In response to this question, many will say the organization’s Board of Directors holds the vision. After all, they plot the course for where the company is headed. Others adamantly believe it is held by the senior executive team. They determine the day to day operations. Some may think it’s their branch manager, because she has the branch goals. All of these answers are right. And any of these answers are wrong.
If any of these mentioned hold the vision, it is often framed and hanging in the lobby or the employee break room. The idea is if you read it, you will get it. How many times do you pass the same billboard every day on the highway and have no idea what it advertises? How often do you pull into your driveway and wonder, what colors were the last three traffic lights? We often see without reading. And we often pass by without taking hold of the message.
It’s the same way when you want to list all of the benefits you offer to a new customer. After awhile, he stops listening. Or when you are on-boarding a new employee. Can she really understand all the terminology on day one? We think exposure equals hold.
- Explain the affect when a process isn’t followed.
- Describe the how and when of a product that will put the customer in a better situation,
- Point out the benefits of taking the medication exactly as prescribed to your patient.
You aren’t just listing the what, how and when. You are telling a story. What happens when? How does it work? Where is the benefit? Tell the story! People remember and respond to the story. You make it personal. You make it relevant. They get the message. And you get the vision!
“People get the vision because you share it, not because they read the framed poster hanging in the lobby.” ~ Becky McCrary, CSP
We spend almost every waking moment on the phone. We’re on the phone in the car and in the grocery store, sitting in meetings and standing in line, at ball games and concerts. We cannot tolerate being out of the loop or spending time quietly with ourselves. Yet the cry continues from small business owners, sales associates, and customer service representatives that they hate to make calls.
Here are a few of their reasons and a suggestion or two of how to overcome the fear.
#1 the fear of being rejected. With so many sales gurus out there, we really believe that the buyer has to say NO six times before he will buy. Their great plan is for us to make so many calls that we have to average a couple of Yes’s a day. Can your ego take that? Mine, neither.
I prefer to put my name, my face, my expertise in front of the decision maker several times, without asking for the business. Each time her peers mention my name, each time she hears about my programs, each time I meet her at a chamber event, the door is opened slightly. I live by networking and word-of-mouth advertising. Buyers want to know that you can deliver…every time. Make your calls count.
#2 the fear of being interrupted. Nothing has impacted how we treat sales calls more than the telemarketing industry. The number one complaint I hear is that they want to read the entire script, with appropriate pauses for emphasis, without taking a breath. Interrupting them will only make them start over.
So don’t read to your prospects! You don’t get interrupted in a conversation. Get the buyer involved in the dialogue early. And don’t think those cleverly crafted questions that can only be answered YES count. Identify the real decision maker, the need, the timing, and the budget by sharing information. Give your prospect permission to add to the conversation. When you aren’t doing all the talking, you may find time to listen. Remember, though, listening is more than waiting for your turn to talk.
#3 the fear of seeming unorganized. Do you dial a number without having the file open on your computer or on your desk? Have you taken a moment to familiarize yourself with the account, the last purchase, or the last requested action? If there was a previous misunderstanding or error, have you verified the outcome and the customer’s satisfaction?
The person who makes the call controls the call. Don’t ask prospects to call you back. They may catch you at an inopportune time when your mind is on something else. You may not be able to fight back the urge to put them on hold while you locate the information you were calling about earlier. Or worse, you could confuse them with another buyer. Organize your thoughts and information before the contact is made.
#4 the fear of not knowing the answer. No one has to know everything about everything. Have you ever watched a computer genius? There is more button pushing and screen hopping and cable repositioning than one can bear to watch. Afterwards, I don’t have any idea what he did and I’m not sure that he does, either. But now it works.
You have permission to learn something new every day. How you stall for time is what separates the professionals from the fearfuls. “That’s a good question. Do you have a minute to hold while I verify that for you?” “I may need to research that. Are you able to hold or may I call you back?” “No one has ever asked me that before. Would you give me the opportunity to look into this on your behalf?” Prospects, customers, patients, and clients would much rather give you time to check on their questions than have you simply hazard a guess. Know It All – not at all.
#5 the fear of taking it personally. Do you think problems go away if you ignore them? Recently, I arrived to view the proofs of our family photographs. Barely through the door, the clerk greeted me with, “They’re not in, yet.” What do you mean they are not in? This is my appointed time. “Well, they were held up in Nashville yesterday and they’re not in, yet. It isn’t my fault.” When did you know the pictures were going to be late? “Yesterday, but I was still hoping they’d be here. Yours aren’t the only ones. Is there a number I can call when they get in?” Wouldn’t yesterday have been the appropriate time to make that call?
No one wants to be the bearer of bad news. However, letting the customer know what is happening and what you’re doing about it before it becomes an inconvenience earns you huge payback in loyalty. If you’ve heard my Radio Shack story, you remember that Mr. Shelby didn’t explain their return policy when I asked about it at the time of my purchase, because “You can’t tell everyone all the bad stuff. They won’t want to buy from you.” Take customer satisfaction personally and build customer loyalty in the process.
Prepare yourself. Sit up straight. Put a big smile on your face. Have your material in front of you. Take a moment. Take a breath. And make the call!
I’m eager to hear of your results.
With the phone ringing and the line increasing, your first thought may be to process the transactions as quickly as possible. Be polite, but focused on the job. That must be what the customer wants, right? Actually, that can be very wrong.
Accuracy and efficiency are expected. Answering questions and completing transactions are the minimum. That doesn’t make you stand out from the competition. It doesn’t make the customer feel special. They want to be noticed, recognized and appreciated. They want your undivided attention.
Here are five steps to help you build a relationship that will pay huge dividends.
Greet me. Yes, a personal greeting is required, not just raised eyebrows and a nod. “May I help me?” “Good morning! How can I help you this morning?” Eye contact is required. It does not, however, constitute a greeting in and of itself. Turn your entire body toward the customer. It’s a great first impression every time!
Value me. Whether I’m inquiring about a $60,000 automobile or my monthly prescriptions, how do I know that you think I’m important? Yes, you have to learn my name and how to pronounce it. While waiting, I observed how you interacted with others. You smiled. You laughed. You asked about their day. Make me feel important. Be excited that I came in!
Ask me. I don’t always know what I want (or need). You are a wealth of information.Don’t stop with a greeting. Carefully probe to determine my wants and needs. Remember the five W’s and an H. Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? When you take the time to explain how your products and services benefit me, I make better choices. When I feel good about my decisions, I become a walking billboard for your company.
Listen to me. Stop. You cannot listen while counting money. You cannot listen while reading history notes. You cannot listen while checking documents. Be still and focus on my words, my facial expressions, the tone of my voice and my body language. I’m trying to tell you how to help me. Don’t get stuck on one point, interrupt or get defensive. Be in the moment!
Invite me back. Instead of looking behind me at the next customer, look me in the eye and thank me for my business. I can see you are busy. I might walk out thinking I was an interruption to your day, unless you do something. A sincere thank you will let me know my questions and my business are welcome any time.
Sales or service, front line or leadership, focus your attention on the person in front of you. You will nurture a relationship that can bring you business and referrals for a lifetime.
In banking, healthcare and business, we measure everything. We establish goals and benchmarks. We know exactly where we are in the process. We work together as a team to help each other succeed. We know professionalism when we see it. And yet we sometimes stumble over the details of what it takes to achieve it. For a quick reference, just follow the ABC’s.
Top performers ASK. Be inquisitive. The more questions you verbalize, the more knowledgeable you will become. Understanding the how and the why makes you an asset to your customer, your team and your company. If a call has to be escalated for resolution, take the time to check back later in the day. Find out what happened and the reasoning process or policy used to make that determination. So, what do you want to know?
Top performers BEHAVE in a manner conducive to influencing others. Your dress, body language, tone of voice, clutter-free workstation, responses, even the expression on your face allows others to judge your professionalism. Make them feel welcome. You can’t treat everyone the same, because they are not the same. Match your behavior to the situation. Casual speech, as appropriate to an 18 year old customer, will not be as well received by a 50 year old. Behave well.
Top performers display COMPETENCE. Having the required skills, you never stop learning. Read everything – brochures, manuals, applications, booklets. And just because you knew it, doesn’t mean you still do. Change happens constantly. With technical courses, self-study, or group experiences, you can embrace the requirements of the job, the company and the industry. Your professionalism is up to you.
This is an excerpt from Becky’s upcoming e-book, The ABC’s of Top Performers. Watch this space for news of when and where you can find it.
We have our assigned tasks. We want to tell others what we know. We make suggestions as to what they should do. We want their signature on the dotted line. And we just want to move the line or get people off the phone.
Unfortunately, people don’t always follow our lead. They have opinions. They are suspicious of the deal. They are in a hurry. They don’t want to appear to make quick decisions.
But you can help them make those decisions. Asking the right questions can help them arrive at the right answers. Whether you are in travel, healthcare, education, financial services, flooring, or any number of industries, great questions help your customer get to the great answer of doing business with you!
Here’s how it usually works….
Bob: I need to make a deposit.
Sarah: Ok. Anything ease I can do for you? We have great checking accounts, VISA cards and loans. Not so great investment rates, but we are insured.
Bob: Do you have boat loans?
Sarah: We do. Would you like to talk to a loan officer?
Bob: Not right now. I’ve gotta go.
Sarah: Well, when you’re ready, call us. Thanks!
Here’s how it should work….
Bob: I need to make a deposit.
Sarah: I’m happy to do that for you, Bob. How have you been?
Bob: Pretty good. It’s been a good summer.
Sarah: What was the best part of the summer for you?
Bob: My brother-in-law let me borrow his boat for week. I loved it!
Sarah: Would you like to have your own boat?
Bob: I dream about having my own boat.
Sarah: What kind do you want?
What color do you want?
Where would you go?
Who would go with you?
Get Bob talking about the boat of his dreams. He’s imagining how it will look, how it will feel, how it will smell. He’s thinking about who will enjoy this boat with him. He can see himself at the wheel. During all this, you are asking WWWWWH questions and then letting Bob talk. What happens next?
Sarah: When would you like to have that boat, Bob? What if it were next weekend?
Bob: I would LOVE that!
Sarah: Let me see if a loan officer is available to talk to you.
You don’t have to be a salesman. You simply have to be present – physically, emotionally and mentally. Focus on the customer in front of you – or on the phone with you. When your product or service can meet that identified need, offer it. Just not a moment too soon.
(c)2013 Becky McCrary, CSP Often called the Carol Burnett of Convention, the Energizer in High-Heeled Shoes, a Red-Head Amy Poehler and Southern Sass, Becky is an internationally recognized expert in how we treat each other. From Sales & Service, Leadership, Diversity, Inspiration and more, her wit & wisdom has inspired association and corporate audiences to be physically, emotionally and mentally present.