There are times when customer service just isn’t what you had hoped for when you’re shopping or even when you’re dealing with another business colleague. What is wrong with people today you may wonder? With this in mind, you need to make certain that both you and your staff continually provide stellar customer service in all interactions with clients and potential clients.
Here are our top tips for providing a great customer experience:
- Answer your telephone. Business owners need to make it a practice to answer their phones during business hours. If a client has taken the time to call you, you should have the courtesy to not make him or her wade through a phone menu to get to you.
- Listen to your customers. They may be telling you something and if you’re not listening you may miss out on an opportunity to further serve them.
- Under-promise. Over-deliver.
- You don’t have to be everything to everyone, but if a client asks for assistance in an area for which you’re not proficient, make a few calls to colleagues (they will thank you for it!) and make an introduction. You will have helped your client and your colleague.
- Provide an add-on service or product. Just as infomercials promise “but that’s not all” if you buy one of their products, so too should you offer something additional — if possible to your clients.
What steps can you take today to provide a better customer experience?
Are there times when you feel you’re spinning your wheels when it comes to your marketing and prospecting efforts? If that’s the case you need to understand that in order to make your marketing effective you need to have a strategy and tactics in place that suit your particular, unique audience.
That being said, there are items that every marketing strategy should have in place:
- Understand what the life cycle of your prospect is, in other words do your sales usually follow a particular path? If so, your strategy must incorporate that unique process.
- How do your prospects want to be contacted? Email? Telephone? Text? Face-to-face meetings?
- Is there a way to automate any of the sales process? Either through mailings or email campaigns or other ways in which you can reach a target group of prospects all at one time?
When you’re looking back at the effectiveness of your 2014 sales and looking forward to 2015 and increased sales, you want to make sure the steps along your sales path are clearly defined.
Great! You’ve decided that you’re going to become an entrepreneur! What are the downsides to being your own boss, being the master of your own domain and not having to answer to a supervisor? Well, there are a few and they include:
- The hours are long. When you’re an employee, you punch a clock and go home at the end of the day. As an entrepreneur, you don’t have a clock to punch and you may find yourself putting in more hours than you originally imaged and when you take the hours worked and divide that by the money you bring in you may find that…
- The money isn’t as good in actuality as it was on paper when you put your business plan together. You should have a bank account that can support you and your current lifestyle for at least three (preferably six) months while the business gains traction.
- It can be stressful knowing that you don’t get paid unless you sell your goods or services and that means you have to be constantly selling. It can be stressful when you’re making a sales call that could make the difference between filet mignon and rice and beans. You don’t want to let desperation seep into the tone of your sales calls.
Take heart, though, there are benefits to being a business owner and they include:
- It is so rewarding to see your successes and know you were the one responsible for it.
- You have flexibility to work the hours you choose whether you’re an early bird or a night owl or if you want to work on the weekend and take a day off during the week.
- You can create your own destiny and perhaps even a business that you can pass down to your children.
If you’re ready to take the leap from employee to entrepreneur, working with a business coach may be your first, best step!
Is there a magic formula for achieving goals? We believe that while there is no magic formula, there are specific steps that business owners can take to help them attain the goals they have set for their businesses.
These steps include:
- Setting goals that are time sensitive and deadline oriented. Rather than setting a goal to “get more clients in 2014” set a goal such as, “get new clients a month in 2014.” This goal means you have made it time sensitive and deadline oriented. Having a measurable goal brings it into focus.
- Set a goal that “forces” you to persevere. Goals that are too easy don’t challenge you as a business owner and will not push you toward greater heights of success. While you don’t want to set goals that are continually unattainable, you do want to set goals that make you work to achieve them!
- Finally set a goal that showcases your expertise and helps you achieve the measures of success you’d set for yourself at the beginning of the year. Setting a goal to “clean off your desk” isn’t helping your business grow. But setting a goal to “increase revenues by 25% by year’s end” pushes you toward success.
What steps do you take to achieve your business goals?
Business owners — regardless of the type of business they’re in need to spend a portion of their time on selling. There is an 80/20 rule that you should spend 80% of your time on meeting existing client needs and 20% of your time marketing and pursuing new opportunities. Are you following the 80/20 rule?
To make the 20% of the time you’re selling as cost effective as it can be, here are three ways to productively boost your sales:
- Upsell ~ If you have a client who already works with you, chances are they like what you’re doing, right? If you have other products or services available, make an offer.
- Sell an add on product ~ If you’re launching a new product or service, ask your current clients if they’d be willing to purchase it. Fast food restaurants always ask if you “want fries with that,” why can’t you ask, “you’re already using ABC, would you like to try XYZ?”
- Cold calling ~ There will come a time when you may be faced with making cold calls. However, if you’ve been cultivating relationships with current clients you may be better served to say to them, “Hey, since we’ve worked together for five years, you must like what I’m doing… I’d appreciate a referral.” If a client gives you a referral, make sure you send them a small gift or a card or some other token or appreciation. Some business owners offer a percent off an existing service if they close on a referral from a current client.
What can you do to implement strategic sales practices?
As a business owner you are also a sales person. Does that take you by surprise? We’ve found that when we work with our clients some of them don’t identify themselves as sales people but if you own a business and are the face of that business you are a sales person.
Now that you know you’re a sales person, let’s look at the five steps in a successful sales cycle; chances are you already have these in practice, but it’s sometimes good to look back at the cycle and perfect it if necessary:
- Prospecting. Everytime you leave the office for a networking event or meet with a potential client or answer the phone you are in the prospecting phase. If you’re cold calling you need to understand where your target audience is and what your services will do to address his or her pain point.
- Pain points aka needs identification. How will you know whether your goods and services are a match to a clients’ needs? By talking with him and uncovering what his underlying needs are. As a seller you need to uncover those needs and validate to the client how you can help him.
- Needs development is a way in which you and the client come together to build a better mousetrap, as it were. What can you offer that will not only address his problem, but make it better for him?
- Satisfying your clients’ needs. During this part of the sales cycle, let your prospect “interview you.” Let him or her uncover if you truly have the items necessary to help them effectively. Consider this part of the cycle, the “test drive” phase for the client.
- Make a commitment. Once the sales cycle is over, and the sales cycle is truly never over, you need to commit to doing what you said you would or the sales cycle will have been for naught. Every time you make a sale you are making a commitment to that client that you will meet his needs as you indicated you would during your initial meetings — you should try to exceed those needs if possible.
How well-refined is your sales cycle? Are there steps on which you stumble? Do you freeze at the prospecting phase? We can help.