Past a great pointer to the future

29/08/2013 - 07:08


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Learning from the lessons of the past can help you form ongoing relationships with your customers, leading to more sales.

Learning from the lessons of the past can help you form ongoing relationships with your customers, leading to more sales.

SUMMER’S nearly over here in the US and it’s almost time for the kids to head back to school.

That got me thinking about some of the lessons I learned at school, and those that still help me today.

• Grammar from grades 9 and 10. It’s the basis of my writing and communication. In today’s world, misuse of the words they’re, their, their, your, and you’re create lasting (bad) first impressions.

• At college, my modern European history professor said: “It’s not the date of what happened that matters. It’s what happened in response to the date (events, outcomes) that creates history.”

• Later in life I came to the realisation that algebra was not about maths but about learning how to solve problems logically. I wish my algebra teacher could have put it that way when I started.

When it comes to sales, I also learned some early lessons that have stayed with me throughout my career.

• Questions control conversations. The person who’s asking is in control.

• Relax, find common ground and be friendly with the prospect before you start the sales conversation.

• Find out why they want to buy before you start to sell.

Of course I have added to this over the years.

Here are 11.5 lessons you can use to start this school year off with a bang – and a bunch of sales.

1. Study your (or your company’s) last 100 sales. The history of where your last 100 sales came from will predict and help you complete your next 100 sales.

2. Videotape the buying motives of your top 10 customers. Call your top 10 customers and meet with them for a short, casual conversation about why they buy from you.

3. Meet one customer a day for morning coffee. Just talk personally. In a year this will give you the personal insight of 250 customers.

4. Study service issues. Find out what issues customers have. Study how (and how fast) they were resolved.

5. Study backorders. Why did the back order occur? How was it dealt with? How was it resolved?

6. Talk to users, not just buyers. Go to your customers and talk to the people who use your product or service. Find out what they love and what’s missing. Video the interviews.

Secret: Get purchasing people to be at the meeting with the people who use your product, so they can understand the difference between price, productivity, value, and profit.

7. Talk to your loyal customers who don’t buy on price. Find out the true non-price buying motive(s) for dealing with you.

8. Get involved on a deeper, hands-on level. Make a few deliveries yourself. Take a few service calls yourself. Find out what’s really happening with and to your customers.

9. Get short meetings with executives. Talk about the issues they value the most. Maybe ask a question or two about their vision or leadership philosophy, and leave. Do not ask for business. Just make an impression.

10. Start your own value messaging in social media. Post your ideas and thoughts on all social media outlets. Then email the links to all your customers and prospects so they can follow you.

11. Post customer testimonials on YouTube. Then email and tweet the links to all your customers and prospects.

11.5 Create a customer ‘reasons’ book. List all the reasons why they buy, say no, stay loyal, or leave you. As you write, answers and actions will become evident.

Key point: The lessons you have learned from your history of doing business with customers are very valuable, but not as valuable as your customers’ history of doing business with you. Your customers’ input from their perspective can teach you how to achieve and maintain loyalty.

Key to implementation: Reconstruct your sales presentation around customer’s responses and perceived values.

Winning new business: The best way to find new business is to talk to old business, learn the lessons, and refine your practices and presentation to be in harmony with their needs and expectations.



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