’t necessarily the fault of your technical/service support. You may not have asked the right questions or truly understood what the client needed. You need to ask enough questions that the client almost starts to become annoyed. Then you have to do the same to your technical/service support people!

It’s better to have a client tell you they are not willing to go through the pain to achieve their objective, or a technician to tell you your plan won’t work, than you have to go through the pain of resolving a conflict with the risk of having an unsatisfied client out there telling everyone their experience. It takes 10 client success stories to make up for the one that got away!

Unexpected problems are usually the result of not asking enough questions. There could be a mixture of generations of technology and the client forgot how old something was but it is an important part of their business. This caused a problem with your solution but guess what? You’re the professional. You are supposed to know everything. At least, that’s what the client believes.

Expectations

Clients may have unrealistic expectations. You did such a great job “selling” your solution, they expect it to solve all their problems without a hitch. This is a good place to pre-handle objections. For example, I had a client ask me if I could I could guarantee they would never have a problem with me or my company. My response was that this is a long term relationship and I can guarantee that we will face a challenge at some time. The difference is that I won’t hide from or run from a problem. Note earlier I used the word challenge? There is no such thing as a problem!

Set expectations up front. How will cost be handled? Build in a bumper and be clear it’s to allow for the unexpected. Oops! I guess that’s expected now. Be clear that you are willing to face up to disagreements as long as they are handled with respect, and so on.

Dishonesty is a real problem. Many times it’s the client that is guilty. They knew about a potential challenge but hoped it wouldn’t show up. Out of embarrassment, they may try to transfer the guilt to you. Don’t get caught up in the blame game. If you made a mistake, own it and ask forgiveness while proposing a solution that shouldn’t really cost your client. If it’s the client, don’t apologize but recognize this is one of those “challenges” you expected you might face. Offer a way for the client to save face with as little cost to them as possible.

The Land of Broken Promises is a horrible place. Try your best to stay out of there and help your team support people stay there with you. You are the leader. Lead!

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for great teachers. I’m thankful for great clients. I’m thankful for opportunities to learn. What are you thankful for today?

Pre-Handle Objections. Be Up Front.

Pre-Handle objections by addressing the elephant at the front of the room. Save yourself time and stress by being up front with whatever the biggest objections are.

Pre-Handle Objections

Image representing Canadian justice.What does Pre-Handle objections mean?

I’ll use a great example I heard at an Advanced Product Training with Legalshield this past weekend. Melissa Wilder was in town to address the Ontario market. As part of the agenda, the guest speaker usually delivers a business briefing. That’s a presentation of both the product and the opportunity. She noted that it’s common that the price is what is sitting at the front of a guest’s mind and causes distraction from the message. She actually said something similar very early in the presentation and briefly mentioned the price of the Canadian membership, clearing the air and allowing people to focus on the presentation.

Let’s imagine that you have someone convinced to come to see your service or business opportunity. You told them the meeting would be a little over an hour and that the group likes to go out for some camaraderie afterward. You agreed that you would pick them up and drive. Now, you are about to leave and bring them to the meeting. Because they are a half hour away, you call to confirm. The conversation could go one of two ways.

Option 1

Man giving thumbs down.Hi, this is John Doe. We spoke earlier this week about you coming to a business briefing. (Because, of course, you were up front about that and they already saw something about the service so there are no surprises!) Are you still able to come? Stop right there! You just gave them an out. It doesn’t really matter what the story is, they can make up just about anything.

“I’m sorry I can’t come tonight. Something has come up. Maybe next time?”

You can believe there is no next time. There is no sense of urgency. You didn’t say anything to indicate otherwise and the urgency is all yours, not theirs.

Option 2

photo agreeingHi, this is Jane Doe. We spoke earlier this week about the video I sent previously and you indicated that there were a couple of things that you might be able to use our membership for. I explained that you could learn more and have questions answered at our business briefing. The briefing takes about 45 minutes and after that you would be able to decide if you saw value in staying for further discussion and clarification. After the meeting we typically go for some fellowship and you would be welcome to join us or I would take you home.

Thanks for agreeing to come tonight. When we spoke last, we agreed that after the business briefing, it will be your decision on next steps. Does that sound about right? (As long as you have been up front and your statement is accurate, the answer can only be yes.) It’s kind of hard to say no when you use their own words.

“That’s great! I should be there in about 25 minutes.” And, don’t be late.

Be Honest and Up Front

Honesty and integrity is key in any business. I need to know what you are asking me for and what it’s going to cost me. Keep in mind that my time is worth more than my money. I don’t know about you but the only thing I hate more than a thief is a liar. So, don’t steal my time and don’t lie to me!

Use the Up Front Contract every time. Make it a habit to start every conversation by stating the up front contract that brought you to this point in time and be sure to end every conversation with your next up front contract, whether that is the next meeting, or agreement to part friends. The other thing is to be sure to listen and use language that everyone understands.

Will you always get people to agree to the next up front contract? Nope. But, that means you have both just saved a lot of time and energy, parted friends and can get on about your business.

People like to deal with people they know, like and trust. You will build more lasting relationships being honest and up front and the business you win sticks. Who knows, maybe no means not right now. Because you built a lasting relationship, you will get the future business and/or referrals.

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for great teachers. I’m thankful for integrity. I’m thankful for growth opportunities.

What are you thankful for today?

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You were only half listening? What did that get you?

As sales professionals, it’s imperative that we learn to focus on what the prospect or client is telling us.  Are you truly listening?  When you are “half listening” you may well miss all of the message.

 

Listening or Reloading

3D-Women-Shake-Hand-01In “Winning Body Language for Sales Professionals“, Mark Bowden talks about being a good listener.  He suggests you ask yourself the question “Am I listening or reloading?”.  Many of us have a bad habit of letting our minds get ahead of ourselves.  We are so busy thinking about the next item on our agenda that we lose sight of the client’s needs.  You might say we are reloading for the next attack.  Do you get the picture?

 

When you are focused on the next volley, the prospect can sense that you aren’t paying attention.  Then the trust goes and ultimately the opportunity is lost to us.

 

Stop selling! Help them buy.

3D-Women-Idea-01Most of us are pretty intelligent people.  We don’t need someone to tell us what we need.  We are looking for someone we can trust and that help us buy.  Most of us make decisions by reflecting.  That means you need to be a reflective listener!

 

Pay attention to what your prospect is saying.  If you listen closely enough, they will tell you exactly what they need from you in order to buy what they want.  In most cases, it’s simply taking the time to reassure the client or prospect understands that it’s not just the sale that drives you.

 

They can buy products or services just about anywhere from anyone.  Why you? 

 

Do you really listen? 

Most of us like to think we do.  I think most of us are really reloading.

I would suggest reading two books to help with communicating with prospects and clients.

  • The Secret Language of Leadership by Stephen Denning

  • Winning Body Language for Sales Professionals by Mark Bowden

 

Make it a great day,

 

Barry

P.S.  What am I thankful for today?  I’m thankful for great writers like Simon Sinek, Stephen Denning and Mark Bowden.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to share ideas.  I’m thankful for you!

 

What are you thankful for today?

 

Turnover is natural. How will you handle it?

Man walkingMLM, or Multi-Level Marketing opportunities abound.  A friend once told me it takes an average of eight different MLM experiences before you find the one that suits you.  This means that turnover is natural and should be expected.

How will you manage your expectations?

EXPECTATIONS

When you are approached about a business opportunity, the presenter is usually very excited about what they do and you can get caught up in their excitement.  You see this in most sales industries.  Financial services, real estate, car sales, they all have the same history.

The important thing is to remember that MLM involves sales and sales is one of the most difficult, yet rewarding careers.  As a result, many people are attracted to the opportunity of a career in sales, and a great majority give up because it’s hard work.

COMPETITION

competition for moneyWe sometimes forget that competition in sales is on multiple levels.

You are:

  • competing against personal demands for your time (family, friends, home).
  • competing in your product or service marketplace against similar products.
  • competing for a piece of disposable income.
  • competing for sales representatives.

As a result, there is a high rate of turnover in the sales industry, MLM or otherwise.  Many can’t manage the competing demands and simply give up.  Others find they don’t have the passion they thought they did for the particular product or service.  Turnover is just part of the natural order of things.

TURNOVER COST

There is a cost to turnover.  You spend a lot of time, energy and sometimes money, to train people.  Many people don’t stick around and will move on to another opportunity or get out of sales altogether.  If expectations aren’t managed up front, this can lead to frustration, depression and further erosion of the sales force.  Make sure your team understands the challenges up front.  No surprises.

You need to demonstrate by example that turnover is natural and expected.  Don’t go around complaining that so and so has gone on to another opportunity and being disrespectful of that individual because the made a decision you didn’t like.  It’s not about you!  Wish them well and leave the door open for them to return.  Sometimes they just need to take a look elsewhere to understand that they have a good thing with your opportunity.

TURNOVER BENEFITS

woman carrying moneyThere can be benefits to some turnover:

  • Lessons learned.
  • Fresh ideas.
  • More sales prospects.
  • More leadership prospects.

The key to benefitting from turnover is making sure you understand the lesson.

Did you scare your associates with unrealistic expectations?  Did you make sure your people were properly trained, taught to manage their own expectations?  This list could go on and on, you get the picture.

New people bring their own ideas, skills and expectations.  Keep your mind open and just maybe, they will teach you something new.  These associates will also have a fresh list of prospects.  Each new person could be the next leader on your team.

Remember that each person who leaves your organization is also an opportunity for growth.  They will be around a whole new  group of people and guess what?  There are people in the new organization who don’t fit there and are looking for another option.

Your former associate may now be your best referral.  It’s all in how you manage and maintain that relationship.  If you are disrespectful and arrogant, they will likely return the same.  Now you both look bad.  On the other hand, you show grace and they will likely return the same.  Win/win.

Turnover is healthy, if you let it be.  It’s all up to you.  What will your choice be?

 

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S.  What am I thankful for today?  I’m thankful for every opportunity to learn.  I’m thankful for every opportunity to expand my circle of influence.  I’m thankful for you.

What are you thankful for today?