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Finding & Maintaining Customers: Sales & Customer Service - Lessons

Finding and keeping customers is hard. The problem with describing this part of running any type of business is that every company, whether it is new or well-established, is different in this respect. Customers will establish your reputation, which will bring other customers in. One customer always leads to another, if the experience created for them was something that brought value to them.

Something To Remember

It becomes a lot easier once you realize that all people want the same thing. They want to be re-inforced in the belief that they're right, and that the values they hold are acknowledged as true and good. The point, then, for a sales representative isn't to push the latest and greatest product. It is to help them make the best, most well-informed decision. It's like love, really. I never believed that love was about changing a person. It's about finding someone who's already the right fit, someone who would never ask you to change. It's the same in sales. Help them build a relationship with you and the products you have, and they'll keep coming back to find the right fit for the right cause.

Some basic sales guidelines

Question: If a customer brought in a competitor's ad with a lower price on an item already marked down, how would you address their concerns?

Now, before I attempt to answer this question, let me start out by saying that in most cases, the most problematic clients for me have been the cheap ones. I don't use cheap as an insult in any way. Something I learned as a result of unwilling clients was that your cheapest customers will be your most expensive ones.

Translation: You'll spend more time trying to please the cheaper customers for less profit, and if you aren't careful, it sets a precedent for future customer interactions.

Customer: Forget it, I can just get it for cheaper somewhere else.

Sales Rep: That very well could be true, sir. And, honestly, I get it; in today’s economy, we all want the most for our money. We're not living in the easiest time right now. But if I can help you find a better-suited product for cheaper, is that something you may want? We have other things that may very well suit your needs. Why don't you tell me more in detail about your use-cases?

Point A: "That very well could be true, sir. And honestly, I get it." You're establishing an understanding of what your customer is feeling here.

Point B: "But if I can help you find a better-suited product for cheaper..." Now, what you're doing is you're keeping the customer from leaving. He may not want the $600 laptop, but maybe you can find a similar product in specs for $530.

Fun Fact: Sometimes, a competitor may have a better price for Product X, but when you look at the fine print, you'll notice that they may be selling an outdated/older model for the price. In such a case, inform the customer that they're actually getting the best deal for the price.

The point is to not write-off the customer and to try to understand their pain and offer them something so that they don't at all walk out of the store empty-handed. If they don't walk out of the store with the product they had in mind for Cause A, talk to them and maybe they'll buy something they've been thinking about for Cause B. Either way, you're solving a problem that needs to be addressed, even if you can't offer them what they were initially looking for.

30-60-90: Sales & More Fun - Actionable Goals

It's pretty straightforward. The 30-60-90 concept allows your employer to gauge how you'll be contributing over time. What are your intentions, and how are you going to accomplish them? Set actionable goals.

For example, your goal may be "to grow into your position and become better day by day." Admirable goal overall, but there's nothing I can actually take from that.

Here's an example for this goal, broken down.

30 Days

  • Read available company guides.
  • Meet your team. Introduce yourself and maybe drum up a conversation during lunch. Get a feel for what it's like to work there, and read any books or follow specific rules that your team adheres to. Ask questions.
  • Shadow an employee. By doing this, you'll get a feel for the types of customers you'll be dealing with and you'll see first-hand how to best interact with them. Try to observe and don't engage right away. Learn from your customers and from who you're shadowing.
  • Review and practice any sales pitches.

    Basic Pieces of Advice for Sales Geeks 🤓

    • Build relationships with everyone you can. You never know who is one call or e-mail away from a great referral or opportunity.
    • Be okay with 'failing' a lot. Take notes and adjust based on what you've learned from those failures.
    • People have better experiences when they buy a product over pleasure rather than pain.
    • Be assertive, not aggressive.
    • Respect getting a "no" sometimes. No "no" is forever, and you can't focus on one "maybe" customer at the expense of other eager customers.
    • Thank people and smile more often than not.
    • Link your offer to emotion, money, or logic, depending on the customer.
    • Don't ever bring customers a problem or "sorry!" Bring them solutions to the problems at hand.
    • Listen more than you speak.
    • Don't think like an employee. Think like the owner of the business you're employed by and protect the company image.
    • Sell by value, not price.

    If you're feeling anxious, that's totally justified. In fact, more often than not, it's a good sign. It means you care, and that you want to do well. Channel your anxiety and use it to your advantage.

    Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes. ~ Zig Ziglar.

    The truth is that new salespeople have it hard. They have no contacts, no experience (in that organization) and they're going to make a lot of mistakes. Capitalize on it. Bend to your experiences. Be okay with falling 7 times, if only you're strong enough to get up an 8th. You might be ignored a lot, so if you want to change the world, the way you work, you'll have to make your voice count for something. Eyes on the prize. Don't put much stock in augury. Focus on the present and completing the tasks. Only once you're done should you go back and analyze how things went.

    The most important thing, though, is to be as authentic as possible. You've got to believe in the product you're selling. In some cases, it won't happen, but you should always strive to focus on selling what you believe the customer wants, not what number ($) looks best on paper.

    Keep asking until you find the answers. In sales, there are usually four or five no's to before you get a yes. ~ Jack Canfield

    Do you want to know who your number one enemy will be, as a salesperson? Your knowledge. The moment you tell a customer what product to buy because it's what's "latest" on the market or because "you know it's great", you have failed. Talk to the customer. Their needs are all that matter. Make an informed thought as if you were in their shoes. Then sell to them. Sales is about solving problems, not selling a product outright.

    Keep Yourself Positive, Cheerful And Goal-Oriented. Sales Success Is 80% Attitude And Only 20% Aptitude.     

    ... and last but not least, you never close a sale. You open the door to your newfound relationship. Make it clear that you're always available and at their service the next time they need you.

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