Saturday, March 29, 2008

Customer Service

Getting ready for this years golf season, I decided I needed a new driver. Had a gift certificate for a company that is not located here in Hays. We will call this company "Richards"sporting goods. (Should be easy to figure out!) Anyway, went on line, ordered what I wanted and put the additional cost on my credit card.

After two weeks, I figured I should track the package. It stated that it was delivered a week ago. I shipped it to Nex-Tech where we have a good receiving dock (John watches everything!). So off to the 800 customer service number. Shocking, no wait, straight to a live (US) body and I explained my issue. The customer service rep looked at the tracking. Found an issue with the delivery and said they would have to reorder the driver. No problem, I thought...

The customer service rep went on to explain that they would have to issue a credit, then do a new order. No problem, get it done! Well, it was on half CC and half gift card. So they would have to issue a new gift card, 3-5 business days, then I would have to call back in and have them send me a physical card (3-5 days), then I would have to reorder? All I wanted was my driver.

It is important to take care of the customer! Make sure your policies and procedures use common sense. Everything was great in my experience, yet the most simple (What should have been simple) could not be completed. Therefore, I am an unhappy customer.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Keeping it fresh, a balancing act

If you are really Hungary and are given an bread to eat, you are going to eat and enjoy the bread. The second slice of bread is good to eat, but not as good as the first piece. Third, forth and more slices become less fulfilling as you eat them. Pretty soon eating the bread becomes almost sickening.

This is similar to selling to a client the same solution. It loses value. You have to bring new and fresh solutions, otherwise clients are going to look for something better. This also applies to managed services. A client may be happy to pay for services for the first year, however you must continue to show value through out the service, otherwise clients will look elsewhere. This can be one of the most discouraging things in the IT business. If the solution works great (Which is what we all want) then soon clients forget what it was like when the equipment did not function properly. If there is not a server failure, down time or other problems, clients begin to think the equipment runs itself. Then they see no value in proactive service. However if the equipment fails, then no matter how fast we respond, it is not fast enough. It is a constant struggle to keep clients engaged and happy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Closing every sale?

I am currently reading How to CLOSE EVERY SALE by Joe Girard. If your not familiar with Joe Girard, his claim to fame is being listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "Worlds Greatest Salesman" for having sold more than 13,000 cars in a fifteen year period.

That is a lot of sales. He did not sell to fleets, he sold every one retail. You might think that he was high pressure, in your face "Used Car" sales man. Not true. Rather, he sold on relationship and referral. He believes in a few pillers such as customer service, sincerity and honesty. Customers call on Joe to buy a car. This is clearly the mark of a great sales maker.

In this book, I have not found any ground breaking, new sales techniques, instead, he simplifies the process, talkes about the individual pieces of a sale and brings some clarification to some areas.

I believe that a good sales person must constantly review their process, get back to the basics on an ongoing basis and revamp their own processes.

Reading is a great way to stay sharp and find new ideas. I may not find some of the good ideas I have in a book, however, something in a book will spawn an idea just by a phrase or another concept. Recently I went to Kindergarden roundup (Kinda like shopping for a school). In a way it was schools selling themself to get your child to come there. One thing they stressed was reading and how important it is to developing children. I figure if is that important to a 5 year old, it is probably that important to me. Lets face it, there is not a lot of difference between me and a five year old.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The be-back-bus

I first started in sales at Radioshack. This is where I first learned my sales skills. One lesson that every rookie there learned was the Be-Back-Bus. Most rookies would spend hours working on one sale to hear "I will be back". Then for the next week that sales rep would tell us how their customer was going to be back.

The joke was that one day we were all going to be rich because the Be-Back-Bus was going to roll up. Of course this never happened. This process was good at teaching qualifying.

Make sure that on every sale you find the time frame, budget and decision maker. If any of these are not in line then it is time to either set proper expectations or end the sales process. Those clients that have improper expectations (Time frame, budget or decision maker) are riders on the Be-Back-Bus.

The three tiers of a sale

There are three things the seem universal to me in a sale. That is price, service and quality. If you think back to your last purchase, you probably evaluated these three things. The question is, which one was more important to you. Sometimes it is price, yet when you get home all you remember are quality and service.

Negotiating is part of sales. This is probably my most disliked part. That may surprise some. The reason I dislike it so much is that I did not do my job explaining the service and quality well so there is a low perceived value to the other tiers. If you find yourself defending price, maybe this should be turned around.

If I lower price, which of the other tiers do you want to lower. The three tiers are linked. Lowering price, lowers either quality or service, maybe both.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Trying not to clone success

Early on in my career, I spent a LOT of time trying to clone successful sales people. I was unable to get this done. So how to you make a successful sales person? I don't think that this just applies to sales, this is just what I know. The biggest thing I have learned is that there is no sales strategy that is perfect for everyone. There are some clear steps that are successful. However the use of them is individual.

To help people succeed, you must find their individual skills. Then help them utilize those skills to become successful. Maybe a individual skill set involves building relationships. Then take that and build upon it.

Clearly if the skill set is not aligned at all with sales then other choices should be made. Just because a skill set is not the same as anthers does not mean this person will not be successful.