Customer orientedIn the current economy, every sale seems to take twice as long. Customers are even more price sensitive. Everyone is looking for a deal. The competition is intense, even cutthroat on occasion. What are we to do to meet our sales goals? Here are some principles to keep your sales growing and your integrity in place:

  • Take the high ground: Serve the customer’s interests, even when they seem to be in conflict with your own.
  • Take risks and be willing to keep hearing “no” until you get a “yes.”
  • Change your tactics to fit new circumstances, economic conditions and customer needs.
  • Be proactive: Beat the competition to the customer by working hard, smart and timely.
  • Be in motion: Be out and about at events where your customers are, keep in touch with current customers, ask current customers for referrals, try new marketing techniques (including social media, webinars, and newsletters to provide valuable information and “invite” customers and prospects).
  • Solve your customer’s problems: Make it about the customer’s needs, problems, and desires.
  • Make it easy for the customer to find you and do business with you
  • Care about the sale: Do not make assumptions about the customer, the size of the sale, or the long-term impact a “small” sale may have on your business.

Recently I needed some work done, and after calling, e-mailing and contacting numerous vendors … only one responded. They were interested, on their game and honest. They could have tried to sell something I didn’t need. They communicated any changes to schedule and were upfront about services and costs. They will be my vendor and at the top of the list for any referrals I make.

If you are on the other end of the client – vendor relationship, keep the following in mind:

  • Make sure the right person in your organization receives the call. Do you know if your front-line staff are properly screening prospective customers? What criteria are they using to accept or turn down callers? (as an example: When I was searching for a vendor, the first company I called screened me out after the switchboard/receptionist/front desk “didn’t think” they would want to do the work, but would see if someone wanted to get back to me to see about the job. I moved on to the next vendor and didn’t call back vendor one when I didn’t hear from them.)
  • Return the call. If a customer makes the effort to contact your organization do not miss a sale by failing to do the obvious!
  • Make sure the right person returns the call and does any follow-up. If your organization is going to quote a job, develop specifications, or make the decision that your organization wants the work, ensure your team is qualified and experienced—this applies to both technical and sales processes —with your products, services and company.
  • Train, train, train your organization. Training should include successful techniques for customer service, sales, and troubleshooting
  • Stay involved in the process. It doesn’t require 24/7 on-the-job monitoring, but it does mean that you need to make periodic check-ins with your staff and on their approaches. It may mean a monthly sales meeting and providing lunch for the team and covering key information in a succinct, direct manner. You may also want to set specific metrics for booking appointments, tracking leads/calls, etc.

For your organization to be successful, it must be focused and aligned toward a specific objective (or set of objectives). Many organizations overlook the impact of internal activities on their ability to make sales. Furthermore, companies fail to fully recognize the “first impression” impact on sales that come to prospects and existing customers when they call, email or visit your website. You wouldn’t expect a prospective vendor for your company to answer the phone, “Yeah what d’ya want?” would you? So make sure your front-line contacts with the customers aren’t doing the equivalent.

Take the time to do the “small things” or you will never get the big ones. Give your team a clear mission: to identify the leads, qualify the prospects, and ultimately make the sale. Make sure everyone knows his/her role and scope of authority. Then make sure everyone is doing the job. Measure the results you are getting and take action to make adjustment to the process, roles, as you evaluate outcomes. Keep your organization focused on results and communicating positively with prospects and customers.

Copyright © 2010 Lea A. Strickland, F.O.C.U.S. Resource, Inc.

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