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Posts tagged ‘Pinnacle Performance Training’

Are Your Salespeople ‘Winging It’ on the Phone?

Winging It

Each and every interaction your salespeople have with potential customers on the phone is an opportunity to enhance customer relations, the image of your business and increase sales.

So, be honest, are your salespeople properly equipped to optimize each and every phone interaction they have with potential customers? If you’re like most businesses, then the answer is a resounding “no”.

‘Winging it’ on sales calls negatively impacts every business but here I’ll reference my area of business specialization, the tire/auto service industry.

For tire/auto service businesses that have the same employees selling both face-to-face (in the store) and on the phone, by far the more important area to improve is phone performance. For the reason why that is, see my previously published piece here > Top 3 Reasons Why Phone Skills Training Is Most Important In Sales.

In case any of this sounds like speculation, it’s well worth noting that it’s highly unlikely anyone has evaluated more sales calls between tire dealer employees and actual potential customers (not mystery shoppers) then my team and I at Sale Away have. The best way to measure training effectiveness, we have evaluated over 50,000 sales interactions since 2011 and that number is increasing daily!

Evaluating all those tire and service sales calls, most for market-leading tire/auto service businesses, has enabled us to teach clients specifically what works best to create customer engagement and sales on the phone. It has also confirmed that, before training, the vast majority of salespeople are indeed ‘winging it’. They have no real process and simply let the caller guide the conversation, responding with facts and figures and hoping for the order.

If You’re Not In Control, You’re Out Of Control!

If You're Not In Control You're Out Of Control

Salespeople that ‘wing it’ are not managing a call – the caller is – routinely breaking one of my top “Rules of Engagement”; If you’re not in control, you’re out of control!

Typically before training, as an example, a salesperson will respond to a phone tire inquiry with “what’s the size?” or “what’s the vehicle?” or both. This creates an indifferent first impression with the caller that often worsens when, not knowing what to say after those initial functional questions, the salesperson then asks “is there something particular you’re looking for?” or similar.

Imagine going to see your doctor for an ailment and he says, “do you have a particular medicine in mind?” Odds of that happening are about 0% yet odds are remarkably high that the equivalent of this is happening on your employee/customer calls right now. 

Without an effective sales process, sales reps default to mere order takers with recommendations based on size/inventory and most sales are made by being in the right place at the right time.

Professionals follow a sales process, amateurs ‘wing it’.

To improve customers’ buying experience and, ultimately, results for the business, all world-class companies train their employees a proven sales process.

To optimize performance on the phone, a clear sales methodology needs to be established and adhered to by your sales team. When we evaluate and literally score calls against our exclusive “Pinnacle Performance” sales process, each sales rep knows exactly how they performed on a given call and we can then pinpoint precisely what weak and/or missing areas of the process they need to improve upon moving forward.

Of course, mastering a sales process takes time and change, especially for those veterans that have been ‘winging it’ for years, is not easy. But, once institutionalized, the performance gains are well worth it.

If you are a tire business owner or manager, then you are leader of your team. It’s your job to make sure your team wins. Being properly prepared to most effectively manage every phone interaction and outperform the competition is a vital part of winning. ‘Winging it’ just won’t cut it.

Steve Ferrante is the Grand PooBah & Trainer of Champions of Sale Away LLC. As producer and host of Pinnacle Performance, “The Best Reviewed Sales/Customer Service Training Program in the Tire/Auto Service Industry”, Steve has received national acclaim for teaching independent tire and auto service businesses how to improve customer relations, produce greater sales results and build a ‘winning team’ corporate culture. Steve is also contributing “Selling Smart” editor for Tire Review Magazine

Pinnacle Performance Training Logo

To learn more about the program, visit Pinnacle Performance Training. Steve can be reached directly at 866-721-6086 ext. 701 or via email at steve@saleawayllc.com

Pinnacle Training 1 Page Overview

Pinnacle Performance Training Promo

Check out the new Pinnacle Performance Training promo…

Visit Sale Away LLC. for more information.

Make a Great Day!

Steve 🙂

6 Essential Success Traits of Top-Performing Salespeople

Sale Away Logo-2

As a professional sales trainer, I get asked regularly what it takes to be a top-performing salesperson and the fact is there’s no simple answer to that question. 

Having spent 25+ years in the sales industry myself, I have seen a wide variety of salespeople, from dreadful to truly great with most somewhere in between. Of course, top-performing salespeople are invaluable to any business as they typically represent the 20% of the team that generate 80% of the revenue or thereabouts.  

While there’s certainly no magic formula for producing sales superstars, I have found that there are proven principles that are directly applicable to high-achievers.  

Here are my six essential success traits of top-performing salespeople: 

1. BELIEF

Belief is the foundation of success. Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi said, “If you don’t think you’re a winner, you don’t belong here.” This quote fits perfectly with the attitude of top-performing salespeople. They possess a “champion mindset” and believe they are the best or capable of being the best.  

Along with the confidence in themselves, top salespeople also have an absolute belief in their company, industry and the products and/or services they sell. Whereas the belief in oneself is primarily personal, the belief in the company and its products/services is something that is created by way of the corporate culture and experience with the ownership and management of the business. 

2. ATTITUDE

I have written plenty on the importance of having a positive attitude. It certainly relates to providing world-class customer service and as a member of a winning team culture, but attitude also plays a major role in sales performance.  

The sales profession is predominantly one of rejection, with far more people saying “no” than “yes” to product and service offerings. That’s not particularly pleasant for any normal person to experience on a day-to-day basis. Poor to average performers tend to take rejection personally and that translates into a negative, pessimistic attitude that weakens their sales interactions.  

Top-performers have mentally conditioned themselves to maintain a confident, optimistic attitude. They realize that those inevitable rejections are par for the course and treat them as the stepping-stones to success.  

3. RAPPORT

Sales research supports that, in most cases, more than 75% of a customer’s decision to purchase is based on having good rapport with the sales person. Conversely, one of the main reasons customers ultimately decide not to purchase (even though they may need the product or service) is that they don’t feel a genuine sense of rapport with the sales person. So, yes it’s true, people buy you first and your products/services second.  

Top sales performers are also models for what I refer to as “Masters of Human Relations.” They possess the “people skills” to effectively communicate and connect with customers and build superior trust. Whereas a typical salesman will be a talker, a top performer usually excels at listening, enabling them to gather more information to aid in the selling process.  

4. GENUINE

Going hand-in-hand with rapport, top-performing salespeople also tend to genuinely care about their customers’ best interest, as opposed to poor/average salespeople that tend to care more about making a sale.  

Nearly everyone loves to buy, but no one likes to be sold. When a customer senses the salesperson really doesn’t care about them personally, they perceive the exchange as salesy schmoozing, not sincere communication and only performed because the salesperson was trying to sell them something.  

Obviously, this behavior damages trust and harms sales performance.  

Top-performing salespeople are genuinely customer-focused and take pride in helping customers solve their problems and meeting their needs.  

This caring behavior is true empathy, the ability to assume the customer’s position and adapt behavior to their feelings. This is especially important in a service business, as the majority of customers have some sort of problem that is causing them some amount of stress and/or grief. Top-performers maximize their effectiveness by always practicing empathy and keeping the customer’s feelings in mind.  

5. AMBITION 

The drive to succeed is essential for top performance. It never ceases to amaze me how many people in sales – probably 80% – are not true students of their profession.  

Other than sales activity during the day, they do little, if anything, to improve their skill set along the way. This is the equivalent of playing a professional sport and only showing up for the games, not practicing and expecting to win! 

With so much competition selling the same products and services, it is critically important that front line employees are well trained and regularly maintained.  

Top-performers – that 20% – understand this and invest the time to expand their knowledge base and hone their selling skills. They strive for continuous improvement and are committed to becoming an expert in their business/industry/products and a master at their craft – selling.  

6. ACCOUNTABILITY

Poor performers often blame everyone and everything else for their lack of success. The marketing department isn’t doing a good enough job getting leads, the economy is weak, the manager is a jerk, the computer system is slow, the coffee is too weak, the list goes on and on. 

Top sales performers do not focus on any of this or let anything outside of their direct control affect their performance. They spend their time and efforts focusing on results: How to beat the competition; how to improve/work around operational issues; and how to capitalize on the selling opportunities they do have.  

In my Pinnacle Performance training, I teach and preach the importance of working with PRIDE, an acronym for Personal Responsibility In Delivering Excellence. Top-performers ‘get it’ and have the mindset of what I refer to as “YOU Inc.”  

They take ownership as if they are in business for themselves (not by themselves) and assume 100% responsibility for their success or failure to control their own destiny.  

Seek these six success traits in your new hires, instill these principles in your existing sales team members, and reap the rewards.

Steve Ferrante is the Grand PooBah & Trainer of Champions of Sale Away LLC., providing Pinnacle Performance Sales, Customer Service and Winning Team Culture training, speaking and professional development services to success-driven businesses throughout North America. For detailed information visit Sale Away. Steve can be reached directly at 866-721-6086 ext. 701 or via email at steve@saleawayllc.com

Click-On Printable PDF > 6 Essential Success Traits of Top-Performing Salespeople

 

4 Seldom Considered Reasons Sales/Customer Service Training Fails

SuccessNothingLess

Regardless of what your business sells, training to maximize performance in sales and customer service should be an important piece of your success plan. Unfortunately, countless companies waste vast amounts of time and dollars on training that doesn’t produce the desired gains and ultimately fails.

There are a variety of reasons why sales/customer service training initiatives fail. Topics like matching the program to the business and needs of the participants is certainly high on the list when considering outside training resources but there are several other seldom considered factors that directly affect whether or not a sales/customer service training program will achieve a successful outcome.

1) Not Setting The Stage

Typically the engagement planning for sales/customer service training is with ownership and key management behind closed doors and away from the company personnel that the training is intended for. That’s perfectly acceptable as company training should be a managerial decision. However, once an engagement has been planned, ownership and/or key management should prepare personnel so they are properly positioned to most effectively receive the training.

Unfortunately, this step is often missed altogether. I have personally conducted programs (and am aware of many more) where I (or another trainer) arrived for the first day of training with a new organization and no one knows why they’re there. Participants haven’t been told anything other than to “show up”.  While skilled trainers can overcome this and create clarity for a successful commencement, obviously this is not the most conducive environment for learning.

Like a Broadway play, the stage should be properly set before the show begins. However, unlike a Broadway play, creating a positive learning environment need not be a major production. It could be as simple as an email and/or company newsletter announcement like this actual tire/auto service client piece:

“We are excited and proud to announce our new relationship with Steve Ferrante of Sale Away LLC! As the producer and host of the highly-acclaimed “Pinnacle Performance” sales/customer service/winning team culture training program, Steve is the trainer for numerous leading tire/auto service businesses across North America. Steve also serves as the contributing “Selling Smart” editor for Tire Review Magazine and their sister publication, Shop Owner. We have engaged Steve to provide training to all of our sales and customer support personnel and are extraordinarily confident that with his proven expertise and resources we can achieve new levels of success in 2014 and beyond! Our first sessions with Steve will begin on…”

Introduced this way, confusion is eliminated as company personnel know what to expect, and everyone is prepared to enter training with the proper positive mindset.

2) Disengagement

Training is only as good as the trainer providing it. For training to effectively produce meaningful (and sustainable) gains, the employees must first be engaged with the trainer. Many otherwise good programs fail because the attendees were not really engaged, became bored and tuned out long before any real gains were made.

This is the reason the first element in Sale Away’s Pinnacle Performance Credo is ENGAGE.

Any business considering an investment in training should make the “who” will be conducting the program a priority. Often companies sweat the what and where details of training and give relatively little consideration to the importance of who will be conducting their program.

Sometimes companies will appoint an existing employee to conduct training. Many times this presents a significant challenge as this person is already perceived, for better or worse, as something else in the company. Typically, the tasked individual is a sales or customer service manager and, although they may be outstanding in that role, training is almost always not their primary purpose or skill-set. Their well-intentioned efforts naturally don’t carry the weight or have the desired impact with employees as a reputable training authority from outside of the company would.

If you cannot see, feel and experience employee engagement with the trainer on the first training that’s a clear warning sign you’re heading down the wrong path and quite likely doomed to fail.  In a nutshell; engagement first then everything else second.  

3) Inconsistency

All too often sales/customers service training is treated as an event. A business conducts an in-house training and, assuming it was good, participants get energized with new insight, techniques and tools.  Then, with no real follow-up program in place, participants fizz out and return (at varying speeds) to the same level of performance they were at prior to training. Training research has revealed that, without ongoing reinforcement, 90% of what is learned is forgotten within 60-90 days.

Like physical fitness, it doesn’t matter how good your workout at the gym is today. If you don’t continue to exercise on a consistent basis, you will never truly get in shape and stay that way.

Part of the problem is many managers adopt a been-there done-that attitude when it comes to sales/customer service training. It sounds simplistic but training works with consistent training.

The science of training confirms that true ownership of learning is created with consistent exposure and application of the skills over time. World-class sales and customer service companies recognize this and typically engage their employees in 100 or more hours of training in their first year with ongoing training in the years ahead.

At Sale Away , I create consistency and superior results for clients by combining regular in-house sales/customer service training with an exclusive online training/professional development program. Visit Your Teams Training Portal for details.

4) Wandering Off The Path

This reason goes hand-in-hand with inconsistency but deserves separate acknowledgment. Like the proverbial kid in the backseat saying “are we there yet”, many business owners and managers view training as a destination with the goal of getting there.

Training should be viewed not as a destination – but rather an evolution. All too often, businesses will engage in a flavor of the month type of training, never fully developing any one area before moving in a different direction.

Imagine this: You play for a professional football team, let’s assume the New England Patriots under head coach Bob Belichick. Do you practice regularly? Of course. Do you practice at the game? Of course not, you practice for the game. What do you think the odds are that one day at practice coach Belichick will say something like this: “Hey guys, many of you have been training and practicing these same plays now for years. I think we all got it… no need to practice that anymore. Let’s play basketball today.”

Odds of that happening are exactly zero yet many sales managers do it regularly.  They switch things up, fumble the ball and ultimately miss the end zone.

This lack of focus directly correlates to reason # 2, disengagement, with many participating employees not trusting the business will stay the course and see any program to fruition.  If management demonstrates they are not fully committed to stay the course (with a successful program) then they shouldn’t expect their employees to be fully committed as they continue to introduce new initiatives to the mix.

Proper training is an ongoing process of continuous professional development. Just like a professional sports team, your sales/customer service team must regularly practice and work on their game through a disciplined and committed training program if they are to consistently win in (and for) your business.

Make a Great Day!

Steve

Steve Ferrante is the Grand PooBah & Trainer of Champions of Sale Away LLC., providing Pinnacle Performance Sales, Customer Service and Leadership training, speaking and professional development services to success-driven businesses throughout North America. For detailed information visit Sale Away. Steve can be reached directly at 866-721-6086 ext. 701 or via email at steve@saleawayllc.com

 Click-On for printable PDF version of this article >  4 Seldom Considered Reasons Sales Training Fails

 

 

Sale Away’s Pinnacle Performance Credo

Here’s my company’s new, special edition, less-filling, environmentally-friendly Pinnacle Performance Credo:

Pinnacle Performance Training

For details visit > Pinnacle Performance Credo

Feel free to share with friends, family, general bystanders and everyone in your professional network.

Make a Great Day!

Steve

Let’s Link-In!

Enthusiasts Drive Your Business

 Enthusiasm

Ever been to a NASCAR race? If you have, then you know those are special events well-attended by a special brand of people.

Having partaken in a couple NAS­CAR race-day events at NH Motor Speedway, I can testify that racing is alive and well, and New Hampshire is certainly not alone in attracting the masses to its local NASCAR events.

The first thing a novice attendee (like me) notices is just how far away from the track you have to park – so far removed that I couldn’t even remotely see the track from our parking spot. So you need good walking shoes.

As you trek the five or so miles to the track, the next revelation is the sheer magnitude of campers you encounter along the way. I lost count at 1,271 or thereabouts. And the fascinating thing is almost all of the campers are not locals. Taking in the license plates, you realize the whole country is here and accounted for, from as nearby as the New England states to the South, West, and everywhere in between.

Who are these people? And, more importantly, why did they travel all this way for this?

The answer is they’re enthusiasts, and, like NASCAR, your tire and auto service business is dependent on them to grow and prosper.

At a NASCAR event, these enthusiasts are loyal, devoted, committed followers who happily march the miles (and pay the fees) to attend each event – essentially, doing business with NASCAR as often as possible.

What a concept!

I also learned that there are not only NASCAR race enthusiasts, but more often than not, NASCAR race driver enthusiasts. Case in point: As I was sitting there watching the cars warm up before the flag dropped, the clearly southern gentleman next to me screamed at me, “Who ya here to see?” I wasn’t there to see anyone in particular, but using my keen powers of perception, I noticed he had a Jimmie Johnson hat, shirt and banner so I shouted back, “I like Jimmie Johnson.”

The guy turned to his pals and screamed, “He’s here to see Jimmie!” I was now part of the club, an insider enthusiast among true insider enthusiasts. Coincidentally, Jimmie Johnson went on to win the championship that season, a fact that likely earned me ‘fortune-teller’ status with my new friends.

A Winning Team

People love winners. Which brings me back to you and your business. Have you created a winning team at your business? As I wrote in my article “Eight Great Practices for Creating a Winning Team Culture”, your business must live “winning team” every day with leadership consistently demonstrating, communicating and reinforcing the company’s commitment to excellence.

Above all else, enthusiasts are enthusiastic. Winning teams are much the same in that they look like winners and act like winners. There’s an old saying in sales: “success breeds success.” The same is true for business.

Have a look at your staff. Are they communicating success or distress? Success looks a certain way. It has a good mood, stands tall, looks people in the eye, is attentive, confident and engaging.

Conversely, failure has an unmistakable look all its own. Disengaged, depressed, foot dragging, off-putting. If your business is the only one in town, a monopoly, none of this matters. I bet that is not the case. Given that consumers likely have many choices for your products and/or services, yours better convey “winning team.”

Buying is primarily an emotional experience. Customer loyalty is driven by emotional engagement. You need only be at a NASCAR event for 10 minutes to realize there is a very high level of emotional engagement there. It would take the Hulk to pry the typical fan away from the track.

Emotional engagement and creating enthusiasts is all about how customers feel when they do business with you and, more importantly, how they feel when they’re done.

Enthusiasts’ feel good about doing business with you and take it upon themselves to promote your business at every opportunity!

Steve 🙂

Steve Ferrante is the Grand PooBah & Trainer of Champions of Sale Away LLC., providing Pinnacle Performance Sales, Customer Service and Winning Team Culture training, speaking and professional development services to success-driven businesses throughout North America. For detailed information visit Sale Away. Steve can be reached directly at 866-721-6086 ext. 701 or via email at steve@saleawayllc.com

How To Avoid Being Punched In The Face

Here’s my practical, 10-step guide to avoid being punched in the face by way of improved human relations at work and life in general

Contribute positively to society by sharing this presentation with your friends and professional network.

Steve 🙂

Link In With Me @ Steve Ferrante on LinkedIn

HOW TO AVOID BEING PUNCHED IN THE FACE Cvr Pg

Training & Performance: If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Manage It!

If You Don't Measure

How do we measure training? It’s a question I hear frequently from my prospective Pinnacle Performance clients. By that they mean, “we’ve budgeted X amount of dollars for sales and/or customer service training, how do we measure our results and ensure we receive a worthwhile return on our investment?”

That is a great question, one I would no doubt ask if it were I in their position.

An obvious answer is to track and record sales results, close rates, customer appointments and other key performance metrics prior to training and then compare them to the results after training. While that is certainly recommended and should be charted throughout the course of any training implementation, this method does little to let you know how you stand in real time.

The best way to measure the effectiveness of training and employee’s sales performance is to monitor activity at the point-of-sale.

There are two point-of-sale areas that business owners should be monitoring on a day-to-day basis; face-to-face and telephone interactions.

For an objective look at employee performance in face-to-face interactions, I highly recommend contracting the services of a professional mystery shopping company.  A high-caliber mystery shop company will use well-trained “secret shoppers” to provide you with an accurate picture of the customers perspective while conducting business with your company. Over my 10 years in the training industry, I have had experience with both very good and a few not-so-good mystery shop companies. If you’re looking for a recommendation, email me with your company website and contact info at steve@saleawayllc.com and I’ll provide my best choice for your consideration.

Then there’s the phone. As detailed in my Top 3 Reasons Why Phone Skills Training Is Most Important In Sales article, for business’s that sell both face-to-face and on-the-phone, phone skills is the most important area of employee development.

The best way to manage employee performance on the phone is to record and evaluate actual customer calls. While call-in mystery shops can be useful to establish a baseline and determine if employees are performing their selling fundamentals, these scripted interactions simply don’t have the spontaneity and challenge employees the way genuine customer calls do.

I am quite familiar with the companies that provide call recording services and have found none better than my resource partners at Convirza (formerly LogMyCalls). For ease of operation, recording and tracking capabilities, scorecard administration and reporting analytics their program is simply top notch and my recommendation for all my Pinnacle Performance clients.

BEEN THERE NOT DOING THAT

It’s important to note that many companies are already recording their customer calls. If so, you’re only halfway there. The other half – the more important half – is monitoring and evaluating those calls on how well employees are meeting, or not meeting, the established selling system.

In the case of my clients,  industry-specific scorecards are created to evaluate and measure every element of the Pinnacle Performance sales/customer service model as tailored for the business. Armed with the evaluation data, we can then pinpoint precisely where an employee is weak or missing key elements and provide the coaching to improve sales/customer service performance in real time!

As renowned management consultant Peter Drucker once said: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” That is certainly true of sales/customer service training and there’s no better way than evaluating employees real-time performance at the point-of-sale.

For Details Visit > MEASURING TRAINING EFFECTIVENESS

Make a Great Day!

Steve 🙂

Steve Ferrante is the CEO & Trainer of Champions of Sale Away LLC., providing Pinnacle Performance Sales, Customer Service and Leadership training, speaking and professional development services to success-driven businesses throughout North America. For more information on Steve and Pinnacle Performance services for your team visit saleawayllc.com

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Top 3 Reasons Why Phone Skills Are Most Important In Sales

Phone Guy

As a professional sales/customer service trainer, I work with many businesses that sell (or have opportunities to sell) both face-to-face and on the phone. Of course, from a development perspective, both of these point-of-sale areas need to be addressed with an effective methodology and a process institutionalized to maximize selling opportunities.

But what area is more important, face-to-face or on-the-phone? I can attest with unwavering certainty, that for businesses where the same employees sell both ways, the phone is by far the more important of the two areas. In fact, I often paraphrase Sinatra’s famous line when speaking about telephone relations to my training clients: “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” Why are phone skills most important?

Here are my Top 3 Reasons:

1) Resistance is Greater

Simply put, selling face-to-face is easier. When a prospective customer takes the time and effort to visit your store or office they have made a higher level commitment to buying from your business than they would have simply phoning in. More often than not a prospective customer’s visit is premeditated, they have determined in advance that you can provide what they need/want and arrive with the intent to buy.

That’s not to say that salespeople don’t lose face-to-face sales opportunities as this is a regular occurrence in companies where the salespeople are not well trained and/or don’t follow an effective sales process. It’s just easier as  face-to-face customers’ resistance is typically much less than the phone-in prospect that is often just ‘calling around’ for pricing and specifications.

2) Escape-ability is Higher

When a customer is face-to-face they cannot easily do anything but interact with you and other members of your team. When a customer phones the business expressing purchase consideration in your products and/or services it is extraordinarily easy for them to disconnect and call one of (or all of) your competitors at light speed if they are not effectively engaged.

Human nature plays a role here too. There’s an emotional element when two people interact face-to-face that doesn’t exist on the phone. Accordingly, it’s considerably easier to hang-up and end a phone interaction than it is to walk out on someone face-to-face.

Add in the fact that (to point #1) they took the time and effort to visit your location, most customers are far more willing to stay put and try to make a deal even if the interaction with their salesperson is less than a high quality experience. Contrast that to a phone interaction where if the caller is not engaged and/or doesn’t feel they’re receiving the best service to meet their needs they can swiftly move on to the next service provider with a few clicks.

3) Communication Deficit

While number one and two have a major impact, the single biggest reason phone skills training is most important in sales is in communication itself.

As you may know, there are 3 elements that compose communication; words, tonality and body language. In face-to-face interactions, salespeople have all of these communication tools at their disposal to maximize their selling capability. Conversely, on the phone, the single biggest component of communication, physiology (body language) is absent and the salesperson must rely only on what they say (words) and how they say them (tonality).

For these reasons, any business that has salespeople that sell both on the phone and face-to-face should emphasize phone skills training and development to offset the disadvantages and maximize their sales opportunities!

Printable PDF of this article > Top 3 Reasons Why Phone Skills are Most Important in Sales

Now that we’ve covered the importance of phone performance, what should you and your team be doing on the phone to maximize results? Plenty and much of it is covered in this Tire Review magazine cover story featuring yours truly > Phone Skills Drill

Have a look and, by all means contact me if your team needs help with phone skills to win more customers for your business 

Make a Great Day!

Steve 🙂

Steve Ferrante is the CEO & Trainer of Champions of Sale Away LLC., providing Pinnacle Performance Sales, Customer Service and Winning Team Culture training, speaking and professional development services to success-driven businesses throughout North America. For more information on Steve and Pinnacle Performance services for your team visit saleawayllc.com

Leader Lessons in Delivering World-Class Customer Service from Amazon.com

a.com_logo_RGB

I love Amazon! Over the past 10 years or so, I have purchased countless items from Amazon.com; books, office supplies, DVD’s, electronics, coffee, assorted gifts and a lot more. In fact, rarely does a week go by without at least one Amazon package arriving from UPS.  I even have my own “Recommended Reading Store” powered by Amazon.com. You can (and really should) visit it here > Steve’s Recommended Reading

Apparently, I am not alone in my infatuation with the company. In the published 2011 Temkin Experience Ratings, Amazon was ranked #1 in customer service out of 143 large companies across 12 industries. According to Temkin, the results were based on feedback from 6,000 US consumers that evaluated three components of the customer experience:

  1. FunctionalHow well do experiences meet consumers’ needs?
  2. AccessibleHow easy is it for consumers to do what they want to do?
  3. EmotionalHow do consumers feel about the experiences?

Anyone who has participated in my Pinnacle Performance sales/customer service training can tell you this is remarkably similar to my teachings of the ingredients of a properly-balanced world-class customer service organization. As an example, far too often I see businesses that focus too much attention on meeting customers “functional” needs, compromising or outright neglecting the “emotional” aspects of the customer experience.

As I have stated many times, great customer service is a feeling thing; its how the customer feels when they’re doing business with you and, more importantly, how they feel and the stories they tell when their business transaction is complete. Amazon, as well as any company, figured this out and committed to consistently delivering a complete customer experience.

Speaking of Amazon’s customer-centric philosophy and success, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said;

“If there’s one reason we have done better than of our peers in the Internet space over the last six years, it is because we have focused like a laser on customer experience, and that really does matter, I think, in any business. It certainly matters online, where word of mouth is so very, very powerful.”

Here are a few Amazon best practices that every tire/auto service business can also do to improve the customer experience, customer retention and sales:

  • They Personalize

When you purchase an item (any item) from Amazon, you will often receive an email back that reads “customers that purchased what you just purchased are also interested in these items”.  Every time you visit their website and search for an item you are also shown alternative items that other customers have ultimately purchased. These types of recommendations personalize the customer experience and make customers feel like someone is paying attention and is interested in helping them. Speaking from personal experience, Amazon not only knows my buying history they use it effectively to introduce me to other items aligned with my interests.

How well do you monitor and manage your customers specific service/product purchase potential? How well do you communicate this with them in ways that do not feel generic or one-size-fits-all?

  • They Keep You Informed

One of the biggest consumer grievances in all of customer service is the lack of progress updates once a business transaction is underway. This is especially true of service providers where consumers typically experience anxiety and frustration when they are not kept informed of developments with their job.

This issue rarely, if ever, occurs at Amazon. Place and order and you’ll receive an instant email with your order confirmation and estimated time of delivery. Not long after that first email you’ll receive another with your shipping information and tracking number. Any questions along the way can easily be administered by email or, if you prefer, by calling a real live human-being on their customer service line.

Do you practice pro-active customer-contact? When customers are waiting for service, do you check-in with them and provide progress updates? Do you phone customers if their service may be longer than originally anticipated?

  • They Reward You

Amazon apparently understands a fact I reference in my training; keeping your existing customers is cheaper and more profitable than getting new ones. Accordingly, they have created a rewards program that, well, rewards customers for their loyalty.  As an Amazon Rewards card holder, members receive points on purchases transacted with the card and can then apply those points as rebate dollars towards future purchases – something I regularly do!

Amazon is not alone in this endeavor. Most industry-leading retail and service companies have some type of customer rewards or loyalty program. Why? Because they work to strengthen the customer relationship, make customers feel that their business is valued above and beyond the transaction at hand, and provide an added incentive to continue the relationship.

What does your customer rewards program look like? If you don’t have one, why not? Are you losing business to competitors that may be benefiting from their program?

  • They Practice Customer-First When Things Go Wrong

As I wrote in my Winning and Losing with Customer Complaints article in Tire Review magazine, the true test of a business’s customer service effort is not when things are going right – but rather what is done when things go wrong.

Consider this personal experience I had while attempting to purchase an MP3 player as a Christmas present for my daughter. Below is the self-explanatory communication between myself and Amazon customer service.

Me

My MP3 product was delivered today. It arrived in a thin white box with “BP Consulting” on the return address. I opened it and was (still am) shocked and upset to find the product in a plastic bag with PC connecting wire and headphones – that’s it. There is no original product packaging, users manual, mfg info, etc. I will leave packaging feedback with photo shortly.
This is a gift and I can’t give it as is. Looks like I purchased, discarded packaging, used and re-gifted this way.

 Very Disappointed and Need Resolution ASAP (or sooner)

Actual response from Amazon.com Customer Service (received 3 hours after original message)

Hello,

I’m sorry to hear if your MP3 disc player arrived that way. This usually doesn’t happen. We make every attempt to package items securely to protect them during shipping, but sometimes cases like this occur.

We always appreciate customer input on how we can improve our store, and I’ve forwarded your message to our shipping department.

I want to make this things right for you, so I’ve requested a full refund of $79.99 for the MP3 disc player, since you received the item that way. This refund will appear as a credit on your American Express card in the next 2-3 business days.

We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Did I solve your problem?

Best regards,

Donna A.

Amazon.com

This response is right on many levels; there’s empathy, appreciation, no blame, accountability and action. You’ll notice I didn’t ask for a refund but that’s exactly what I received. Customer service champs like Amazon realize it is far better to lose a little bit now then it is risking the loss of a customer for life.

Do you have a customer-first complaint resolution process? Do all your employees understand and are empowered to use it?

Amazon practices world-class customer service every day. Following their lead can make a real difference in your business results as well!

Steve

Steve Ferrante is the CEO & Trainer of Champions of Sale Away LLC., providing Pinnacle Performance Sales, Customer Service and Winning Team Culture training, speaking and professional development services to success-driven businesses throughout North America. For more information on Steve and Pinnacle Performance services for your team visit saleawayllc.com

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