Archive for category The Sales Dept

The gift that keeps giving

Do you get excited and curious when you get a parcel you weren’t expecting? (Okay so you have figured out it won’t go BANG) 🙂 :()

So earlier this week when a plain box was delivered to my address… I was like a kid on Christmas morning. (clearly I don’t get enough deliveries :))

What was it? why me? oh and who sent it… (yeah that’s important)

Lot’s of questions running through my mind the whole time as I juggled my keys to get in the door (I met the courier out front as I was trying to leave to go to an appointment) then as my dogs barked with excitement on seeing me (Guys it was just minute ago that I left!)

From who?

Turns out it was a company I chatted to last week.

I hadn’t done any business with this organisation yet, so I was a little surprised.

As I opened the package, in it was a stack of samples of their food products and some promo gear (more good quality pens and simple notepads with their info on them. I like those, very handy…)

They sent it as a way of thanking me for the support and value I’ve added to her business so far. (one chat over for about an hour or so and a few emails of info)


Now, here’s the thing.

They didn’t have to send me this gift, but I’m glad they did, it picks me up, reminds me of the value I gave 🙂 and keeps them ‘top of mind’ with me and that’s good, very good!

An old boss of mine MANY years ago liked to call these packages “a pot of gold” and if the gift was just right and well considered it would be shared, that was a BIG pot of gold. We would talk about it for ages. (yeah pretty dull office I know…)

So, it was a pleasant surprise… it put a smile on my face AND, most importantly, it’s something I WON’T forget in a hurry!

It’s simple…

Going over and beyond what you have promised to your clients – by surprising them with bonuses they weren’t expecting – is a great way to build a loyal following.

People may forget what you say, but they seem to always remember how you made them feel.

Even if it’s something like a handwritten thank you note (these gifts don’t need to be extravagant or expensive) it’s the thought that counts.

Keep giving things to people that delight them and make them feel good, check out their needs and aim to keep them happy. Remember. it’s the little things that count.

Customers have needs too!

Customers, they have the cash in their hot little hands and if your business offering is worthy, they will spend it with you… IF you are not worthy they may go elsewhere.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

Figuring out what they want is a matter of understanding they are generally not consciously aware of what they want in terms of how they want the experience to be. Thankfully there have been enough studies and research to help point the way. Here are a range of pointers to consider and work on so you can keep up with their needs and wants.

They want a solution to a challenge they face

If they are hungry they want food, if they have a car low on fuel they want to fill it, if they have any form of desire for an item or service they want a solution, if your business is in the right place at the right time they might choose  your business to provide that solution.

They want to feel good

After all who wants to feel bad when buying something. Make the buying experience personable, warm and welcoming so they can feel at ease early in the transaction. An emotionally rewarding experience will ensure the customer is enticed to purchase rather than pushed into a discount or other offer they may not connect with. If they can feel special at a range of stages in the sales process then you may just have a customer for life.

They want to be attracted, not pushed

They want to buy, not get sold to… The difference is a person motivated to do business rather than feeling uneasy about what’s taking place. By offering options and possibilities which you can readily support, explain etc will be a more positive stance for them to feel comfortable with.

People like destinations and journeys

Is the sales environment welcoming? Is the sales process a positive journey of discovery or a negative hassle? The more you can create a welcoming destination the more chances you have of getting positive results. Imagine arriving at a stunning oasis in a desert and then being wooed by a person who can readily show them around, taking them on a journey of discovery, now the destination just got better!

Champagne tastes on a beer budget

This statement applies to many customers but not all. They want the best but are only willing to pay the minimum to get it. Challenging I know, so what can you offer to make this possible? Big chain stores often entice prospects with a cheap option in their promotions, then show you options up from that lower cost enticement. People often want better and will ‘stretch the budget’ to make it fit to their wants and needs.

Inspire, intrigue, motivate

In a world where many things are standard packages, same old same old repetitive offerings, consider ways to alter that, aim to intrigue, inspire and motivate the prospect to think more about what they want and can readily get.

Make the purchasing options easy

Do you take cash, credit card, paypal or any one of a range of ways to take payment. are your terms fair and reasonable and set up to make it easy for the customer to say yes more often? If not, it’s time for a change.

Customers will know more

The information age has done that, now what are you going to do to work with this situation to be part of the customers ‘psyche’ and provide a platform to work from? Perhaps it’s a sign that points out key things to know about what you offer, but your word it to say “You already know about these things, but just in case you don’t…” You could also word up and test your sales team that customers can be “know it alls” and work with this to add more information, or work with the information to keep the customer on side.

They want it now

People have become used to getting things fast, if you don’t have what they want, now your competitor might well have it… you may have been the business they stopped at on the way to your competitor, simply because your were closer. In a customised product sale, make sure you point to that what you offer has to take time, set them at ease and clarify that you have to order items in, and deal with other work before their custom work can be attended to.

People want to know

When will it be ready? What the progress is… if there are any holdups… If there are any issues, challenges or differences. They want this so they can feel they are being dealt with honestly, ethically and openly. Even on a small scale fast transaction, let’s say serving fast food… “Thanks you order has now been placed and will be put together shortly… I’ll just wrap that for you now… I have put the napkins in the bag…” etc… All this adds up to an informed customer that can feel good about the process.

This list should provide you with a range of starting points to improve your service offerings. Take an honest look at what you currently do, any chances you, your team or the customer interaction space is letting the sales process down. Now make changes and watch out for the positive results.


Steve Gray

Does Your Business Squeak?


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles from

Recently  a person I know was offered what looked like a great deal which involved some vouchers, and what seemed like an easy to use system to redeem the vouchers. So far so good. “Oh and there’s a ten day cooling off period IF FOR ANY REASON you want a refund.”

The person went ahead.

Then the vouchers arrived in the mail, along with forms to fill in and lots of information about terms and conditions… Sure that’s fine. After reading the details and doing some internet searching the person found things were not easy, and there were some grumbles about the process from others who had also bought, in short the thing ‘squeaked’ in a way the person did not like.

Refund time. Not so fast…  one call to the number listed, lots of questions why? why WHY? they asked, but it’s such a good deal… two more phone calls to catch the “Customer Service Manager” only to be told, oh we don’t normally refund, are  you sure you want to. By now the person wants to get the refund so strongly they are ‘over’ the whole process and are becoming more angst ridden by the minute. Return the vouchers and the forms all intact, came the reply, “When we get all that we will definitely refund this for you, yes  you are within the cooliong off period.” said the Service Manager.

Two weeks go by, Ring ring… “I just wanted to ask about why you wanted a refund?” said a new person on the phone. “But the refund is due to come any day?” said our intrepid shopper. “Oh no that has not been finalised… we want to figure out if there’s anything we can do?” – “Um no just give me the refund please.” CLUNK goes the phone.

By this stage our shopper has been run through the mill and wants nothing to do with this company. Jumps straight on to the “interweb thingy” and writes a bad review on this organisation. Still awaiting a refund…

The upshot of all this is making sure your organisation is squeaky clean in its dealings, and makes sure that they are not aggravating people in any way or form. If people say no, they mean it, push things too far and you will be wondering why the reviews slam your business left right and centre. Oh and no this is not a threat, it’s how things are today, get used to it OH and know that most reviews on the web are there for the long haul, you can’t get most of them removed.

What will you do to make sure your business squeaks! Regards Steve Gray

Dear customer service guy…

So the customer service guy calls me for his six monthly “touch base” chat to see if everything is going OK. Yes it is thanks…

A few quick questions, an apology for calling in case it interrupted me… “No it hasn’t but go on…”

There was little point to the call other than to keep his name in the top of my mind, IF I wanted to buy a car from their dealership.” No I don’t but thanks…”

So where’s the value and how might he enhance the conversation to make it worth our while?

  • The value is that he has kept in touch, but that’s it.
  • The value could be enhanced if he had an offer for me, a test drive in a new model, the chance to go into a draw for some promo gift thingy to the value of… or even just sent a remember me gift (small cost effective thingy) or to tell me they have a new smart phone app or perhaps arrange an event to invite me to in their dealership.

Perhaps he could enhance the value by asking me a set of questions to establish if things have changed for us and our needs. A quick on the phone survey could give them great info (if they bothered to collect it).

It’s all about relationships, so is he managing to keep the relationship going or is he managing to just give me fodder for the blog J I like blog fodder!

Ok I like this guy, don’t get me wrong, but it must get hard for him just making these calls. Rather than being a cost to the company it could be a solid relationship building exercise, a wow factor exercise, an “Oh yeah and next time I want to buy a luxury vehicle, I will drop in and see you for sure…”. But it’s not, not yet.

Going past one no…

Oh please, dear sales person, if I say no once perhaps you had better dig a bit deeper, ask more questions…  if I have an objection about the price, then ask why… what do I already know and how do I know that.

If I have a niggle about one point, perhaps there are other points you can focus on… and hey how do you get past the issue of price “Why would I spend $5 – 6,000 if I can get one for $3-4,000?” simple, it’s like cars they do basically the same thing, some are perhaps better quality, some provide more status, you want quality and status, you pay… Here’s why (outline a benefit).

Oh and if you’re calling me in Australia but you have an American accent that sounds like you are in an overseas call centre and the line is crap, I am going to be suspect about you right from the start. Sure you get some points for being first on the phone after my email enquiry, but those points were soon lost.

I will probably buy, but from which company… let’s see who can sell to me the best. Sure price is not everything but a big difference in price gets me wondering and you need to be able to spell out how what you provide is better.

If your business is thinking of using a call centre to help with your leads, then do some CAREFUL research first.

“Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level then beat you with experience.” Dilbert.

So now I have had four calls from people wanting to set up an appointment – answer my questions – send me more info.

The first two – dodgy… American accents bad lines and hard to understand. ergh…

The second two, one female one male – the female asked great questions and provided good answers – the guy however ummed and arghhed a bit but got through the info, clarified a few points but still a bit average. He did suggest to check out the quality of the units I was after and to get lots of brand names and model numbers of the gear others were saying they would supply.

So who will I buy from… I will see if any other companies will ring today and compare the figures they say they will email me.


Day one got me a bunch of calls from interested parties, day two fielded some more and day FIVE I had a guy on the phone who said “So, got your enquiry, what do you want….” FAIL… he prattled on about quality and said he would email me the material… price “can’t match the low priced stuff, but it’s crap anyway…” (Ok thanks for the feedback, and also thanks for giving me the brand names I should be looking for that made things easier).

My research showed some interesting info, the lady who had chatted so nicely, had good info, and asked good questions to establish my needs the best… well turns out the Co she works for gets slammed in forums all over the net… and what’s also worrying they have about three different business names they trade under!! A quick search of those found more issues… oh boy it just became a bigger minefield!

The upshot, I found another company who looks like they can do the ‘right things’, I just need to get them to respond to the email I sent two days back! 🙂

Remember… “Great service is it’s own reward” Elbert Hubbard

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Don’t do it! – How not to be part of a trade show

A recent trade show, lots of activity and displays for all sorts of interesting suppliers, generally a good time was had, however one thing which struck me was the appalling use of mobile phones by those who’s stalls were not doing a brisk trade.

There were staff sitting and standing about texting or chatting on their phones, some CLEARLY bored out of their brains.

Dear Boss… Tell them not to do it please!

I was embarrassed for them and I was a spectator.

If you take a stall at a trade show, you are on show, the business is on show… Therefore make sure you do the right thing and present professionally and do it well.

Firstly, these people may have had no idea what to do when they got to the show, they may have been told to “Turn up and chat to people.”

Secondly, if you feel you must text or email people use a lap top or an i pad so you look like you are doing business, or don’t do it at all.

I fully appreciate it can be a hard task to be at a trade show and be attentive all day long, it really is a draining experience.

May I suggest.

These people need to have something to do,

  • Set the situation up so they have appointments with people before the event, book some prospects to drop in and see what’s going on.
  • Make it clear about the things they can and can not do while on the stand texting for more than 30 secs is a no no!
  • Ensure you use a friendly branding expert to have creative ways to work with the people walking by the stand. It may be a giveaway you actively hand to the people, get the chance to chat to them and find out more, qualify them to see if they are a fit to what you have on offer, if they are then get their details and reward them with a better handout, this time with solid “remember us” branding on it.
  • Perhaps involve the people in a survey.
  • Consider other novel approaches to create interest. A juggler, a celebrity… make it so the people walking by want to stop, engage them, qualify and go form there.
  • Just because a person is not a prospect now, does not mean they can’t change if they move companies or start a different business later on.

Simply put, having people just sitting or standing about mindlessly not engaged in “working the crowd” are a liability, not an asset. perceptions and image are often paramount to ensuring your business puts it’s best foot forward.

Oh and to finish, “To the man who was so rude as to ignore myself and my friend by looking straight past us once he had figured out we were of no use to him, think again. The scan tag telling you my line of business is only one of my business activities so you gave me a BAD impression of your business, so the very important question I wanted to ask you will wait for the next celebrity speaking bureau chief I meet.”

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Promoting Something To Death

The question ignited a discussion that absolutely exploded with insight. “What promotional products would be good to carry an anti-gang message for middle and high school kids?“, asked a member of the online discussion group.

Are you kidding me? ……… NONE!

I believe I put it best when I wrote, ” … might as well hand out bulls-eyes imprinted with “Gangs Suck” for children to wear on their back.” Seriously, putting an anti-gang message on something for children to carry around or wear – is a bad, bad idea. The good news is, the discussion brought to light a couple of insights we as marketers should keep in mind in order to keep the government, advocacy and activist groups out of our business.

1) When we take advantage of marketing opportunities, we must also recognize our tremendous responsibility. While we may have responsibility to shareholders, bottom line and market share, we must also remember that we have a responsibility to our industry and to the publics that are affected by our marketing efforts.

2 )Place emphasis on message not product. In the example above, the question, “What product do we put an anti-gang message on?” is product focused. However, had the question been, “What do we want to accomplish?” the focus could have been placed on promoting good as opposed to gang-bashing.

In an effort to not paint bulls eyes on the backs of non-gang children, many of us agreed that before worrying about which products would be appropriate, that it would be best to first change the focus of the thinking. Instead of thinking anti-gang we felt that the focus should be more along the lines of pro education, pro safety, pro future, pro self esteem or something else that doesn’t threaten the gangs.

One line of thinking is be, “Want to keep kids from joining gangs? Give them something else to join.” Now you’ve got the seed of an idea that could make for a campaign that could involve parents, band and athletic boosters, the school, school clubs, businesses, scouting, 4-H, social and civic organizations … the entire community.

For marketers, the question is, “Want to keep consumers from buying from your competitors? Give them a reason to buy from you.” Give them something to belong to.

Finally, as a public service, I want to re-emphasize the responsibility we shoulder as marketers. To that end I share with you a thought I cannot shake since I first read, “What promotional products would be good to carry an anti-gang message for middle and high school kids?

That neat, fun, do-dad with the wrong message on it … could get someone killed.

Have a nice day:)

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