Attitude second. Customer first.
Last week I attended a number of business connection meetings and was surprised by many well respected Sales Coaches promoting the adage, ” Attitude defines altitude “.
Whilst having the right attitude is important to execute plans, I don’t think it’s the number one priority for anyone in sales or marketing, or business in general. The #1 for any and every business is the customer.
Having spent years working in retail for fashion brands, I learnt early on that if you looked after your customer, then the customer looks after you and your business. Sales should be a by-product of providing quality and genuine service, not the main focus.
During my years at SAKS in Auckland, I was taught to never come between a good sale. Many a times salespeople get over enthusiastic and over-sell the product. They really keep talking and never known when to shut up. That was then be perceived by the potential customer as a full-on effort to sell, sell and sell.
I’m not a big fan of companies that drive sales by increasing competition between the staff, so that they fight for the sale. It’s not the best strategy as it costs the business more when the top salespersons are fighting for every dollar between themselves, rather than focus on looking after the customer.
Here’s ten tips I wanted to share with anyone, looking to upgrade their sales team to be world-class. Genuinely, I try my best to do this for my own business where I aim to never sell, but provide a genuine personalised service with the customer first in my mind at all times.
1. Build an ecosystem around the customer
Look at every point of contact you have with the customer and then build an eco system that is designed to care, serve and reduce effort for the customer. Every sales and marketing communication should be built around this, and the systems for operations as well. The more gaps you close in the service channel, the better your product – service will perform and be valued by your customers.
2. Convert NO to YES through clear and concise communication
Top salespeople try to convert as many NOs inside the customer’s head into YES by providing clear answers that explain not only the product’s features and benefits but also how the customer will be serviced before, during and after purchase.
3. Be honest.
Lies will only get you as far as a single sale and a lifetime of pain. Honesty pays through repeat business and referrals as credibility is hard to earn. It’s better to be straight up about exactly what you can do for someone than make up stories of what’s possible and not deliver.
If for some reason the customer is not satisfied, then resolve that in the quickest and earlier manner by asking the customer to let you know how would they like to resolve that, and if possible to do that or get as close to that within the limitation of the rules in place.
4. Know you can’t please everyone, and not even try
Some people are impossible to please, and it’s important to qualify your customers as soon as you can so you know what you can and can’t do for them. Be realistic and align their expectations to your business.
It’s best to let go of business from time of time than try to chase every dollar. Learn to trade in time as that’s the most valuable currency you own.
5. Satisfy needs, not wants
Whilst its important to make sure the customer is happy, its even more important to aim on satisfying the needs of the customer than cater to wants that can be best described as pie-in-the-sky.
If you’re in the business of satisfying wants, then you need a lot of resources and capital to deliver on your promises, which is hard to do in a start up or a SME.
6. Listen, Ask, Listen, Follow Up
Be prepared before you meet a customer and listen carefully to what’s their pain point and what’s bothering them. Once you’ve heard and understood, ask your customer to clarify that what you’ve understood to be their problem, is their genuine concern. Then be clear about providing a solution, and if you don’t have one at that point, never say NO but say let me come back to you with a better response in a stated time. And follow up on that as promised.
7. Don’t be shy to ask for help and referrals
Lead generation is a big part of a successful business, and every decent salesperson knows that building the pipeline is a critical task to success. So please don’t be shy in asking your happy customers for help from time to time and even referrals.
For me this is the most important part of a sales meeting that many salespeople are too shy or afraid to ask. People love dealing with people, and will go out of their way to help a genuine and honest salesperson or company succeed in the market.
8. You’re not in the business of burn and churn – learn to cultivate
The burn and churn method applied by many cowboys in the market is the worst place to be. I have dealt with so many people who are always trying to go for the quick buck than be in it for the long run.
If you want to be successful and rich, then learn to cultivate your customers through active listening and proactive service.
9. Reward yourself
Look after your staff and yourself by rewarding good performance, even with a simple hand written thank you, to shouting a coffee on a busy day to even letting your team take an early day off. It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture but just enough to let others know that you care, and similarly take a short break from time to time to revitalise your senses.
10. Enjoy what you do with a passion
Be passionate about the path you choose and the job you have. Humility mixed with a grateful approach and a sense of humour will take you much further in your career than a “deserve and want” mindset. Have a smile on your face, and enthusiasm in your voice, not a grumble mumble.
Enjoy every moment and see everything as a lesson. Trust me when you look back on those tough days, it should be filled with good memories on how you tried your best than lost opportunities with the wrong mindset.
Wish you the best in your sales journey, and happy selling.