Tag Archives: Relationships

How to Onboard Salespeople in 3 Steps

How to Onboard Salespeople in 3 Steps

Onboarding salespeople is one of those activities where “act in haste; repent in leisure” certainly applies.  There’s a big difference between “doing it” and “doing it right.” If you rush onboarding now to get them out in the field quickly, you’ll probably regret it later.  This also goes, by the way, for industry experience hires, as I explain in this video.

In this video, I explain how to build a 90-day, three-step process for successfully onboarding salespeople so that they succeed now and later.  Make no mistake – a great onboarding process results in more successful salespeople AND greater sales longevity.

Want my help? I can help you build a great onboarding program as part of one of my Hiring Assistance programs.

How Salespeople Can Maximize Their Time And Relationships During Covid-19

How Salespeople Can Maximize Their Time And Relationships During Covid-19

If you’re like most salespeople, you’re working as hard as you can to get a good path forward going during the Covid-19 crisis. Maybe you’re having more trouble getting ahold of prospects, or maybe you’re struggling with in-house interactions.  And, if you’re like me, you’re getting very tired of two popular video types that I’ve seen:  The “Sunshine and Roses” video, or the “Get off your butt and just sell” video.

I think it’s time to get real.  Let’s get serious about where we are in the sales profession, what’s available to us right now, and how we can best use our time and talents to recover from Covid-19 as best we can.  In this video, I explain my thoughts.

Four Easy Steps to Great Customer Service

When I talk to business owners about taking good care of their customers, and about maximizing their relationships, some of them seem to think that satisfying the customer’s requirements and providing great service requires Herculean efforts on the part of themselves and their staffs. The truth is that, most of the time, giving customers a service experience that will keep them coming back isn’t hard at all; in fact, I’m convinced that sometimes, it’s harder to provide bad service than good.

Case in point – I was recently at one of the popular “casual dining” restaurants for dinner. The name isn’t important; most of the things I’m about to talk about are interchangeable. Now, when I’m eating at one of these places, I don’t expect to be dazzled. Just bring me my burger/fajitas/salad/pasta/etc., keep the drink glasses full, and I’m a pretty happy guy. As, I’m guessing, are most of you when you eat at these restaurants. Unfortunately, that was too much to ask on this night.

The waiter managed our chips and salsa and drink orders OK. Then he took our food orders, and as is the custom in entirely too many of these places, he did so by memory, without writing anything down. Apparently, he was a mite too busy for his memory to be really effective, because 10 minutes later, he came back, verified my wife’s order, and asked, “uh, what did you have?” I restated my order, and he apologized profusely and explained that he was “very busy with all the people coming in.” Yep, that would be called the “dinner rush.”

Once upon a time, when waiters came to take your order, they used a little pad and pen, and WROTE THINGS DOWN. Amazingly, when waiters write things down, my orders come out correctly more often than not. When not, it appears to be something of a crapshoot. The problem isn’t limited to restaurants, though; in my career, when I’ve seen customer service screw-ups, they are more often than not caused by faulty memory (with a lack of data recording) rather than by too much data recording.

Think about your own business. How many people are involved in the fulfillment of each order? How much of your order fulfillment process is communicated on paper, and how much is verbal? We’ve all seen the exercise where one person whispers a phrase to someone, who repeats it to the next person, and by about the fifth person, the phrase is completely different. If you rely too much on memory and verbal communication, that’s your order process.

It’s worse in selling and relationship development. The average salesperson will interact with anywhere from 10 to 50 customers per week. If that salesperson is making face to face calls on a customer once per month, he will have had anywhere between 40 and 200 sales calls between calls on that one particular customer; if he relies strictly on memory for important details about the relationship, he’d better have a Guinness World Record level memory.

As a customer, I can tell you that few things are as frustrating as having to backtrack and cover old ground with salespeople who are forever one step behind in relationship development. Frankly, those salespeople usually find themselves on the outside looking in. So you won’t be one of those people, here are some quick techniques to help you excel in service and relationship development:

  1. Take good notes on every customer interaction. It all begins here. First of all, studies show that we are more likely to remember that which we write down, and secondly, once written down, it’s captured for posterity – details and all.
  2. Have a database and use it.       The most important details should be recorded in a database format – programs like ACT and Goldmine are cheap enough now that there’s no excuse for NOT using them.
  3. When details change, communicate – IN WRITING or data – to everyone who affects the customer.       Knowing that your customer will now only accept shipments on Tuesday is great; if the shipping clerk doesn’t know, it’s a problem. And as I noted, don’t just communicate verbally – take the time to send an e-mail, write a memo, etc.
  4. Archive your notes. I discovered a long time ago that if I attempted to retype every note from every sales call into my own database, I’d do little else (I’m a prodigious note-taker). However, I can scan those pages to a document, place that document in an archive folder, and link it to the customer’s record – with a note or two in the database about what is in the note pages.       That preserves them for all time, and it’s a lot handier than the “pile of old legal pads” filing system that a lot of us have used.

If this column seems a bit elementary, I’m fine with that; providing great customer service is often elementary. That doesn’t mean it happens often enough. If you resemble this remark, maybe it’s time to revise some things.

The Most Valuable Commodity You Can Market

From time to time, I enjoy engaging practiced salespeople and sales managers in conversation about selling on a deeper level. One such conversation that happened this week centered around the question, “what is the most valuable quality salespeople can bring to the table?” Answers ranged from “product knowledge” to “likeability” to “good communication,” and on into “expert questioning” before one of the salespeople hit the correct answer – the answer that trumps all of the above.

That answer is trustworthiness. The reason it is the trump card is simple; if the customer doesn’t believe what you say, it doesn’t matter how well you know your subject matter, and if the customer doesn’t trust you, they won’t answer questions honestly. Trust, then, is a prerequisite for all activities that center on communication – selling in particular. In that spirit, this week I’ll share a few methods for building trust with customers, but first I have to share one of the most outrageous stories of a salesperson ruining his customer’s trust in him. It’s too good a story not to share.

It seems that this salesperson was employed by a cleaning company that was providing janitorial services to a group of hospitals. The hospital management liked him a lot, and liked the service provided. They believed in him and the quality and integrity of his company. Then came a charity golf tournament.

As a friend of mine (who happened to be in the same fivesome as this salesperson) explained, “It was a typical five-man scramble; one guy would hit into the sand, one into the woods, one way into the rough, one guy would dunk a ball and one would get stuck in a tree somewhere (sounds like my own lack of a golf game wouldn’t have been out of place – but I digress). The salesman would hit first on each hole, then drive the cart down the fairway to ‘spot’ for the team. When the rest of the group had hit and went down the fairway, a ball would have magically appeared in the middle of the fairway with the salesman explaining that one of the shots ‘kicked’ into the fairway.” Yep – he was cheating in a charity golf tournament. But wait – it gets better.

It seems that the key decision maker for the hospital account was also in this same fivesome, and what was happening wasn’t escaping him. In fact, immediately after the 18th hole, the manager left in disgust, skipping the post-tournament party. Slick Salesman wasn’t done, however. He did the same thing a month later – at a tournament sponsored by the hospital. After getting a feel for this guy’s character, the hospital management began watching everything that the janitorial company did, and lo and behold, they found bad billing, cleaning that was supposed to be done that wasn’t, and other problems. Long story short, the salesman is no longer employed by the company, and the company no longer has the account. The moral of the story? Some salespeople believe that trust is solely generated by work habits and activities; the truth is that anything you do that shows a lack of integrity can ruin your trust. In that spirit, here are some ways that you can build trust with your customers:

Do what you say, and say what you will do: This is so painfully obvious that I hate to even say it, but I encounter salespeople on a daily basis who think nothing of not fulfilling promises in a timely fashion. When you make a promise to a customer, they remember it. When you fail to fulfill that promise, they remember it FOREVER. It’s not that tough; only promise what you can actually do, then DO IT.

Do the right thing, even when you think no one is looking: Someone once said that this was the very definition of integrity. Sometimes, you’ll be tempted to behave in ways that you would never think of doing if you knew a customer was watching; guess what? They might be. Several years ago, I was in Minneapolis making calls with a salesperson as a favor to a branch manager of the company I worked for. On our second call, the customer got a look at my salesman and immediately threw us out. It turns out that, the night before, the salesman had been out at a bar, got a few drinks in him, and started a conflict with another patron over a particular seat at the bar. Huge stuff, right? Well, it turned out to be. The other patron turned out to be the person he wanted to sell to the next morning. Behave like a jackass in public at your own peril; you never know who is watching.

Keep your big yap shut when it needs to be: These days, customer confidentiality is huge. Salespeople are regularly trusted with company secrets of their customers. Unfortunately, many salespeople are “Instant babbler, just add beer.” I’ve seen salespeople who think nothing of telling me incredibly confidential details about their customers – stuff that their customers would probably have a heart attack if they knew the salesperson was repeating indiscriminately. If you want to continue to have your customers confide in you, you must respect and value that confidence by keeping it.

Respect your customer’s boundaries: Sometimes, there are pieces of information that your customer doesn’t want to give, or places they are unwilling to take you. If that’s the case, consider it a measure of the increasing bond of trust when your customer eventually gives you those pieces of information or takes you those places. Continue pressing immediately for them and your customer will back off.

Of course, because trust is such a huge subject, there are many more ways to build it. However, this has hopefully given you some things to look for in conducting yourself and building trust in your customer base.