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Custom Growth Solutions, LLC | Sandler Training | Oklahoma City, OK
 

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Customer Relationships

Everyone agrees that customer service is a huge differentiator. But customer service usually isn't something huge, it's a set of little things. Or it may even be just one little thing. So how do you know if you're really doing a good job with your customer service?

If you're in any customer service oriented role in your organization, chances are pretty good you hear complaints from time to time. If you handle those the right way, there may be a huge opportunity for growth.

I typically work with people who want to grow their business or organization. A huge part of that is understanding the cast of characters in the decision-making process. When you're talking to a customer or prospect, who can say yes? Who can say no? Who has just a little input? Who has veto power?

In business, sometimes it's the small things that can make a huge difference. You never know what makes someone more or less willing to do business with you, and often they can't even identify it themselves.

One of my clients who works with real estate agents as referral partners went to a few open houses recently as a prospecting activity. He was in the market for a new home and figured he might as well kill two birds with one stone.

One of my clients, who works in the construction industry, was bragging about one of his sales representatives to me a while back. This representative made good use of an unexpected order to discover more about the company requesting it.

This sales representative saw an order for...

The customer's always right… Right? That's great in theory, but it's not always feasible in practice. Promises made and unkept are worse than promises not made. But not making the unreasonable promises of an angry client or prospect can seem like the makings of a fight!

One of the more powerful techniques we help people learn is how to uncover expectations. We call it the "magic wand" technique. A client shared a great story a while back that helps demonstrate how it works...

Chances are, whether you knew it or not, you've been tested at some point by a prospect, or even by a client. Sometimes it's conscious on their part, sometimes it's just ingrained in their subconscious. How you react is huge!

When you're selling, how much attention are you paying to the expectations of your prospects? If your behavior is too disconnected from their expectations, you can blow it in the most unexpected areas.

Think for a moment about the most respected professions. What comes to mind? Chances are that a profession like doctors came to mind. On the other hand, it's very unlikely that salespeople came to mind, much less insurance salespeople. One of our clients defies that stereotype with just one major difference...

A client of mine recently turned a wrong phone number into a great opportunity. Let's take a look at what happened, and a few lessons we can learn from the situation. The phone rang at my client's office...

Regardless of what your goals are, you have to break it down into digestible bites. You have probably heard the elephant analogy: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. It doesn't matter what it is...

I was recently speaking with someone about doing some training. They shared the story of how one of the people they wanted me to train had blown a half a million dollar deal in just thirty seconds.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there in sales that promise the world to their prospect, then either under-deliver, or charge more than they claimed they would. It's amazing how you can set yourself apart simply by doing what you say you'll do, and not over-promising. One of my clients was recently...

If you're like most people, you've been in a situation where you had to deal with someone, and could actually feel your frustration rising. It's a common occurrence in customer service, and can end up with both parties ready to fight! As soon as you start to feel your frustration rise...

In many industries, there's a common problem. Phone calls aren't returned in a timely manner, and so-called "professionals" may not even show up for appointments. One of my clients was recently able to take advantage of that issue.

In sales interactions, if you ask enough questions, and you ask the right questions, you'll end up uncovering pain that your prospect has. At Sandler, we call that putting someone through the pain funnel. It's extremely powerful! And if we do the pain funnel right...

When it comes down to it, most people really view negotiations as a lose-lose situation. Or, at best, they view it as a win-lose scenario. But if you really strip away what good negotiations are, they're a conversation that results in a win for both parties. So how do we, as salespeople, get to that point?

Have you ever been frustrated because doing business with a certain company was harder than you thought it should be? Have you thought about your own organization the same way? It may be difficult to do business with you, and you may not even realize it.

There are two things everybody brings to every communication situation: Behavior and expectations. Understanding those can lead to sales, and not understanding them can lead to missed opportunities. You almost have to be a detective!

Asking the right questions is extremely important. But once you know what questions to ask, actually asking them in the right order is hugely important! It definitely happens in customer service, but it can do even more damage in sales. It's amazing how often I see salespeople ask the right questions, but in the wrong order. Let's look at uncovering the decision maker as an example.

Your prospects may think they know what's causing their pain, but they're often wrong. As a salesperson, it's your job to dig into the symptoms they share, and diagnose what is actually causing their pain. Not only that, but you also need to see if you're even the person that can help with the actual source of the pain! In other words, you need to be seen as a trusted advisor, not a salesperson. A client of mine recently shared a story that illustrated this well.

When you think about different activities you do where you interact with others, are you thinking of how to maximize those interactions? What's the key to getting the most out of any interaction with any person?

Sometimes we can see pains our prospects have that they can't see themselves. We know the problem is there, and know we can fix it, but they just don't see it. For all intents and purposes, the pain isn't visible to them. So how do we get them to acknowledge the pain?

In sales and in customer service, it's frequently the little things that matter. There may be sales you've made where something very small tipped the scales your way. Or possibly you've lost a long-term client over something you didn't even know had happened.

What do you look at as great customer service? Most likely it's not something huge, but some set of little things. Or it may even be just one little thing. Why are those little things so important?

Robert was at the doctor's office to get a shot. The only problem was, Robert was not entirely comfortable with needles. Robert was called back into the exam room. As they were getting everything ready, he thought he was pretty calm and relaxed. But he know that any moment, that needle was going to come out.

Finding out and using your customer's preferred method of communication is huge. I've seen it make or break a deal more times than I can count. Just recently, I had a client share a story about how it nearly ruined a relationship.

It doesn't matter whether we're meeting with a prospect or talking to an existing client. When we meet with someone, we need to get enough information from them to know whether we can help them or not. It should be all about asking them questions.

Have you ever had a prospect bring you a problem that you knew you could solve, you decided to business together, and it all fell apart? Often that's because the prospect brought you what they thought the problem was, but it turns out that the real problem was completely different. Is that really their fault? Or should you have taken steps to discover that ahead of time?

If we don't ask questions, we can waste time, energy, and even money. It leads to unpaid consulting and making assumptions. Some people are much more comfortable than others at asking questions.

When something seems to be self-evident, the truth is it may not be evident to everyone else. "Self" is the key word there. We can't make assumptions that everyone knows what we know. To assume is to lie to yourself.

Recently I did some customer service training for a client. While we were talking about good service versus bad service, something happened that provided a great example of the impact bad service can cause.

Typically when I do customer service training, I will ask them what they think of good service, and who comes to mind. Then I’ll ask them what they think of bad service, and who comes to mind.

 

Bonding with a prospective client and establishing rapport early on are hugely important. If we aren’t careful, we can unintentionally cause someone to disconnect from us. A mistake in the first few seconds, and we can potentially be done for.

Those subconscious things that we connect or disconnect with are so far down deep inside us that we don’t even register them sometimes. In fact, several years back we had a dog that helps demonstrate this.