Customer Service–Just Show You Care

Customer Service–Just Show You Care

I’m not a touchy, feely type of person.  I’m an expressive-driver, but when I’m frustrated I switch to driver mode. This means that my first tendency is to get things done quickly and efficiently, but I was recently reminded just how prevalent my expressive side can be when I am on the customer side of a business transaction.

When it comes to customer service, emotions are the deciding factor between loyalty and bolting to the competition. I had a recent experience with my internet provider that cemented this all too well.

A few weeks ago my modem crashed and quit working. I’m no tech whiz, so naturally I called tech support, but I left the call feeling frustrated and uncertain of when―or if―I would get internet service back. Above all, I felt like they really didn’t care. The conversation went something like this:

“Oh, we have a recall on your modem.  You’ll have to go to a dealer to exchange it for a new one.  But call first, as they may be out of stock.”

“Can they call me when a modem becomes available?”

“Afraid not.  They issue them on a first-come first-serve basis.”

I live in the country, but luckily, central to two city centres.  Surely, one of the four dealers between the two cities would have my modem.   Before going to the stores I call ahead, but no one is answering, so I leave messages.  Sometimes I get a live person, but sadly they tell me, “we don’t have any modems, but call back this afternoon as we might get some on today’s shipment.”

At this point I’m very frustrated and concerned because I have a home-based office and I can’t work without internet!

Three days later, I try my luck by walking into a dealer. Thankfully they had a modem! Just as I was about to get excited the dealer dropped the bomb, “I’m sorry, it’s not compatible with your monthly plan.  You’ll need to upgrade to the unlimited package if you want to leave with this modem.”

What?!  Now I felt ripped off.  It’s the company’s fault I’m without a modem, and now I have to start paying more to get back online?!

The purpose of this blog is not to rant about cable-internet providers, and fortunately the story now changes for the better.  This local dealer was awesome! He listened to me when I explained my plight, and he even called the company and advocated on my behalf to change my plan at no extra cost to me.  While he was waiting (yes, even the dealers have to wait), he started to look at my entire account. I’m hooked in for phone, internet and cable.  He asked lots of questions about how I use the services and what I need for my business. In the end, he was able to give me more for a lot less money!   He even suggested I cancel my cable (yes, reduce my services), since I was now getting unlimited internet.

This customer service rep was truly consultative.  He acknowledged my pain, asked questions, and offered solutions to fit my needs. I left with a huge smile on my face and felt genuinely appreciated as a customer.  After talking to the local dealer I feel more confident that I have the services I need to run my business.

This experience was a good reminder that customer service has a lot to do with the feelings of the customer. Empathy, understanding, and active listening are all key skills to practice when serving customers. If you’re serving customers, focus on feelings.

Preparing for 2020 – Creating a Succession Plan for Retiring Baby Boomers

Preparing for 2020 – Creating a Succession Plan for Retiring Baby Boomers

In this article series, our intent is to help Sales Leaders and their teams get ready for the Changing Sales & Buying Demographics by the year 2020.
In our first few articles we shared some major upcoming workforce changes that will have a serious impact on sales teams. Fifty percent of the workforce will be comprised of millennials by the year 2020. This presents a major challenge because many sales teams are composed largely of sales professionals aged 52 or over, and these baby boomers will want to retire in the next 3-10 years―meaning jobs will need to be filled. Many of these positions have been held by experienced sales professionals for many years. These boomers have extensive product and industry knowledge and great customer relationships. How can you ensure these opening positions are filled with skilled and qualified sales professionals? You should begin planning your succession plan now to better prepare your team―and most importantly your customers.
Here are 7 simple strategies to help you begin your succession plan:
1. Have a coaching conversation with your senior reps. You can no longer force retirement at 65 years of age according to the Canadian Human Rights Code. This means some boomers may choose not to retire until later. Even though you can’t force retirement you can ask coach-like questions to identify their goals toward retirement and to make succession planning smooth. Both parties should openly communicate their expectations moving forward, to ensure the continued success of the company.
2. Offer flexible working schedules to accommodate the boomers who may want to phase out of their position gradually. Many boomers reaching retirement age may want to continue to work, but only on a part time basis. By offering a flexible work schedule you can make this transition smoother for all involved parties.
3. Create a farm team of upcoming sales professionals to step into the roles as boomers leave them. Having a trained and prepared sales professional ready to step into the role will avoid the awkward and clunky transition from a seasoned sales professional to a new hire or transitioning worker.
4. Hire millennials into entry-level sales and marketing positions and provide them with a career pathway. By hiring millennials into your business you can help ensure the future success of your company, while ensuring the success of the next generation.
5. Mentorship is a great way to help transition sales professionals into senior roles―whether it be new hires or existing workers. Mentoring creates a support system for both incoming employees and for outgoing boomers, and it ensures company knowledge, and existing customer relationships are passed along to the incoming employee.
6. Special projects/assignments are a good way to help keep boomers involved in a transition role. These special projects could include customer relationship management, product training programs, customer service roles, marketing or inside sales.
7. Be sure the candidate taking over has the correct temperament for the position. If you are promoting from within, be sure that the position change is welcomed by them, and that their temperament is suited for the job in need of filling. Often, the top-salespeople are promoted to managerial positions but they are not suited for office work and find it stifling.
It is important that soon-to-retire boomers retain a sense of importance within the company, and these strategies can help accomplish this, while training another sales professional to occupy the soon-to-be-vacant position.
During the next few months, stay tuned for a series of articles on how YOU can get your team ready for the NEW DEFINED Sales Team by 2020 with strategies and ideas to get ready for 2020:

More statistics on Boomer succession plans can be found here.

 

Join us on March 31 at Burlington Golf & Country Club to learn more about the 2020 initiative. Find more information here.

Achieve 10% More – Work 10% Less!

Achieve 10% More – Work 10% Less!

During the month of January, we had the opportunity to kick off a few sales conferences for our clients. Two of the clients, had record growth and were celebrating their sales successes.

The CEO (one from the Americas kicked off their sales conference with a congratulatory message, “Canada―you had the highest sales growth of all our global countries―way to go! Congratulations.”

In the very next breath he continued, “Canada―I need you to pick up the pace! In order to achieve our ambitious 3-year sales goal I’ll need your help.”

You could feel the exhaustion and excitement ripple through the air. Just like many other sales people―and even myself―many sales professionals gave it their absolute all the past year, and they were very proud but they were exhausted.

Now they were being told they had to do it all again, and then some. Most companies are looking for double digit growth in the next five years to double their overall sales. This seems shocking and many of you may be wondering how you’ll ever achieve such an ambitious goal without sacrificing your sanity.  The

New Year is like resetting to zero, but expecting an even higher level result. You may have just jumped higher than ever before, but now you have to go even higher.

It is possible! Here’s my challenge to you: Achieve 10% more, but work 10% less.

I know, it sounds unrealistic but I have some tools to help you out. Jill Konrath’s new book, Sell More, Work Less, is a great guide to help get you started. Jill shares her own personal stories on how she challenged herself to identify what her biggest distractions, procrastinations, and goals were. Chapter by chapter she identifies these elements and in doing so helps prioritize her time more effectively. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to increase their productivity all while working less.

Here are 3 strategies and personal examples to help you Work Smarter, Play Harder, and Celebrate more in 2017.

  1. Work Smarter
  • Make use of time blocking. I am so much more productive when I time block my day. I turn off my emails, texts, social media and I’m amazed at how quickly I can get a project done or get 10 prospecting calls in when I don’t let anything distract me. I also utilize the concept of ROTI (Return on Time Invested). In this 1st quarter, I’m focusing on the top 10 clients who will contribute to my sales goal. This helps me stay organized and prioritize my time accordingly. When I’m meeting with clients I apply the 8-step consultative process to have meaningful business conversations in order to learn all I can about their business. This helps keep our conversations focused, mutually beneficial and ensures we’re both on the same page, working towards both our business goals.
  1. Play Harder
  • It’s important for us to have something to help turn off work and do something for ourselves. I’ve signed up for the Team BeachBody On Demand videos―30 minute workout videos that make me work hard, but in a time that’s manageable. They’re tough but I feel so good afterwards. I’m committed to having a stronger and fitter body when turning 50 this year.  Even if your idea of playing isn’t working out, you can still up the ante in whatever you do enjoy. Make a commitment and stick with it!
  1. Celebrate More
  • Our team has already mapped out our holiday/vacation schedule for 2017 to enjoy and celebrate with long weekends and great trips. Another colleague shared that her office will close every long weekend on Friday at 1pm to celebrate more. Remembering to celebrate is a great way to keep motivated. What will you do to celebrate more for achieving your quarterly goals throughout the year?

Although the notion of working smarter, playing harder and celebrating more may seem idealistic it’s all about perspective. Staying positive, managing time, and being strategic are key to achieving this trifecta in 2017.  What will you do to achieve 10% more and work 10% less???

 

Your Buyers and Sales Team Are Changing – Will you be ready for 2020?

Your Buyers and Sales Team Are Changing – Will you be ready for 2020?

By the year 2020 almost half of the Canadian workforce will be comprised of millennials – what does this mean for you and your organization?


Because of this workforce shift, the business landscape will change dramatically and the way customers and companies buy and sell is bound to evolve. Creating the optimal sales team and culture that will transition seamlessly into 2020 is quickly becoming a priority for industry leaders and companies.  The challenge that most companies are facing is the new complex social and organizational demographic differences on their sales teams.

Ask yourself: Of your sales team, what percentage are Baby Boomers or over the age of 50? What percentage of your sales team are under the age of 35, Millennials?

The response we typically hear is that currently, around 50% of sales teams are Baby Boomers and less than 10% are Millennials. By 2020, 50% of the workforce will be Millennials. This means that Baby Boomers will be selling to a market half-comprised of Millennials. Are you prepared for the impact this will have on your sales team and more importantly, your customers?

Understanding the current workforce – according to Statistics Canada

  • Currently, Baby Boomers make up 40% of today’s workplace demographics.  They hold many senior positions and have had a strong influence over the cultural characteristics of the workplace.  This generation places high value on long work hours, relationships and face-to-face meetings.
  • Generation X holds 25% of the workplace demographics.  This generation is not a fan of status or titles and seeks work-life balance in an informative, fun work environment.
  • Generation Y or Millennials represent 30% of the workforce with pre-set expectations of what they want in their jobs.  Millennials are innovative, tech-savvy, self-sufficient, entrepreneurial collaborators who need a higher purpose in life.  

Love them or hate them Millennials are here to stay, and in order to take action, you should ask:

  • How will this shift in demographics impact your sales teams?
  • How will this affect your customers preferred buying preferences?
  • How will you create a succession plan with your retiring Baby Boomers who have a wealth of company and product knowledge, long term relationships with customers, and hard-working ethics?
  • Finally, how will you attract and engage Millennials to your sales team? The traditional sales team will no longer be a relevant model!

Here are 5 key action plan strategies that will help you and your team evolve into 2020:

  1. Create awareness and action within your company – COACH up, down and around to get everyone to help you define the new sales team – your CEO, HR and other key departments.
  2. Create a Succession Plan for Retiring Baby Boomers
  3. Attract, Hire & On-Board Millennials into Sales Positions
  4. Adapt to sell to Millennial Buyers
  5. Build the case – Why Millennials would be perfect for the New Defined Sales Team

During the next few months, stay tuned for a series of articles on how YOU can get your team ready for the NEW DEFINED Sales Team by 2020.

 

Why Celebration is More Important than Ever―Especially on Blue Monday

Why Celebration is More Important than Ever―Especially on Blue Monday

The third Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year―it’s called Blue Monday. It’s dark, cold, and the New Year’s high has faded away. But on a gloomy day like this it’s important to remember all the great things we have in our life, and how it will eventually get warmer.  I was recently reminded just how important it is to celebrate, and how easily these celebration plans can burst.

I’ve had an incredible past year both personally and professionally. At Teneo we achieved not only our sales goal, but also our stretch sales goal! This is a huge accomplishment for our team, and we celebrated by spending our final day before Christmas holidays at our favourite spa and taking a trip to Quebec City. It was exactly what we needed after a full year of hard work. With great food, good company, and lots of laughter, our batteries were recharged and ready for a new year.

The achievement of this goal was also good news for my family. Our youngest daughter, Alexa, turned 18 this year, which means both my daughters are now legally adults. Lucky for me, they occasionally still like to hang out with their parents, which is why I promised a family trip if I reached my sales goal for the year. After this promise Alexa became my own personal sales cheerleader. Anytime she was home from university she’d come into my office and check the white board to see how close we were to reaching our lofty sales goal. When we surpassed our first goal and then exceeded even our stretch goal she was ecstatic. As a reward to myself and to my family we were set to go on a trip to Panama right after the Christmas holidays, but I was quickly reminded how quickly celebration plans can burst―literally. Unfortunately the day we were to leave for Panama I had to take Alexa to the hospital, as she was complaining of severe stomach pains. Not wanting to let down the rest of the family―and being an eternal optimist―I sent my husband ahead with the rest of the family on our scheduled flight and told them we’d catch a later flight. Unfortunately, we learned Alexa had appendicitis and that it had actually burst. She was rushed into surgery to remove it, but because it had already ruptured infection spread throughout her body and caused more problems. Needless to say we were not going to Panama, and the only place I would be visiting the next few weeks would be the hospital.

I’ve since spent the last 17 days and 100 hours in the hospital! This certainly wasn’t how I planned to spend my holidays, but it was a good reminder of what is important. It was also a firm reminder that life is full of setbacks―but success is determined by how you handle them.

Alexa handled them like a champ. She’s stayed positive through most of this horrible ordeal―even when I was having trouble staying optimistic. She was discharged from the hospital this past Saturday and we are so happy to have her home and on the mend, but after this I need a holiday. So we have decided to have a “Re-Do Holiday” in Florida over the girl’s reading week, and I cannot wait to celebrate.

Have you celebrated your 2016 goals yet? More importantly, how will you ensure you achieve your 2017 goals and stretch goals with plans to celebrate one year from now?!

Its Q2 – do you have enough in your Pipeline to Achieve 2016 Sales Goal?

Its Q2 – do you have enough in your Pipeline to Achieve 2016 Sales Goal?

As we moctopus manove into Q2 – its’ critically important to ensure we have added enough opportunities in the Sales Pipeline in Q2 to ensure you will hit your 2016 Sales Goal.  With longer sales cycles and more people involved in the decision making process – the spring/Q2 is an ideal time to be prospecting.

Here are 5 Great Prospecting Strategies to get you started with your Spring Prospecting Blitz

When prospecting you need to realize that you are competing with at least 50 other salespeople to get a meeting with a buyer who will see 1-4 new salespeople on average per year. Sales people need to become creative and productive when prospecting, instead of relying on conventional methods.  Here are some key fundamentals to prospecting that every sales rock star does.

  1. Create your Target list of prospects

Ideally, you want to be prospecting for customers who are already likely to buy. Possible sources for prospecting lists:

Referrals. People whom your existing customers have contacted and suggested that they get in touch with you.

Networks. People whom you’ve connected with personally at industry events or tradeshow, leads during the past year.

Website Visitors. People who’ve shown an interest in your offerings by accessing your website and leaving contact data.

Purchased Lists. People who have bought your offerings inside industries into which you typically sell.

Questions to consider when creating a list of prospects:

  • Why is that an ideal lead?
  • How do we help them?
  • What do we help them with?
  • Why would they need our help?
  • Would they maybe want our help right now?
  • Would our services or products actually be something that is timely to their business goals and needs?

Your prospects can be in different sections of your Prospecting Funnel – categorize them as suspect, prospects and hot ones to help you prioritize your prospects.  Remember, even existing customers can go back into your prospecting funnel to get more business from them this year.

  1. Create your UNIQUE Competitive Value Message for each client

In most cases, your competitive value message will be  built around open-ended questions that you ask during the conversation.

A few of the key criteria in obtaining your leads are: identifying the decision makers, current supplier situation, their financial situation, decision timeframe, and price as a buying criterion.

Questions to ask leads:

  • How would the decision process work with an offering like this? What would be your role in the process, and the roles of others on the decision team?
  • “What are the most important issues for you?”
  • “How many (products/services) do you sell in an average week/month?”
  • “Who is your primary customer?”
  • “Where do you see your greatest challenge?”
  • “I notice you currently use XYZ Company. How long have they been your supplier?”
  • “What do you like most about XYZ Company?”
  • Do you have a portion of your budget already allocated to this?
  1. Set reasonable prospecting goals

Set a target for how many prospects you will need in your pipeline in order to generate the number of sales that you need.  When setting prospecting goals, focus on three core areas: the number of contacts you should make each day and week, the number of leads you should develop and the number of personal appointments you should set.

Some examples of SMART goals for prospecting are:

  • Send 10 packages to prospects per week for the next 4 weeks
  • Set 1 face to face appointment with a new prospect each week.
  • Make 2 follow-up presentations this month.
  • Schedule time to make 5 new calls every day between the times of 8am – 9am
  1. Get into a positive mental state

Find a place where you won’t be interrupted or distracted. Take a few minutes to focus yourself and your thoughts:

  • Be positive. Believe you will succeed. If you fail try again.
  • Be optimistic. Look for the best in people and expect good things to happen.
  • Visualize success. Imagine ALL the emotions you’ll feel when you achieve your goal.
  1. Practice Self-Talk

Enhance your performance by structuring your self-talk in a way that will help you enter the situation feeling more positive.  It’s important to be in a confident, positive and have a resourceful state of mind. The interactions you have with your clients and prospects are too valuable to take lightly. You want to be prepared to create value and you want to be in the best state possible to do so.

  1. Make the calls

Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days of the week to make sales calls.

The absolute best times to call leads are between the hours of 8-9am and 4-6pm, with the lunchtime period of 1-2pm being the absolute worst. An early-morning call was proven to be 164% more likely to qualify a lead than one made between 1 and 2 p.m. The best day and time to send sales emails are Thursdays 8-9am. And the worst day and time to send emails are Tuesday and Wednesday between 8-10am.  Make sure you know your audience, where your contacts are and organize your hot list by time zone or a time to best reach your decision makers.  I find the time best to make my calls to VPs of Sales is 7:30am – 8:55am –as they usually get in the office early, I avoid gatekeepers, and its before they get caught up in meetings for the day.

  1. Multiple Touches – Make the Calls and be Disciplined – Don’t give up too soon!

48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect

25% of sales people make a 2nd contact and stop

12% of sales people only make 3 contracts and stop

Only 10% of sales people make more than 3 contacts

2% of sales are made on the 1st contact

3% of sales are made on the 2nd contact

5% of sales are made on the 3rd contact

10% of sales are made on the 4th contact

80% of sales are made on the 5th to 12th contact

 

Share your prospecting best practices with us!