A best practice for sales people by Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.
There are several very common temptations that routinely present themselves to the field salesperson. One is to become too reactive. When you succumb to this temptation, you eventually default to a mindset that sees your job as essentially being your customer’s gofer. You determine where to go and what to do on the basis of who wants something from you at the moment. Thus, where you go on Monday depends on who called on Friday.
Another temptation is to be lulled by the repetitive nature of the business-to-business selling situation into a mindless routine. When you succumb to this temptation, you quit thinking about the most effective actions, and give in to the lure of the routine. It’s 10 AM on Tuesday, and you are at account ABC. Why are you here? Because it’s 10 AM on Tuesday. That’s what you do. It’s been years, if ever, that you thought about why you are here. You just are.
Both of these create salespeople of marginal performance, because they rob the salesperson of one of his most powerful assets: The ability to invest his/her selling time where it will produce the greatest return on time invested.
There is, however, a discipline that serves as a counter-weight to these temptations. The best salespeople routinely and with discipline and method, create a monthly plan for the investment of their time.
The monthly plan is an essential discipline that holds the two temptations discussed above at bay, and, at the same time, produces decisions that lead to the most effective actions.
It is a best practice of the best, and one of the Five Key Disciplines that we teach participants in our Kahle Way® Selling System.
A monthly plan is just that – a plan that you create for the investment of your selling time over the next 30 days. You do one every month, at the beginning of the month.
Normally, it will take you 30 to 90 minutes. In it, you complete a two-page form that asks you to identify the most effective actions you can take during the coming month, by category. For example, the monthly plan lists each of your target accounts, and asks for a one-line description of what progress you want to make this month in each of those accounts.
If your company expects higher performance on key product lines, then planning for this month’s efforts in regard to those is another category.
If you have some expectations for acquiring new customers, those efforts are described and to which you are committed.
You identify those opportunities that are closest to the money, and describe what progress you are going to make to bring them to closure.
You identify and commit to your efforts to improve yourself this month.
All of these are areas on which you focus, make decisions about, and then commit in writing to specific actions.
The result? A plan for the most effective use of your sales time next month.
It is a regular discipline of the best. To learn more, consider The Kahle Way® Distributor Selling System, or The Kahle Way® Business-to-Business Selling System.
Image “08:40″ by Alberto676 on Flickr under Creative Commons license.
This is a best practice for sales people by Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.
Article by Dave Kahle
This is one of those pieces of conventional wisdom that no one seems to question: “It’s good to be passionate about your product.” Like so many of these conventional myths that ingrain themselves into our psyche, this one has the potential for frustrating countless thousands of sales people, sales managers and chief sales officers.
Let me reassure you: It is not necessary to be passionate about your product or service in order to sell it effectively. In fact, your passion may be a detriment to an effective sales process.
Before you impale me on the skewers of this deeply-help belief, let’s consider this together.
The dictionary definition of “passion” is this: “enthusiastic — showing or having intense emotion.” In a business sense, we commonly think of passion as arising from a conviction that our product or service is a great value, or has some really unique features. So, when we are passionate about our product/service, we are so enamored with it that we become enthusiastic promoters of it. This enthusiasm is thought to be a good thing, and managers everywhere promote it.
Enthusiasm about your product is, however, greatly overrated, for a number of reasons. Let’s look at them.
First, enthusiasm comes out of you, the sales person. It arises out of your unique combination of life experiences and values. It says something about you, but has nothing to do with the customer, and says nothing about the product.
For example, you can have two sales people viewing the same product. One, a young, inexperienced sales person, is enthusiastic about the product. The other, a more experienced veteran, is much more objective and less emotional about the product. In that very real example, does the sales person’s passion arise out of the product or out of the person? Clearly, it says something about the person, and that person’s lack of experience.
I believe that experienced purchasers often view a sales person’s enthusiasm about a product as an indication of that person’s naivety and inexperience.
But, that’s not all. In fact, enthusiasm can be a detriment to servicing the customer because it clouds the communication process and weighs it heavily on the side of the seller. It holds your (the sales person’s) opinions up as more important than the customer’s.
When you are passionate about a product, you naturally want to talk about the product – after all, it’s so great that you are enthusiastic about it. And that enthusiasm then means that you don’t inquire deeply into the customer’s needs, interests or desires. Your enthusiasm often overrides your attention to the customer.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you are looking for a car, and have in mind a used, small SUV. You visit a car dealer, and a sales person introduces himself. You explain what you are looking for. The sales person walks you over to a new car – a model that has just been introduced. It has some really great new features, and the sales person is clearly enthusiastic about it. He goes on and on and you can tell that he is passionate about this new car. You listen politely, and then excuse yourself.
His enthusiasm got in the way of your needs. Perhaps if he weren’t so passionate, because he liked the new car, he would have spent more time trying to meet your needs. While he may have liked it, you weren’t particularly interested.
His passion was based on his opinion, his needs, and his interests, and not yours. So, passion comes out of the sales person’s experience and needs, not those of your customers. Passion can interfere with the sales process.
Passion can also blind you to the truth. Here’s an example. There was a reality TV show on for a while that rated people’s inventions. One inventor has created a wooden board game. It required a large wooden construction, larger than an ordinary card table to play. It looked like an interesting game, but the judges criticized the need for this construction, particularly in a day when far more fascinating games are routinely available for a fraction of the cost on smart phones and tablets.
The inventor stuck to his guns. He was passionate. He had invested his life savings in this game, and was enthusiastic about it. His passion and enthusiasm blinded him to the truth: It wasn’t very saleable. He would be better served by cutting his losses and moving on. Alas, his passion wouldn’t let him do that. His passion had blinded him to the truth, and interfered with a more rational decision.
Early in my career I was engaged by an entrepreneur in a similar situation. He had created a device that would alert the parents of school age children when the bus was about to appear at their bus stop. He was passionate about it, and invested lots of time and money into the product. Unfortunately, the market just did not want it. It took a couple of years and hundreds of thousands of dollars for him to find that out. His passion stood in the place of a wise decision.
As a veteran sales consultant, I routinely see people who are suffering in the aftermath of a passion, misplaced. They find or create an effort or company based on a passionate belief in something. However, their passion blinded them to the realities of the market. In a last ditch effort to rescue their vision, they call for the consultant. Unfortunately, I can rarely help them. Typically, they have depleted their resources in a mistaken effort that just a little more of some marketing effort would open the flood gates, and the world would share their passion and recognize their product.
The self-improvement literature is littered with exhortations to be ‘passionate’, to follow your passions, etc. Various examples are put forth of people achieving great things by being enthusiastic and following their passions. But very seldom does one see the far more common story – a misplaced passionate enthusiasm resulting in defeated dreams, mediocre performance and human potential squandered.
From my perspective, I’ll take experience, commitment and skill over passion every day of the week. There is a problem with passion.
Copyright MMXIII by Dave Kahle
All rights reserved
Image by MyEyeSees on Flickr under Creative Commons license.
Breaking the ice with new customers is based on the initial meeting or point of contact. With that, it is important to have an understanding of the prospect’s purpose and goals. Preparation and planning for that initial meeting is imperative.
Although we use the word ‘meet’ to describe our first contact with new clients and others, what really matters is whether we connect with them. Whether you ultimately want to focus on selling office furniture, IT equipment, or marketing services to the customer, you have to first make a connection.
Every process is easier if you have a strategy.
The best way to ensure that will happen is to have a strategy. Strategies for breaking the ice with new customers should include careful prep work, and the meeting must include interacting with the individuals.
Strategies do not come with 100% guarantees; however, almost everyone agrees that talking with clients and customers is a great way to initiate a connection. It’s what to say and how to say it that seems to cause concerns.
As mentioned, breaking the ice is not just meeting and greeting a customer; the goal is to make a true connection. In order to do that, it is important to initiate a conversation. Ideally that conversation will start on a positive note.
Real conversations are built on the exchange of ideas. This means each person gives and shares thoughts. As the conversation takes place, other things should also be happening. For instance, this is the time to work at finding a way to link the person with his or her name and personality and ideas.
Preparation for the Connection
Learning all you can about the person or business before the meeting makes it easier to know how to break the ice. Besides providing basic information that will be helpful, the knowledge learned can help you feel more confident and comfortable about the meeting.
It’s also a good idea to learn something about what is happening in the niche or industry that might impact the individual or business. In today’s world, it is usually a simple process to find information about industries, people, and businesses online.
Arming yourself with this information makes starting conversations a simple process. In addition, it makes it easier to align yourself with the potential customers’ perspectives.
Body Language Speaks
Your body language may say more than your words do. This means it is important to give consideration to the way you dress and present yourself. Plus, the tone of your voice and the way you say things does matter.
Customers are people, and they want to connect with individuals they feel comfortable with. Most people feel comfortable with someone who displays confidence and authenticity.
Do you present yourself with confidence and poise?
Sometimes it’s the simple things that get overlooked. That is, we forget to smile and make eye contact or to offer a firm handshake. Once again, preparation counts. Good posture along with appropriate attire is a great start in the preparation for a meeting with a new or potential customer.
Align with the Potential Client
After preparing for the meeting, you will have some information about what matters most to the potential customer. But keep in mind that establishing a real rapport will make the meeting go more smoothly.
Take the time to ease into the conversation. As the discussion unfolds, it is your job to actively listen to what the potential client is saying. Listen for the deeper messages. This allows you the opportunity to provide insights about how your company or products can help the client meet his or her needs.
Listen closely for the deeper message behind the words spoken.
Although you have lots to say about your business or product, it is very important that you listen closely to what the client has to say. Much can be learned about a client’s needs, goals, and desires through the information he/she shares.
After all, most meetings are restricted to a tight time frame. With that in mind, whatever the client spends time talking about ranks high on his/her priority list.
When your focus is on breaking the ice with new clients, your real goal should be on ways you can help the potential customers. Approaching the task in this manner takes the mystery out of the process and suddenly potential customers become people that have needs.
Planning and preparing for the meeting will help ensure there will be a true connection. If you are sincere in your efforts to help and you respectfully listen to the client’s ideas and perspectives, most ice-breaking meetings will turn into much more.
About the author:
Debbie Allen is a freelance writer and online marketer who often writes about business topics such as online reputation and selling office furniture.
Image “Business Strategy” courtesy of ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image “Confident Young Businessman Posing Casually” courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image “Thoughtful Business Person” courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This is a Sales Question and Answer article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator. Follow Dave’s latest Tweets at @davekahle.
Q. What are your views on dress? Does it matter?
A. Sure it matters. Everything that you say and do matters. Dress can be a powerful part of your persona. On one hand, how you dress can facilitate your objectives and make you more effective, and on the other, inappropriate dress can present an obstacle to your interaction with customers.
Let’s get some basics out of the way.
1. Your dress should never be provocative or suggestive.
2. Your dress should never be outlandish or foolish.
Now, let’s get down to the strategic use of dress. Here is the next rule:
3. Dress like your customers, only a little better.
Your dress should convey to the customer that you are like him/her, not different from them. There was a time when men wearing a suit and tie, and women a skirted suit was the expected mode of dress. However, if you are calling on maintenance supervisors, foremen, or uniformed personnel, for example, that suit and tie separated you from your customer, making you seem aloof and unapproachable.
So, how does your customer dress?
One of my clients sold supplies to farmers. Dressing in flannel shirts, blue jeans and boots was OK, because that was how the farmers dressed. Note the second part of the rule, ”a little better.” That’s where your positioning as a successful, competent person comes in. You should, within the context of the customer’s world, look successful, competent and confident. So, if you are going to wear jeans and flannel shirts, they should be good quality jeans, (a good brand name), clean and pressed. Your flannel shirt should be a better than average brand, clean and pressed.
If are calling on management level people, it gets a little more challenging. In today’s world, some companies adhere to a coat and tie discipline, where others prescribe “business casual” for their employees. Honestly, I keep notes in my customer files as to what the mode of dress is in that organization. I keep it simple by using two categories: C&T (coat & tie), and BC (business casual). When I’m making one of my rare live sales calls, I check the file the day before so that I know how to dress.
One of the sales people in one of my classes shared his approach with me. He explained that he always wore grey dress slacks, a light blue button down collar shirt, a tie and a navy blazer. That way, he could dress up or down, depending on the situation. With the tie and blazer, he felt comfortable calling on coat and tie executives. If the call required a conversation with a front line supervisor, he’d remove the tie, and leave the blazer in the car. A nice approach. I’m sure there is a similar outfit that can be spontaneously dressed up or down for the women as well.
4. Once you have incorporated the previous three rules, if you want to take this issue to the level of the masters, and then incorporate the final rule: Dress in a way that expresses your own unique style and persona.
I’ve come across sales people who always wear lapel pins, for example. I vividly recall one sales person who wore the loudest tie I ever saw. When I asked him about it, he indicated that he found these very loud ties to be a conversation starter and a unique emblem of his. People remembered him for it.
In the last couple of years, I’ve come, more or less by accident, to develop a “style” of my own. Whenever I speak, I always wear a silk or cotton mock turtle neck shirt with a sport coat or blazer. Even though I routinely speak at conferences and conventions to audiences in the hundreds, I seldom wear a tie. That combination is now my style. I arrived at it by chance. Since I travel so much, like all frequent travelers, I try to fit everything in a carry-on. The silk shirts can be rolled in a ball and stuffed into the tiniest corners of a carry-on, without showing wrinkles or taking up nearly as much space as a starched shirt. After a while, I’ve standardized on them.
Hope this helps.
Article By Dave Kahle
Image “Adult Man Fastening Tie” courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The Internet is the first place people turn when they want to learn more about something or someone. Think about it. What’s the first thing you do after thinking “I wonder…”? You type the thing you’re wondering about into Google or another search engine. This is the same thing others will do when they want to find out more about you.
Your online reputation is what people are going to use to judge you and decide whether or not they want to do business with you. So when they Google (or Bing or Yahoo!) you, what do they see?
What Others Think
When you search for something/someone online, some of the first things you are going to find (after the website that you spent months getting on to the first page of Google) are reviews, articles, posts, etc., that talk about you and what you have to offer. They will see what others have experienced when working with you and what they thought of that experience.
What fills those speech bubbles when people talk about you?
How You Respond to Criticism
What do you do when someone posts a negative review or a piece of negative feedback about you? The first thing someone is going to do when they find that review or article is check to see what kind of response you have to it. How you handle a situation that is not entirely within your control says a lot about you and what kind of person (or business) you are to work with.
Your Commitment to Your Community
People want to know how community-oriented you are. Sometimes this is literal: They want to see if you do volunteer work or help people who need it. The rest of the time, they want to see how much time and effort you put into giving to others. Is everything you post a thinly veiled sales pitch? Or (preferably), do you put at least as much effort into simply entertaining, informing and helping your audience? Do you give more than you try to take?
Who You Are Personally
When someone types in your name or your business’s name, they are undoubtedly going to come across some information and evidence of who you are outside of work (your personal Facebook page, for example). Remember, humans are inherently curious creatures. They want to know as much about you as possible—they’re going to click on your personal social media links, blogs, etc.
Is this you?
Your Competition/Campaign Style
What you say about others, particularly those who compete against you in the marketplace, says a lot about you. Do you put a lot of time and energy into trashing your competition? Or do you acknowledge them as worthy competitors and simply work hard to make yourself look as good as possible? A potential customer is going to want to know why you think you’re the best and how you address that question says quite a lot about who you are.
Each of these brushes helps paint the portrait that is you. Before you let that freak you out, think about this: You do have some say in what kind of online reputation you build for your company. You are in control of what you put out into the world. What you put out into the world has a direct impact on your reputation. Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward!
About the author:
Erin Steiner is a writer and vlogger from Portland, Oregon. She has written extensively about small business, personal finance and internet related topics.
Image ‘Social Network’ courtesy of Renjith Krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.Net
Image ‘Malice’ courtesy of Rattigon/FreeDigitalPhotos.Net
As a sales manager when I get together with some of my colleagues the conversation is often centered on what deals each of our teams has closed. My colleagues seem focused on the size of the deal or the number of deals coming in. One day I decided to ask a question that seemed to confuse them all: where do your sales opportunities actually come from?
I received various answers from leads, customers, phone calls and even the internet. The real question that I should’ve asked is “what steps did you or your team take to win those sales and how are you tracking that.” When I did pose that question; I received mostly silence and one of my colleagues even challenged me on why it is even important.
Quite simply; it’s critically important to track the steps or processes you used to generate new sales so you can emulate what is working and stop doing the things that aren’t. If you aren’t tracking what you did to generate a sale; how do you know what made the customer buy or how that customer learned about your product or service. Personally, I don’t like to leave the sales of my company up to chance.
My colleagues of course demanded to know how I do this and again my answer was simple. I use an automated online CRM system to track where my sales opportunities come from.
The system called Commence CRM has a customizable sales source button that allows me to put in my sources and track them accordingly. Some examples of my sales sources are cold calls, referrals, website inquiries, e-mail campaigns and inbound calls. It also allows me to track new business opportunities by industry so that I can determine if we are doing better in one industry sector verses another.
When I started using Commence CRM to track how sales were being generated I discovered that I had a sales person who was a very strong prospector; he was getting appointments, doing presentations and closing sales. His formula seemed to work very well, and the key was knowing where the lead was being generated from and what industry the prospect was in. He used the strength of the company’s customer base and testimonials to support that he had a solid solution designed specifically for their industry the prospect was in. His success drove me to want to emulate this process for the entire sales staff.
Needless to say my colleagues became convinced that tracking what sources you are using to generate sales can play a vital role in increasing your chances of winning business. They also had an increased interest in using a CRM tool to track this sort of data.
About the author:
Tom Gibson is a sales manager who is considered an expert on sales techniques, CRM and business development.
Commence Corporation, a leading provider of online CRM software, has teamed up with Dave Kahle of the Kahle Way sales system to provide customers with a winning formula for improving sales execution and performance. Start with a top rated CRM solution for contact and account management, lead management, sales opportunity and pipeline management, sales reporting and sales workflow automation. Complement this with sales representative and sales management training from an industry expert to create and implement a structured sales process that will deliver more sales more quickly.
The Kahle Way® Sales Management System focuses on enriching salespeople and transforming sales organizations by first creating a sales process that delivers results, then automating the process using Commence Corporation’s online CRM software. This combination has proven to streamline the sales process, improve close ratios and deliver accurate monthly and quarterly sales reporting.
“We have found that many small to mid-size companies have not implemented a structured sales process.” says Tom Gibson, sales manager at Commence. “Our CRM software provides the ability to automate the sales process, but the customer must first outline the process they wish to use. The Kahle Way provides sales managers and salespeople with a structured process that works, and reinforces sales best practices such as:
These are just several of the Kahle Way processes incorporated right within the Commence CRM software. This enables customers to get going quickly and see results faster. It just makes sense.” says Gibson. “Match high quality sales training with a top rated online CRM solution and you are going to improve close ratios, win more business and streamline your sales process.”
A best practice for sales people by Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.
The best salespeople are habitual goal-setters. There’s a good reason for that. When you set a goal, you survey the world of all possible things that you could possibly do, and decide which of those things are the most important. You then turn that decision into a goal. And that goal then influences your day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month decisions.
I’ve often maintained that a field salesperson has a set of decisions to make, over and over in the course of every single day. Those decisions are these:
Who to see?
What to do?
Where to go?
The ability to consistently make these decisions effectively will, more than any other single thing, impact that person’s productivity and eventual success as a salesperson.
When you create a handful of specific, measurable sales goals, you develop a set of criteria which help you make those all important decisions more effectively.
For example, let’s say that one of your sales goals is: To penetrate my “A” accounts more fully by selling each at least two more categories of product.
It’s Tuesday morning, and you have a number of conflicting demands on your time. You have a “C” customer who has a problem and has asked for you to visit to help them solve the problem. You have a quote to prepare for a bid request by a “B” prospect. You have a list of materials that you need to pick up at the office. You’d really like to have a conversation with your boss about the competition’s action in one of your accounts. And you have the opportunity to discuss one of your categories of product with an “A” account. You can’t possibly do all this today. What do you do? Who do you see? Where do you go?
Refer back to your sales goal. There, you identified the most important things that you can do, and committed to them in a written goal statement. The answer, then, is a no-brainer. You go to the A account and have the new category discussion.
Too many salespeople see sales goals as arbitrary and sometimes unrealistic expectations. That ignores the incredible power of a sales goal to influence and direct our daily decisions about the investment of our time.
To dig deeper into this issue, see Ten Secrets of Time Management for Salespeople, and visit www.salestimemanagement.com for a variety of resources.
If you’d like a multimedia training session, visit The Sales Resource Center® and view Pod-69.
Image by Found Animals Foundation on Flickr under Creative Commons license.
This is a Sales Time Management article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.
Article by Dave Kahle
Effective sales time management is the greatest challenge facing sales professionals.
I just had a conversation with a sales manager at my last seminar. The gist of it is this: he has so many competing responsibilities; it is difficult to spend time with his sales team. Sound familiar? It should. I have heard that idea expressed countless times by executives, sales managers and sales people. In one way or another, sales professionals find themselves increasingly occupied by trivial tasks at the expense of the important ones. Effective sales time management is the greatest challenge facing sales professionals in this turbulent economy. It is an epidemic that is raging unabated in our economy. It renders people unproductive, and organizations operating at a fraction of their potential. It often comes from what I call “other stuff.” Over the years, I have seen this phenomenon to be so pervasive that years ago I labeled it and gave it its own acronym: OSE. That stands for “Other Stuff Expansion.”
The rule is this: When you give a proactive sales person “other stuff” to do, the other stuff will always expand, taking more in time and energy than you anticipated, and rendering the proactive sales efforts to an unacceptable smaller part of the person’s labors.
Here’s how this looks in practice. A branch manager needs someone to fill in a couple of hours a day for a customer service person who has taken a maternity leave. “The salesman can do it,” the branch manager thinks in a flash of inspiration. “He’s got time.”
Presto. The problem is solved.
But, alas, the couple of hours a day turn into a half day, and sometimes more, as the sales person gets caught up in reacting to the inbound calls. Those proactive sales calls that should have been made in that time are never made. The silent costs of that decision and the inevitable “Other Stuff Expansion” begin to be felt months down the road.
Or, you have a sales manager check out that promising new product line, or write that new procedure because he/she “understands that,” and, of course, you’re too busy.
Or, you have inside sales people who also answer the phone and respond to inbound calls, and you are constantly frustrated that they don’t make enough outbound calls.
The example can go on and on. A quick perusal of your sales efforts will unearth dozens, I’m sure.
There’s a simple explanation for this. Making proactive sales calls is a high risk effort that requires initiative, motivation and self-discipline. In other words, it’s hard to do. That’s one of the reasons why most people aren’t sales people. On the other hand, taking care of “other stuff” is usually low-risk, easier and somewhat fulfilling. And, it keeps you busy.
That’s why, “When you give a proactive sales person “other stuff” to do, the other stuff will always expand, taking more in time and energy than you anticipated, and rendering the proactive sales efforts to an unacceptable smaller part of the person’s labors. “ It’s the law of OSE.
In a bigger picture, OSE for sales personnel is just the specific application of a deeper rule. That rule is this: When you give someone something to do, you are, by that act, preventing him/her from doing something else. Or, to be more personal, when we accept the responsibility for doing something, we, by that action, eliminate the possibility of our doing something else.
What sounds blatantly obvious is open reflection, so often violated that it has become one of the major productivity killers, and one of the most common mistakes made today by managers and self-managers of all kinds.
Here are two solutions
a. If you have given, or are tempted to give, anyone who has proactive sales responsibilities, other things to do – don’t! There is always a greater cost than meets the eye. If you are a salesperson who has other stuff to do, try to hand it back to your manager or pass it on to someone else.
Be very careful about giving responsibilities, or accepting responsibilities, that detract from your core focus. In today’s hectic, multi-tasking world, it is more powerful to say “no” than it is to say “yes.”
b. OK, you can’t do that. For whatever reason, your sales personnel must also do other stuff. Plan B. Keep the division between the two sets of competing responsibilities as clean and sharp as you can. So, the other stuff should be well defined, have clear guidelines for completion, and be limited to a specific period of time.
So, for example, don’t say this: “John, we want you to do this other stuff.” Instead say, “John, I’d like you to spend ½ day every other week doing this other stuff.”
By keeping the divisions clear between the competing responsibilities, you limit the damage done by other stuff expansion.
In the long run, it’s those organizations and individuals who focus on the core tasks and don’t diffuse their efforts who succeed.
About the author:
Dave Kahle has trained tens of thousands of B2B sales people and sales managers to be more effective in the 21st Century economy. He’s authored nine books, and presented in 47 states and eight countries. His latest book, Eleven Secrets of Time Management has just been released.
Sign up for FREE sales course at The Sales Resource Center.com, as well as the free weekly Ezine.
Copyright MMXIII by Dave Kahle
All Rights Reserved.
Image “Focus” by ihtatho on Flickr under Creative Commons license.
This is a Sales Question and Answer article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator. Follow Dave’s latest Tweets at @davekahle.
Article By Dave Kahle
Q. If you dropped the ball with a customer, how can you redeem their trust again?
A. By “dropped the ball”, you can be referring to two different situations. First, it was your company who messed up. Your company didn’t fulfill the promises you made. Or, second, it was you. You didn’t do what you said you would do, or you somehow personally violated the customer’s expectations for you. Regardless, the remedy is similar.
You must make a personal, heartfelt and detailed apology, as soon as possible. And you must do that to everyone who is impacted by the problem. If the problem was your company, apologize on behalf of the company. If the problem was you, personally apologize.
You do that first, because that eases the tension in the situation and acknowledges the impact on the customer. Remember, you are building a relationship with these people, and, as in all relationships, sometimes things don’t go quite right. An apology is a great way to clear the air. Most people will tend to accept your apology and not hold it against you. Everyone makes mistakes.
Now comes the hard part. While most people will accept your apology, they won’t necessarily forget the infraction. It’s like catching one of your teenagers smoking dope. He may ask for your forgiveness, and you may give it, but it is prudent for you to watch him carefully for the next few years. You can forgive, but you are wise to not forget.
Same thing with your customers. It’s one thing to forgive, it’s another to forget. They won’t forget quickly or easily. So you have to earn their trust back by your actions, not your words. You’ve got to consistently do what you say you are going to do. Your company must, time after time, do what you say they will do.
Regaining trust is, in most cases, a long term project. It’s much easer to lose a customer’s trust than it is to gain it. Your actions, consistent and reliable, backed up by your heartfelt interest in the customer, will, over time, win them back.
You’ll find this encouraging. A number of years ago, a study was done on two different buying situations. In the first, a company bought from a new vendor, and everything went well. The company delivered as promised. In the second, a company bought from a new vendor, and there was a problem with the purchase. The sales person inquired, discovered the problem, apologized and fixed it.
The researchers went to study in which of those two situations was the customer more likely to purchase again the second time. Interestingly, those customers in the second situation were far more likely to buy again.
If you’ve been following me for any time, you know why that is – risk!
The vendors in the second situation were now viewed as lower risk than those in the first. In other words, the customers now knew how the company would respond to a problem. Since they now had proof of the company’s commitment in a worst case scenario, they felt more secure in purchasing again.
For those companies in the first situation, they still did not know how the vendor would respond if there were a problem. So, those vendors were still a higher risk than the others.
Now, I am not counseling you to intentionally cause a problem. But, what I am saying is that a problem with a customer is not the end of the world, and, if you handle it correctly, can be a spring board to a more secure relationship in the future.