Life: A Series of Small Victories

As many of you know I am on the injured list at present. Unfortunately, I have two things going on at the same time. A broken femur is keeping me wheelchair bound, probably through September and I am having problems with my one eye that works, so my eyesight is at best, variable.

However, for every misfortune, there is always another side. The good fortune of discovering the true value of friends and family and the kindness of perfect strangers are two of the upsides.

Another upside I have discovered is that of celebrating the small victories in life. These first weeks of not being able to walk has been a number of small victories, at first being able to sit up in bed by myself, then getting from bed to the walker (for me the walker is more of a hopper as I can’t put any weight on my left leg) being able to dress myself and moving from walker to the wheelchair by myself.

In small and large companies, learning to celebrate the small victories in life is a wonderful way to create a stronger company culture, good feelings among employees and management. When employees are happy the customers feel it when they come into the business. They are likely to stay longer, take more interest in your company and products, experience a greater connection with the employees and buy more.

Celebrating small victories doesn’t have to be expensive:

  • When an employee or a department has a good day, week or month, make sure they know that they did well.
  • If an individual employee is particularly effective in handling a customer service problem, congratulate him/her on how well s/he did.
  • If someone is diligent in keeping public areas clean and tidy, thank them for it (even if it is their job).
  • Make the words, “thank you” or “great job” words that employees and managers regularly hear.
  • If you are an employee thank your manager when they do something good or congratulate another employee on a job well done.

Create an atmosphere of celebration around small victories. If there is a downside to this I have not yet thought of it.

Give it a try and see how it works for you.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

e_T4Q6892 low-res -c bw s

Selling Is Easier In Person

I was sent an interesting article from my favorite periodical, Harvard Business Review. The article, entitled, “A face to face request is 34 times more successful than an email” talked about research into email vs in-person responses from customers.

According to the article,

Despite the reach of email, asking in person is the significantly more effective approach; you need to ask six people in person to equal the power of a 200-recipient email blast. Still, most people tend to think the email ask will be more effective.”

It seems that part of the difficulty is in the way those who are sending out these emails or texts view them. Let’s say you are sending out an email to people on your email list, you know that you are trustworthy, have quality products and are trying to sell them something that they will enjoy. However, do all the people you are sending this email to understand the same things of you? Do they automatically think that they can trust your company, what you are trying to sell and the value of the offering?

In order to create more effective email and text campaigns to customers, you must create and continue to nurture the in-person relationship with your customers.

When customers visit your place of business make sure that you interact with them on a personal level. Discover their wants and needs and what is important in their lives. That way you can personalize your on-line correspondence with these customers. Be sure to ask for the sale, while they are visiting. Let customers know that you believe in the products, which may make them more willing to buy again when you send them an email.

Part of your customers’ records should include how often they visit our store, whether they come to events and which ones they attend. Also keep track of how many you times you speak to them on the phone, whether they call you or you called them and the topic of the call. This enables you to know your customers’ buying habits.

Customers are the lifeblood of your business and should always be considered your most important asset.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

e_T4Q6892 low-res -c bw s

The Best and Less of Customer Service

Last week was an interesting week for me. Tuesday, I went for a walk with a friend of mine in the local regional park. While there I tripped over a rock and eventually found out that I had fractured my distal femur condyle (a u-shaped bone just above my knee). A bone that, until this time, I had never heard of. Think of it looking like a goblet with a u-shaped indentation at the top, rather like a wishbone. Take the two parts of a wishbone and pull the two sides apart. Usually, one side shears off. That was my femur condyle.

The orthopedic doc operated that night, putting in a plate and some screws. I spent the rest of the week in the hospital being poked and prodded. They took enough blood out of me that more had to be added. Of course, there was the startling awakening at 4 a.m. each morning for more blood to be taken.

In all my years (and there have been many of them) I have never (not even when I was born) spent a night in a hospital. I had no idea what to expect and so was amazed at the impressive attention to customer service, engagement and the cheerfulness of the nursing, therapy, cleaning, and services staff. They were all amazing.

The doctors seem to have a harder time with customer service, and while no one was rude, it was almost as if they had not been taught to interact with patients. They were good when explaining what was wrong but seemed to have no idea on what terms to use when addressing me. I am not sure that doctors are taught how to put people at ease. So perhaps as a sideline I can start presenting seminars on Customer Service for Medical Professionals.

A tip of the glass (if I can tip it while I am holding onto the walker) from me to you!

e_T4Q6892 low-res -c bw s

Take a Step Back

The approach of summer and the good weather during this season bring more customers out of their houses and into your winery, store, restaurant or other retail business.

During the height of the busy season, it is often more of a challenge to provide the levels of customer service that encourage people to buy your products or services and to return. To accomplish your sales and service goals during the busy season it helps if, before it starts, you have a plan. So take a few minutes to create a plan for your sales and service team (if you are an owner or a manager) or for yourself (if you are on the front lines).

How are you going to ensure that each customer is treated well, appreciated and given the attention s/he needs to go away with the opinion that s/he is a valued customer?

Here are a few tips:

Put Your Assumptions on Hold

Unless the person who walks through the door is a regular customer, try not to make assumptions about who they are, what they may or may not know or whether they will buy or not.

Give the Customer a Chance to Talk

Ask the customer questions that will give you the information you need to meet their needs and expectations. When you are giving the customer the answers to their questions, you can also work in how you can fulfill their needs and expectations.

Make the Customer an Insider

What do you know about your product or service, company or owners that your customer might like to know and pass along to their friends? Most of us like to have information our friends don’t have. Also never underestimate people’s willingness to buy to impress their friends.

Let Customers Know You Like Them

  • Give your customers something they weren’t expecting.
  • Let them know you enjoyed their visit.
  • Thank them for coming.
  • If you have the opportunity walk them to the door.

These are simple tips that will make customers buy from you, return to buy more and recommend your business to their friends.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

e_T4Q6892 low-res -c bw s

Emotion Sells

As salespeople, we tend to think that we are going to sell more through our expertise or having lots of information about the product (obviously product knowledge is important though it cannot stand alone) and by providing top-notch customer service. All these things are important. However, the real key is to appeal to the customers’ emotions.

While scientists used to believe the decision to make a purchase was made from the rational mind, it turns out that emotions are in charge throughout the decision-making process. Throughout our lives we make decisions emotionally. Only after the emotional decision has been made does the customer then justify that decision with rational reasoning.  This is when the good sales person re-affirms the rational reasons why the product or service is a good buy.

According to marketing professor, Raj Raghunathan, even people who believe that emotional decisions are not the main reason they buy, those who consider themselves to be very rational are more prone to fall into this trap.

When you work with customers in any capacity you will sell more when you engage emotions and when you start the interaction with the idea that these people are going to buy from you. The earlier you make the emotional connection the better off you are. Once your customers have made the decision that they like what you have to offer they are less likely to back out of the transaction, according to the researchers.

Be cheerful, complimentary and engage the customers’ emotions. While the facts about the product or service are important, first you have to engage the emotions if you really want to make the sale, as the rational part of the brain will only be used to justify their emotional choices.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

e_T4Q6892 low-res -c bw s

More on Sales

When people come into your business do they already know that they are or are not going to buy from you? The answer to that question is no, they don’t. How many times have you walked into a business with no intention of buying anything and bought anyway?

As a salesperson, your job is not to assume that someone is or is not going to buy. Though if you have to make an assumption, assume that the customers in front of you are going to buy. If you assume that your customers are not going to buy, did they then not buy because they weren’t ever going to buy or did they not buy because you treated them differently in some subtle ways that may not be picked up by the conscious mind but will be stored away by the subconscious? Also, the subconscious mind contains information that we are not actively aware of but may nonetheless influence decision-making.

Research has shown that customers will make instinctive decisions with their subconscious mind. As consumers, we are not aware of what’s in our subconscious. Although that we may still be influenced by things we have heard, seen or experienced before stored in the subconscious.

As humans, we prefer things that are familiar to us as well as simple to understand. Make it simple for your customers to understand your products and to make decisions to purchase.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

e_T4Q6892 low-res -c bw s

Using Testimonials to Encourage Sales

There are lots of ways to encourage customers to buy. When considering various avenues to promote sales, there are a few things you need to think about.

  1. There is always a cost involved with any option to promotion your business. Promotion costs either money or time. If it’s not costing you money, it is costing you time.
  2. Regardless of the methods of promotion you choose to use, it is important to track the results to make sure you are getting the response you want and hope for. For example, if you send out emails regularly to encourage sales, you need to track the percentage of people who open the emails, click through to the offer and how many take the final step and buy.

Shown below is an example of one low-cost way to promote your products.

Testimonials

Research has shown that reviews from other customers are as important to those who are thinking of buying from you as are reviews from “an expert” or someone famous. Using testimonials from past or current customers can and will encourage new customers to purchase.

Ask your customers to review your products or service or provide a testimonial with the reasons why they buy from you.

Once you have got these testimonials use them in different ways:

  • Ask customers to phone and record their testimonial or review. Use these recorded testimonials on your business phone for callers to hear while they are on hold. These reviews will be a lot more effective than music.
  • Put customer testimonials on your website. Have a tab for Reviews or Testimonials.
  • Ask customers to leave reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp and other popular review sites.
  • Have a book of customer testimonials in the winery or store that people can browse through while they are waiting.
  • Put customer reviews at the bottom of your outgoing emails in the area of your contact information.
  • If you are doing these things, ask customers if they have seen the reviews or testimonials and if the service, products, etc. have lived up to reviews they read

Remember, peer reviews are important to other customers.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

e_T4Q6892 low-res -c bw s