Secrets of ... by ... Given Dip in Bus Admin, Cert in Mgt, ... does not have a very nice image. Salesmen ringing up out of the blue to sell their latest produc
Secrets of Promotion by Christopher Given Dip in Bus Admin, Cert in Mgt, ACMI
Sales does not have a very nice image. Salesmen ringing up out of the blue to sell their latest product, untrained or unenthusiastic sales staff knocking at your door, are some of the images that spring to mind.
But service doesn't need to be like that in order to make the sale.
What is Customer Service?
"Customer Service is the supply of that which satisfies the consumer need and want"
This is about providing a physical product plus all the individual tasks that make up the entire process. Please do not confuse service with sales, as they are totally different.
"Sales is the use of language and presentation in order to persuade customers to buy"
Elements of customer service
Availability of item
After sales service
Handling of orders
Reliability or quality
Most organisations employ people to handle customer calls, emails and to wait on customer's needs The functions are to:
§be there when customers contact the company
§provide timely and accurate service
§support the sales organisation
All of this is designed for one purpose - Customer Retention
Who is the customer?
We usually think of customers as people outside of our company. It could be agreed that a customer is a person who purchases. Another definition could be someone with whom we have dealings.
Customers fall into external and internal types:
These are the lifeblood of every organisation. We deal with them every day, either face to face or via the telephone. You may have heard sayings like ‘the customer is king' or ‘customers are our no 1 priority'. Well, it's true, because without them there would be no sales, no company and no job.
These people work inside your company. Although they are not traditional customers, they rely on us to provide services and help within the organisation in order to get their work done. It is vital that they are treated well, not only because we have to work together, but if we upset one another the next time we require each others services, either party could be reluctant to carry out their duties, which could effect the business as a whole. Not professional behaviour at all. And if work is held up because of conflict, the eventual loser is always the customer.
Worth and Price
Businesses need to make a profit in order to survive. Assuming that products are of excellent quality, have been tested and market research has been done, clearly establishing a need and want, then all we need to do is to sell. However, there is one obstacle - the customer.
Every person will consider what the product is worth to them before purchasing. The price has to be just right before they will buy. One definition of price could be:
The price is the sum, consideration or sacrifice given in exchange for goods and services.
An organisation will price a product and that price would suggest it's worth to the company. But, imagine the customer likes the product, but not the price - the customer now thinks the product isn't worth purchasing at that price. In other words, Something is only worth what someone is prepared to pay for it. The customer may have been put off the purchase because the price was too high. This means a balance needs to be made between the price and the benefits/features of the product.
The company can either lower the price and produce more sales that way, or it can make the product more attractive by e.g. adding more functionality or re-designing to make it unique in some way, this way the product can maintain it's current price. Either way, the customer will be satisfied.
Personal selling is about communicating with people, and knowing something about ways in which they can react in different situations will help you to approach them, and find out whether their a serious purchaser, require more information or just browsing. Let's assume for a moment that we know how to sell effectively. Businesses have external visitors that contact them by different means. They will:
·use the telephone to enquire about products ·visit the company website
We will tackle these in order.
1. Handling inbound calls
Every thing an organisation does will be noticed by the customer at some point. From producing a web site to answering the telephone, everything must be executed to a high standard in order to generate the most favourable impression. When customers enter the business premises, they will gain an impression of how the organisation operates, the value it offers and this includes the quality or level of service. And one of the ways customer service will be noticed, is via the use of the telephone.
A lot of time, effort and energy will be spent on encouraging prospective customers to contact your organisation. When they do call, everything about their contact must go well. This call represents a range of opportunities, from an immediate order to securing follow up business for the future.
We will now look at how to make this kind of call sales focused.
Your voice is an important asset. But it's not enough just to be well spoken and polite; every call must be treated as if there is a genuine purchaser at the end of the phone line. You need to go about it in a way that makes what is being offered truly beneficial.
Every call needs planning.
Advantages of planning
§it overcomes nervousness §it assists ability to think/react more quickly §it helps prevent being sidetracked §the call is more customer focused
This will help you deal with most situations that occur without floundering. Long pauses and extended time while thinking makes you seem unprepared and unprofessional. Planning and practice is the key. Do not adopt a scripted approach (customers will spot this at once and do not like), you should respond, yet control the direction of the call towards a specific objective. Please remember to be genuine when dealing with people, customer service and sales is obvious - you cannot avoid or disguise a sale, because sooner or later the customer will want to know about the nature of your call. If the customer senses that you are just there to sell them something, they may not feel you have their best interests at heart and will go elsewhere because of it.
§Have product literature and customer details at hand §Make sure you're aware of objectives §Know your product/service inside out §Be ready to handle objections §Listen to what the customer wants
Now, if you have the customer's attention and they are willing to talk at some length, the sale is actually almost complete. The intention is now to conduct the call in the way you want (make it persuasive), yet make it a call the customer enjoys too (it meets their expectations). Don't think you will make a sale every time. It is unrealistic plus you will set yourself up for failure, the art is to provoke interest, not to badger.
When answering the first call, you must make a link to what is being said there, avoid repetition of information like the customer's organisation name, if it has just been mentioned. Have a pad and pen handy for note taking - A MUST
The purpose of the first reply
§To welcome the customer and put them at ease §To make it clear you are there to assist them and not just sell them something §Give the feeling of effectiveness - makes you look effective
Include a greeting - ‘Good Morning' - clearly state your company name, personal name and end with ‘How can I help you' Listen to what the enquiry is about and then move on promptly to what you can offer.
Importance of Communication
Communication is a complex area for discussion, because we are using the very function to study itself. Communication is the transfer of an idea, in my mind, to yours, so hopefully, it will be understood. Good communication occurs when ideas are transferred and understood. Bad communication has many causes, but it involves the non-arrival of a message or the arrival of an inaccurate message.
Care should therefore be taken to ensure that the language used is within the understanding of the receiver. One of the most common problems of communication is not taking responsibility to understand the message. If I throw a ball to you, you will need to catch it in order for us to win the game. So, who's responsibility is it for us to win that game? The answer is both ours. Let's assume I throw the ball, and you drop it, is it my fault if you fail to catch it? You, as the catcher may think so, especially if you fumble the ball. I may have thrown it too fast or the direction may be slightly more to the right than left. Then I may feel I've made the best attempt to throw, so that you may catch it, so I will blame you if it is missed. This is the usual way people see things, people always blame each other for silly things that could be put right or avoided altogether. All it takes is a little thinking about what is being said and how you say it.
Once we know how to communicate, we need to find out a customer's needs and wants, if cutomer service and sales can be attempted at all.
This article forms part of my e-book, and is available by contacting me.
Christopher Given is a Marketing and Promotion Expert. He's worked for Major UK organisations such as Taylor Nelson Sofres Marketing, Olympus Sport International in total 10+ companies in all. This article can be used by anyone providing the link to website isn't removed.