Have you ever wondered if the words that are coming out of your mouth sound different to some people? Have you ever had a client who waited until the last minute to order a product or service and even though they wanted it the next day you had to explain that it wasn’t possible to get it that quick, then you and I probably have something to talk about over a beer. I’ll meet you at happy hour.
Being in the marketing business I cannot tell you how many times I have had a client order a marketing campaign and say they needed it out the very next day, and having to explain to them that it cannot be done that fast and tell them it would be two days or three days, whatever the case is, and sure enough the very next day they are calling asking if it is going out today. I have had customers order an email list or mailing list and want it the next day, and I have had to explain to them that it takes time to pull a list and that production pulls them in the order that they come, and that the normal delivery is two business days and the very next day they call asking for their list. Do the words coming out of my face sound like this? ^$^&*_+(*^$^%()_(_(_(_^%$? Sometimes I feel like I need one of those universal translators like they have on Star Trek.
The customer is always right, right? Wrong. Sometimes it is necessary to be firm but professional with a client and tell them that this is your procedure, and that calling every day is not going to make it any faster. If this does not work and it is a regular customer don’t be afraid to tell them you cannot take any more orders from them. Sometimes it is necessary to”fire a customer”. Now that may seem a bit extreme and is not something I would recommend every time a client irritates you because you will end up with no clients. But it is necessary on occasion. I once had a client that ordered a list at the end of the day and I told him two days, and the very next morning we came into the office with emails to every email address he could find, messages on every extension and after calling him and telling them that not only wasn’t this necessary but not acceptable and still he kept calling every few hours over the next day and a half. After I delivered his list I politely advised him we would not be able to fill any of his orders in the future. This was a case where the money was not worth the hassle. So sometimes it’s okay to give the client the ax. Sometimes you have to put up with a lot of crap as a business, and before you do anything you need to measure the hassle verse the profit and ask yourself if it is worth it. I have often found though that just being direct, firm but professional and explaining how you feel and how things work will often nip the problem in the bud without having to lose the client.
There are two kinds of people in the world, there are those that talk a lot and listen a little, and there are those that listen a lot and talk a little. My grandmother used to say that God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason; that you should listen twice as much as you talk. I believe this applies to business in every aspect of every business. But it is especially important in sales. I have experienced so many sales people who start the conversation out talking, and you all know the type, fast talking, smooth, trying to close the deal. For me a huge turn off. I have said it time and again; a good salesperson is one that actually listens to what the customer is saying.
Just shut up and listen. In sales if you start the conversation talking and giving information to the customer or prospect it is possible to give too much information or to give unnecessary information. Let the customer talk, let them tell you what they want, what their expectations are, and then you can address those issues and advise them what you can do for them. Give them solutions that are directly correlated to what they want. Nobody likes an obvious sales pitch, and when you start out spewing what you can do for the customer and how great your products or services are, it just sounds like a cheap sales pitch and that you are just trying to make a sale. However, when you let the customer do the talking and you listen to what they are saying, and understand their needs and wants and then respond appropriately giving them solutions to those needs and wants you now come across as the person with the solution because you are responding directly to what they have said.
As a salesperson you are already starting out at a disadvantage because most people distrust you and already have their guard up and are dubious about whatever you have to say. But by encouraging them to talk, getting them to tell you what they want, why they want it, you are now responding to their needs and by responding to those needs you are now transformed from a salesperson to a solution provider. Create an atmosphere that is forged in trust and you will create a customer for life.
I was sitting at my desk working on my second cup of coffee while listening to a customer drone on and on about what they wanted from an upcoming marketing campaign. I listened as they went through their long list of expectations and what they thought they were going to accomplish. Once they got it all out, I took a sip of my coffee, took a deep breath and crushed the majority of their expectations. They did not have much of a clue as to how the marketing campaign they were considering doing worked.
This is not unusual in marketing, in fact is it very common. Most clients and prospects come to the table with an expectation of what they want, yet most of them don’t really understand the mechanics of the marketing program they are getting involved in. They are not an expert in this area, you are, and that is why they came to you in the first place right? That being said, the old adage “give the client want they need, not what they want” applies. As a business if we were to give every client what they wanted, we would not have very many satisfied customers. Now that might sound strange, but in my experience most clients that are looking to do any type of marketing usually have a predetermined expectation of what their marketing campaign is going to do for them. As a marketing expert it is my job to create a successful campaign for my clients, and to create a campaign that is going to serve the needs of their business, not their imagination. I am the expert; they are not, so the task of educating them and giving them what they need is laid on me.
Many marketing professionals just go with the flow and give their clients lip service to make them happy, and make promises that they cannot keep, and in not correcting the thought process of a clients expectations these professionals are in effect lying to them, even if they didn’t directly make any promises, the fact that they allowed the client to entertain certain expectations they have indirectly lied to them. I am a firm believer that it is our job as the professionals to manage those expectations, to educate our clients and prospects so that they understand exactly what to expect, and what not to expect, so that they are going into this with their eyes open. Does this ever cause us to lose business? Sure it does, but I would rather lose a deal and have the client walk away feeling like we just saved them from wasting a lot of money than taking their money and creating an unhappy customer whose expectations were not met. The former will come back to you in spades and creates good will and shows that you are a knowledgeable professional who is not just trying to “close the deal”.
On New Year’s Eve many of you made resolutions for the New Year; some of you vowed to lose weight, some of you vowed to quit smoking, some of you vowed to eat better, etc. As an individual it is always good to attempt to improve one’s self, to strive to be a better person in any variety of ways. Having a personal strategy for self improvement is a positive way to enter not only the New Year, but any time.
The same holds true for a business. In order for your business to be truly successful it needs to grow, it needs to adapt to the environment that surrounds it and it needs new and fresh strategies on a constant basis in order to improve on business processes, marketing, management and more. In today’s business world there is a constant evolution taking place, whether that evolution is in technology, marketing, or just the processes we engage in to run our business, it is something that we need to be aware of. The worse thing for a business is to just stand still, to go nowhere; to be the same old business you were in the past is a decree of execution for a business. It is vitally important to change with the times or you risk being left behind.
We live in a world where everything that we do is dictated by technology; from how and where we check our email or even how we communicate with clients (Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn) to how we receive a fax to the type of marketing we engage in has a huge impact on our businesses. I see businesses that don’t have a website, don’t use email or social media to communicate, don’t use the Internet to market and they are just barely surviving. They are dinosaurs just standing in line waiting to go extinct. Savvy businesses today use every means available to them to communicate with existing clients whether that be email on a smart phone or a tweet to update them and they use technology to gain new clients whether that be Social Media or sending out an Email Marketing campaign.
Take advantage of the New Year and create a new strategy for your business. Look at where you are, where you want to go, and what is out there to help you get there.