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50p the cost of great customer service

Why Outstanding Customer Service Doesn’t have to be Complicated

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Why Outstanding Customer Service Doesn’t have to be Complicated (or expensive)

This morning I had an almost flat tyre.  Not an actual puncture, but something I noticed last night and forgot to deal with.

I was on the school run, so I had to make sure the children were dropped off on time, then I gently drove the car to the nearest petrol station and parked up by the air machine. Then I realised – I had been on the school run, so all I had was keys and my phone.  No money. I needed 50p.

I did the regulatory scrabble under the seats, in the nooks and crannies and glove compartment and came up with ….36p. Not enough.

Faced with the choice of driving home and possibly damaging the tyre, or throwing myself on the mercy of the staff at the petrol station, I chose the latter.

“Excuse me, I need your help – I’ve got a flat tyre and I’ve only got 36p. Is it possible…….?”

I never got the chance to finish. The man behind the counter walked off, grabbed something and plopped a 50 pence coin into my hand.

I started to thank him and promised to call by later. He just waved me away and smiled.

Now, I am sure he is a kind man who just wanted to help a fellow human being, but he actually did so much more than that – through his simple act of kindness he made a potentially complicated day suddenly simple and helped a rather frazzled mother on the school run calm down instantly.

Longer term though, he will be the winner. Of course he will get his 50p back. But he will get much more. Because of my gratitude and the fact that I will remember that feeling of panic which he diffused, I will use his petrol station again. In fact, I will probably make a point of using it even more. So he will sell me petrol, the children will ensure we buy sweets and drinks, I will definitely use the car wash and it is likely that we will make various spur of the moment purchases, just as everyone does.

He will reap far more than 50p. Maybe knows it, maybe he doesn’t, but if he treats all his customers like me, I have a feeling he will have a very successful business.

So, if you are in Edmonton, London, go to the Jet Garage at 134 Hertford Road. There! Now he’s got a referral too!

See how that 50p has grown?

Happy Selling!

scared customers

5 Things that could be scaring your customers away

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5 Things that could be scaring your customers away (and what you can do about it)

Let’s face it, customers can be tough to win, so the last thing you want to do is scare any of them away. However, if you are involved in selling in any way at all, make sure you are not doing anything on this list:

Projecting desperation

It doesn’t matter whether it is business or life in general, we can always sense if someone is desperate and we don’t like it. In fact, we are likely to react by withdrawing, because that’s the human response. Remember your focus should always be on your customers and their needs (not your salary, bonus cheque, meeting your target or anything else financial). So even if you are struggling, push it as far to the back of your mind as you can and concentrate on helping your customer.

You don’t look professional

OK, we are not all supermodels, but can you honestly say you project the right image for whatever it is that you are selling? By the way, you don’t necessarily have to turn up in a suit and tie – if you are in an office environment, then that is fine, but you should dress appropriately for the thing you do. I go to a lot of networking meetings, full of serious businesspeople and all of them dressed differently. But the constant? Even the people who work in the more manual type of organisations can always manage to look professional. Clean, neat, tidy. See – it’s not so hard is it?

You promise everything

Seriously, the chances of you being able to give every customer every thing they need is small, so don’t feel pressured to say ‘yes’ to each request – if you do that and then the customer wants it, you are going to be in big trouble further down the line.  It is better to be honest (or perhaps sell them an upgraded package with the ‘thing’ they want for more money!). It might not be easy, but a lot of sales is about compromise anyway – just give them all the facts and keep mentioning the benefits of your solution. If you do your job well, there is a good chance you will get the sale anyway. Better than a false sale followed by a refund!

You don’t take notes

This is about two things:

  1. Listening carefully and paying attention to the person who has been kind enough to grant you some of their time. This is respectful. There is a phrase ‘people buy from people’ and one of the building blocks of a good relationship with customers is the ability to listen and understand.
  2. Ensuring that you don’t forget important details and, because you have written down key points, you can summarise and check your understanding. This is professional and it reassures the customer because it shows that you are less likely to make mistakes with their precious money if they use you.

You are irritating

What does your voice sound like and what is your body language saying? Do you repeat things, tell boring anecdotes, take ages to get to the point, or make negative comments about other people? Now of course, we all think we are wonderfully interesting, but what if (shock horror) we are not as engaging as we think we are? Look out for signs that you are boring or irritating your customers. Yawning, loss of attention, or early conclusions to meetings are tell-tale signs that you are being less than captivating. Consider taking someone you trust out with you on a sales call to give you some constructive feedback and help you improve.

So with any luck you are not a desperate, unprofessional, “say yes to anything”, irritating salesperson with no notebook. However, if you are, perhaps you have a few things to work on!

Happy selling!

Historical lady saying no

Have you ever talked yourself out of a sale?

By | customers, entrepreneurs, marketing, negotiation, sales tips, Training | No Comments

Have you ever talked yourself out of a sale

(and what should you have done differently?)

It is important to understand when to talk and when to stop. When we are being sold ‘to’ none of us likes to be with someone who talks constantly; it is irritating and it can make us feel resentful because it is taking up our time. This is especially true if we have already made our mind up to buy.

When you are the one doing the selling, you should also be aware that not every customer needs to know everything about your product or service – all they really need to know is whether it will solve their problem or meet their objective and how. Anything else is just clutter and can put the sale at risk. Read More

Are you keeping it REAL?

By | customers, entrepreneurs, Gallery, Training, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Are you keeping it real?

Today I read a post on Facebook asking people to list one thing that they were really proud to have achieved in 2016. There were some super replies – things like:

I got married

I made a profit in my first year of business

I donated a big chunk of money to charity

I moved house

Now if it had been the end of 2015 I would have been very proud to have posted that I had won a competition (Enterprise Enfield Start up Business of the Year 2015). But that was last year. What had I achieved in 2016 that was so amazing?

To begin with, I really struggled – I wanted to post some outstanding achievement. I came up with lots of smaller achievements, but nothing that really rocked. Nothing I wanted to shout about. Yes, everything was supporting my overall plan, but I wanted to show that I too had done something exceptional.

Then, whilst disentangling my children from a fight (it is the Christmas holidays after all!) I realised that I had actually achieved something truly noteworthy. For the last 4 years I have been raising my two children by myself with precious little support from their absent father. I had kept them alive, fed, housed, educated, entertained and loved them, hopefully training them about how to be decent human beings and giving them the best childhood I can, whilst setting up and running a business. What could be more real (and more important) than that?

So my amazing achievement is not going to win me an award, make the newspapers or get me into The Times Rich List, but it is the most real thing I could possibly do and you know what? I am proud of myself.

Have a wonderful 2017 everyone – and if the going gets tough, just remind yourself to keep it real. I shall.

Janet is based in Enfield, north London and trains small businesses and entrepreneurs how to sell more. 

If you enjoyed this article and you would like to receive a free download: Janet’s 8 Proven Sales Tips, please click on this link nowClick Here for 8 Proven Sales Tips

If you or your team is looking to grow your sales, let’s chat. Whether or not we decide to work together, I am confident I can offer you some strategies that will help you grow your sales in no time. Here is a link to my email. Drop me a line and let’s see what we can do:  Send a message

Start 2017 with a huge bang! I am running a workshop on planning for Sales Success in 2017. Early bird discounts if you book now! Click here for more information: Plan for Sales Success in 2017

Why my worst training was really one of my best

By | customers, marketing, Training, Uncategorized | No Comments

As a sales trainer, I am used to delivering training in a variety of different venues and I am also used to dealing with the unexpected. However, a few years before I set up Tadpole Training, I was working as Head of Business Development in a private college. I was part of a team sent to Nigeria to deliver training to the procurement division of a state government (a bit like a local authority in the UK). Without doubt, this became one of the most challenging training sessions I ever delivered. I’m sure a good screen writer could turn this into a great episode of a sit-com, but I promise you everything here is true.

Read More

The surprisingly effective sales question you are probably not asking

By | customers, entrepreneurs, sales tips, Training, Uncategorized | No Comments

Some things you learn through training. Some things you learn through actual real life experience. The question I am about to share with you is an example of the latter.

As a sales rookie, I went on loads of training courses which undoubtedly helped me go on to have a successful sales career. However, it is true that you don’t really start to learn the best lessons until you are interacting with real life customers in all their glorious variety! Although I have since come across training which suggests using this question, it is one I stumbled upon by accident and, realising how powerful it was, I still try to incorporate it into as many discussions with customers as possible.

So what is this question? Well it might seem a bit counter-intuitive, but the question is simply this. When you get an enquiry from someone about working with your company, ask them:

“Why are you interested in working with us?”

or, a slight variation of this is when they ask about using a particular service (or indeed buying a product):

“Why are you interested in [insert name of product or service]?”

See – very simple isn’t it?

So why is this such a good question? Well I started using it because I wanted to make sure that prospective delegates were signing up for the right course. There is lots of competition in the training world, as well as a whole raft of different courses offered at different levels with varying objectives and for a wide variety of people. So, I began asking this question to make sure that organisations and individuals signed up to the correct programme that best met their needs.

This is important for several reasons:

  1. Clients often think they know what they want but, after gentle probing sometimes reveal that actually something else is driving them. If I can find out what, I can offer the best possible solution
  2. Business is really not just about taking the money. It can be hard sometimes to question someone who is on the verge of buying, but you have to think long term. Good advice now may yield better results in the future than just the cost of one lost sale. You should be thinking in terms of a lifetime of customer loyalty and you won’t achieve that if you don’t give the best advice you can.
  3. If I get an enrolment and a client comes on the wrong course, they won’t get the maximum results from it, may end up being bored or detached because the content is not relevant and of course, will leave not having achieved their objectives.
  4. This has a knock-on effect within the rest of the class because it changes the group dynamic negatively.
  5. An unhappy delegate will go away without that all-important ‘Wow’ factor, which is so vital. Their feedback won’t be as good and they won’t give referrals as willingly, because the course didn’t meet their needs
  6. Because the overall group wasn’t as engaged, then again, overall feedback is less good with similar results to point 3.
  7. Over time, my brand gets eroded and that is bad for business
  8. The dissatisfied client goes away and has to spend even more money going somewhere else for an alternative solution.

I will admit it’s not always plain sailing. I have had customers visibly surprised when I ask them about why they want to go ahead; after all, in their minds, it felt a bit like I was hesitating to work with them. However, when I explain that I just want to find out what their objectives are, to make sure the course is right for them, then without fail, they understand what I am up to.

Which brings me onto another reason why this line of questioning can be so powerful. By asking why a customer wants to use you (or your service), what will you get? Oh you get something wonderful! You get a list of reasons why they want to buy from you. Pause for a moment and think about that. They actually tell you WHY they want to use you! How fantastic is that? As a salesperson, that has got to be the Holy Grail of selling surely!

It is a super-effective way of making sure you align completely with what customers want. Or indeed, if you can’t help them, you can now save everybody’s time and tell them so – ideally with a recommendation of an alternative supplier.

I not only love the simplicity of this line of questioning, I love the powerful and immediate way it engages with the customer and you get to understand what really motivates them. So much in selling is understanding customers’ needs and to do this effectively, you need to ask powerful and probing questions. So in my book, this is one of the best.

I would urge you to try this question and please let me know how you get on and what results you experience.

Janet is based in Enfield, north London and trains small businesses and entrepreneurs how to sell more. She has recently reached the final of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management’s national awards (BESMA 2016) in the category of Sales Trainer of the Year and, in November 2015 won ‘Start up Business of the Year’ at the Enterprise Enfield Business Awards.

If you enjoyed this article and you would like to receive a free download: Janet’s 8 Proven Sales Tips, please click on this link now.

Click Here for 8 Proven Sales Tips

Sell well

Are you giving a great buying experience?

By | customers, sales tips, Training, Uncategorized | No Comments

Are you giving a great buying experience?
When I run one of my sales training courses, I usually do a bit with the class at the beginning about ‘what makes a good sale’. I ask delegates to think about a time when they had an outstanding buying experience and to share it with the group. The results are often a surprise to participants and really get them thinking about what it feels like to delight customers. It also shows them in a very real way that not all buying decisions are based on price. So what exactly goes into creating a great buying experience? Well, in no particular order, these are the things that usually come top of the list:

“They took time to listen to me” – the salesperson listened attentively, asked questions, showed they understood the answers and tried to find out what was really important to the customer. Read More

Why you need to understand procurement professionals better

By | customers, sales tips, Uncategorized | No Comments

Why you need to understand procurement professionals better.
People in a sales meeting
Have you ever really sat down and thought about some of the pressures your customers are facing, particularly if a key part of their job involves the procurement function? Come to that, do you treat them like proper human beings or just ‘problems’ to be overcome or sold to?

If you don’t, not only are you being unprofessional, but you are genuinely missing out on sales opportunities. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment – and see how you, if you were buying, would like some of these scenarios:

1. Day after day you meet with salespeople who range from wonderful to downright obnoxious. Unfortunately, many salespeople have egos the size of a small country and think you are just some sort of obstacle to be ‘got round’. So you have to spend your working day talking to arrogant, self-centred and just plain unpleasant people. And that’s not taking into account Read More

Are you giving your customers confidence?

By | customers, entrepreneurs, sales tips, Uncategorized | No Comments

Are you giving your customers confidence?Sales training: learn how to create confidence in your customers
That’s not strange question – if your customers don’t have confidence in you, what you are selling and your organisation, then your chances of getting a sale are tiny. Customers tend to buy when they like you, believe in you, trust you and HAVE CONFIDENCE IN YOU. So if you’ve just been with a customer and failed to get the sale, you could do a lot worse than check the following and see if you are guilty of any of these:

1. Did I turn up on time for the meeting? If not, then you started off wrong and it’s hard to get back from that.

2. Was I prepared? Did you have all the things you needed (notebook, pen, samples, proposals, whatever) or did Read More

In sales, sometimes you need to get out of your own way

By | customers, entrepreneurs, sales tips, Uncategorized | One Comment

In Sales, Sometimes you need to get out of your own wayIn sales, sometimes you need to get out of your own way
This is about lacking self-belief, something which I proved to myself spectacularly yesterday. 

To give you the background, the Christmas before last, I went over a speed bump too fast and knocked off the right side of my car’s bumper. I shoved the broken bit in the boot, gave myself a good telling off for not taking more care and got on with things.

Over the next few weeks, I kept thinking ‘I need to get that fixed’ but put it off with a variety of excuses – I haven’t got the time, it will cost too much to order a new bumper, it will be inconvenient to take it to the garage, it doesn’t really matter, blah blah. 

After a while I got used to having a broken bumper and it sailed right down my list of priorities. 

Yesterday, I was clearing out the boot of the car and, tucked right at the back was my broken bit of bumper. My current mindset is a lot different to my mindset 18 months ago and I looked at this piece of debris and Read More