Without Customer Service, Sales are irrelevant

If you have ever spent any time in the operations side of a company than you know that every meeting the topic of sales comes up; and it should because without sales there aren’t any customers, and obviously without customers there isn’t a business. If anyone has ever seen the 1992 movie Glengarry Glen Ross than you have probably heard the sales acronym ABC – Always Be Closing. It’s true no matter how many customers you have, no matter how much money you’ve made as an organization you are only as good as your last quarter, so you always need sales, you always need to be closing. Continue reading

Shut up and listen

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.

Give your clients what they need, not what they want.

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”.