Customer service is a term we all hear on a fairly regular basis. It is also the one aspect of selling that you have complete control over. Providing exceptional customer service can’t just be something that is thought about, or talked about occasionally. It has to be a standard operating procedure; it shouldn’t be just a department. Providing exceptional customer service has to be a part of your company’s culture. The products that you are selling are probably similar to those of your competitors and, chances are, so are your prices. Good customer service can set you apart or set you behind your competition. Not only will good customer service help you make the sale today; it will help you make more sales in the future.
One of the most basic fundamentals of good customer service is telling the truth. The first thing you need to do as a salesperson is to establish trust and the best way to establish that is by telling the truth. This goes for all promises that are made to the customer, no matter how small it may seem to you. The customers are going to remember every promise that you make to them, so you better remember them as well and follow through. Repeat business is a key to sales and keeping your promises is one way to ensure that repeat business. In short, if you say it, do it!
Every customer is different with different wants and needs. Therefore it would be silly to use the same approach on every potential customer. A good salesperson will talk with each and every customer and find out what they want and then make every effort to satisfy those wants and needs. Satisfying a customer can be done in many ways. It may be simply taking an item back that did not meet their needs. It is not your fault that the product did not meet the customers’ needs but by taking it back you are showing an understanding of what the customer’s needs are. You also may be able to sell them another product that better fits their needs. A satisfied customer will not only return to you for further needs but they will also share their experience with two or three friends. Whereas, an unsatisfied customer will not come back and will share their experience with up to 10 people. There are many people in this world but we certainly cannot afford to be losing up to 10 potential customers every time we fail to satisfy a customer’s needs. We will not be in business for very long at that rate. Satisfy every customer!
We are all people who, whether we want to admit it or not, like to talk about ourselves. That’s the nature of being human. As a salesperson, though, it just will not work. Very few people who are coming into a store to buy something from you care that your car broke down on the way to work that day. The one thing they do care about is how you can provide them with what they want. Let the customer talk about themselves and what they want. You accomplish two very important goals this way:
1. You build a level of trust with the customer, making it easier to sell to them.
2. You find out what their needs are. Now you know what they want and you have their trust, that’s a great combination. Keep your personal problems out of business!
We all want to feel important and that something has been done just for us. That’s why it is always important to give the customer your full attention. No one is more important than that person standing in front of you at that moment. We talked about trust earlier in the article. One of the easiest ways to begin to gain that trust is to simply pay attention to what your customer is saying. It is also just as easy to lose that trust by taking phone calls, talking with others, looking disinterested and talking too much yourself. We also talked earlier about customers don’t always buy the same product for the same reason. Therefore it is important that you are listening and paying attention to your customer, so you can best meet their needs. As was mentioned above, we all like to feel special or important. One simple way to make our customers feel that way is by using their name.
Listening is an art that all of us need constant work on. It is especially true when we our listening to our customers speak. They are taking the time to tell us about themselves and what they need or want. We owe it to them to listen and never interrupt! A sale can quickly be lost if a salesperson continues to interrupt his/her customer. By listening to everything the customer says, they may answer most of the questions we have from them about what they want or need. No one knows better about what they want than the customer themselves, so listen and give them what they want—they want to be heard. We talk a lot about developing trust in a seller/buyer relationship and listening goes a long way towards developing that trust. If you listen well and hear what your customer is telling you, and then the sale will be easier. They will be more willing to listen to you if you take the time to listen to them.
We are a society of first impressions. Is that completely fair? Probably not, but that’s the time that we live in today. You cannot make a sale by being neatly groomed but you can certainly lose sales. You need to look competent and potential buyers are going to notice how you are groomed before you say one word to them. You may know your product better than any other salesperson on the floor but if you are dressed in old jeans and a T-shirt, you may never get the chance to demonstrate your knowledge. Especially if all of your co-workers are dressed in business attire and “look the part.” Don’t lose potential sales because of your attire. There are enough things in sales that you cannot control, so take advantage of those things you can control. Dress for success!
Some people still hold the stereotype that all salespeople are nothing but pushy con men. It is up to you to prove that those days are long gone. People today buy products based on value, features and benefits. Salespeople need to explain their product in clear, easy to understand terms. This also means stay away from jargon. Every industry has its own language or jargon that is used within the industry but the customer will probably not understand that jargon. So it is vital that you speak to your customer in a clear and concise manner. Your job is to understand what your customer wants and then provide it with clear and honest communication. No fast talking!
No one wants to buy a product from someone who is not excited about selling the product. You need to be able to show your enthusiasm for whatever you are selling. It’s important to remember that the customer who is buying your product might be buying it for the first time. Take a jewelry salesperson for example that probably sells many engagements rings a week. It may become routine or even boring for that salesperson after a while but the customer is, most likely, buying an engagement ring for the first time. The customer is very excited because this is the biggest moment of their life. What happens to that excitement if they come across a salesperson that is tired and does not match the customer’s excitement? They are many furniture stores and chances are the buyer will seek one of them out. However if you match their enthusiasm about there pending home purchase, then you have all ready began to establish a rapport with that customer. Along with showing your enthusiasm for your product and your customer, it is also vital that you SMILE, SMILE, SMILE! Smiling is contagious and can go a long way in making your customer more comfortable and the more comfortable they are with you, the more comfortable you become with them. A smile can also provide an icebreaker when approaching a potential customer. If you flash a smile at a potential customer and you receive a smile back, then the ice is broken. There are still a lot of misconceptions about salespeople and a simple smile can go along way in showing our customers that we are just another person.
By showing your enthusiasm and smiling you have all ready gone a long way in making it fun! Anything you do is going to be more productive if the parties involved are having fun. We have all ready discussed the idea that customers are usually excited about making their purchase and if you share their excitement, then a lot of fun can be had by both the seller and the buyer. If you go to any mall around the country, chances are the mall we have some type of entertainment to make the shopping experience more enjoyable. If you are willing to make it fun for both you and your customer, your customer will remember the good time they had buying from you and will come back to you when it is time to buy again.
The golden rule is something we all grew up hearing about. “Do unto others as you would want done unto you.” This rule can certainly be applied in the sales field as well. If you are honest, straightforward and professional, then you are more likely to get the same in return. Not every sale you make will wind up with a happy customer. It’s just not realistic to believe that. Products either break or don’t meet the needs of the person who bought them. You can’t control stuff like that but you can control how you treat people. The better you treat people, the more sales you will make.
The salesperson who want to stand out from the rest will always go the extra mile! Find a way to make everyone who buys from you feel special. It can be, and usually is, something simple. For example, a lot of mortgagee companies will provide a bottle of champagne to new homebuyers upon final closing. Not only does this make the buyers feel good about their purchase; it also might provide you with more customers. Sure those new homeowners are going to bring in their friends and show off their new house but they are also likely to point to that bottle of champagne and tell the story of where they got it. That has the potential to lead them to recommending your company to any of their friends looking to buy a house. Word of mouth is a powerful thing that can spread like wildfire, good and bad. Make it work for you by taking the time to go that extra mile.
In the end, quality customer service is common sense. Find out what the customer wants or needs and the find a way to deliver it to meet the customer’s desires. Treat all your customers like they are your only customer because at that moment, they are and deserve your undivided attention. If you choose to become an expert at customer service you will not only sell more than your competitors today, you will continue to outsell your competitors in the future. People, eventually, will no longer have a use for the product they bought from you. However they will remember the high standard of customer service that you provided and that will bring them back.
Author, trainer, consultant, and speaker Brad Huisken is President of IAS Training. Mr. Huisken authored the books “I’M a salesman! Not a PhD.” and “Munchies For Salespeople, Selling Tips That You Can Sink Your Teeth Into”, he developed the PMSA Relationship Selling Program, the PSMC Professional Sales Management Course, The Mystery Shoppers Kit, The Employee Handbook and Policy & Procedures Manual, The Weekly Sales Training Meeting series along with Aptitude Tests and Proficiency Exams for new hires, current sales staff and sales managers, along with the new Weekly Internet Sales Training Series. In addition, he publishes a free weekly newsletter called “Sales Insight” For a free subscription or more information contact IAS Training at (800) 248-7703, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.iastraining.com or fax (303) 936-9581.