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!

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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!

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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!

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Are Your Customers Having Fun?

How often do your make your customers smile or laugh? Is it at least once during any interaction? Well, almost any interaction; if someone comes in seething with resentment, first you need to relax them, then solve their problem. After that, you might make them smile or laugh.

Anytime you can make a customer smile you are closer to a connection and therefore closer to a sale.

Smiling or laughing relaxes people, relieves stresses and is good for their health. If you can make someone smile, you will usually smile as well, which is also good for your stress level and your health.

Greet customers with a smile and more often than not they will smile back at you.  When you smile you appear open and willing to help them. That can relax the customers and put them in a more receptive mood to listen to what you have to say.

Most of us will frequent businesses where we feel we are valued by the staff and owners. Sharing a laugh with a customer makes him/her feel valued, more cheerful and    more willing to buy. Though humor can be a double-edged sword, when used well it is a great sales tool.

There are times to use humor and times to be serious. As you get to know a customer, a sales person may use a joke or quip to relax the customer and enhance connection. Remember though that we do not know the opinions of the customer to many different things, so don’t assume that your customers have the same belief system that you do. They also may mot have the same understanding of sarcasm, so unless you know the customer well and understand their viewpoints don’t use it.

The time to be serious is when you are presenting the key points about your product as humor may also disrupt the customer’s ability to weigh the pros and cons of buying the product.

Be cheerful, smile and use humor to increase comfort levels and your sales will increase.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Customer Service: The Good, The Bad, And The Very Ugly

After watching a segment on the television about a couple of companies that offer customer service that is above and beyond the norm, earlier this week, I decided to write my blog on customer service, talking about some companies that really go out of their way.

On Monday along came the story about United Airlines dragging a paying customer out of his seat and off an airplane. I was amazed. Not only at the removal of the man by airline security people but also by the fact that none of these people gave any thought to the fact that cell phones (which are ubiquitous these days) have cameras. It was not a pretty video.

This was followed up by a less than stellar “apology” from the CEO of United Airlines. All in all an extremely bad day for United, its employees and (it seems from the internet) its share prices.

That takes care of the bad and very ugly, as this incident definitely fits into both those categories.

On the other side, there are some great examples of customer service. Land’s End company will always refund the purchase price of any item. In fact, the information on the Land’s End website states:

“Guaranteed. Period.

If you are not satisfied with any item, return it to us at any time for an exchange or refund of its purchase price.”

That type of service with no questions asked is bound to make consumers life-long customers of Land’s End.

Another shining example is Nordstrom, a company known for the excellent treatment of their customers.

Of course, it’s not only no hassle return policies, it’s also the quality of service, being polite, friendly, interested in the customer and ready to help. All these will increase your sales and keep your customers coming back again and again.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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It’s Important To Be Important!

It’s nice to feel important. Think about the last time someone (a friend, family member or a business) made you feel important. What does that do to your mood in the moment or the way you feel for the rest of the day?

In order to make your visitors and customers important, you have to get to know them. In the case of first-time visitors, you start by observing as they walk through the door. First-time visitors who may not be familiar with wine tasting may be more hesitant when they arrive. Being aware of that fact gives you a clue as to their level of comfort or discomfort. If visitors are hesitant, you can start by making them comfortable. There are many people who come into wineries, who have never been to a winery before. They may be unsure of how things work and what is expected from them. So reassure them that knowing about wine is not a prerequisite to having a good time. Ditch the insider lingo and speak in terms the visitors will understand while still giving them information that will make them more knowledgeable. Ask for their names and become their friend.

Conversely, you make regular customers feel important by greeting them by name, telling them you are glad to see them again and asking them how life is going for them. This lets them and (sometimes more importantly) others in the room know that they are well liked and appreciated.

It sounds easy and it is as long as you are focusing on your visitors needs, wants and desires, rather than launching directly into your regular spiel about the products and winery.

Practice being aware of body language, questions asked and answers given. You will always gain more loyal customers and sell more when the focus is squarely on the customers and visitors. The primary goal is to make friends and to create connections.

After that, the sales will follow. People who are engaged are more willing to buy.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Using Customer Reviews to Improve Your Business

In this era of increasing customer involvement, you immediately know how many of your customers feel about your company as you can see what they think of your products and services on any number of review websites.

Most of us in business will look at Yelp and TripAdvisor, but think about other places where we can find reviews. If you sell through Amazon, or Angie’s List take a look at their customer reviews.  Also, check Consumer Reports, Google for Business, Yahoo listings and don’t forget Facebook and Twitter.

While I was researching this topic, I found an article by Ankit Roy that gives some tips on using reviews to market your brand. He also gives a number of statistics that you should find interesting:

  • 88% of people read reviews (Brightlocal.com).
  • 72% of consumers say possible reviews make them “trust a local business” (Moresocialsuccesspartners.com)
  • Reliability, experience and professionalism are the most important reputation traits for local businesses (Invespcro.com)
  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews “as much as personal recommendations (Mdfadvertising.com)
  • A customer is likely to “spend 31% more on a business” with excellent reviews (Webfeat.net)

Those are some impressive stats.

If you are not paying attention to reviews you are missing out on some important information from your customers. Reading them, of course, is only the beginning.

Once you have read the reviews, it’s important to respond to them in a timely manner, whether the reviews are positive or negative. A few words in answer to a positive review can make a customer who already likes you like you even more. A response to a negative review can help change a customer’s mind if your response is helpful and solves the problem. Some of the most loyal customers are those that have had a problem with a company and seen it resolved to their satisfaction.

So check the reviews regularly (all the time) and share good reviews in promotional emails with the rest of your customers.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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