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Join the elite group of sales professionals and leaders
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Take your influence and leadership to the next level.
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Learn foundational sales behaviors, strategies, and skills
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Learn from marketing expert and author Stu Heinecke
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Common Questions and Answers
Some salespeople are lucky enough to be selling unique products that have few or even no competitors. However, most salespeople find themselves in crowded marketplaces with a dozen or more companies competing for a finite pool of customers. If that describes your situation, you need a way to stand out and offer something that your competitors lack. And while you can’t control your product features and similar details, you can commit to providing excellent customer service — a highly valuable differentiating factor.
Excellent customer service can make all the difference between a satisfied and an unsatisfied customer. In fact, the weaker your product is compared to its competitors, the more important customer service becomes. It’s a well-known truism that a company can’t offer the best price, quality and service in the market — the best anyone can do is two out of three. So if your product is more expensive or lacks quality compared to others, you can still win and keep customers if your service is impeccable. Here are the most important factors for providing great customer service.
Great customer service is basically giving your customers what they want when they want it. How do you find out what your customers want? The easy way — you ask them. It’s amazing how often businesses will make changes to a product or launch a brand-new service only to find out that their customers hate the new offering. Get in touch with your customers on a regular basis to find out how they feel about your product, and ask if they have any suggestions to make it even better.
Talking to your customers frequently will also help you to identify any problems before they become critical. If a customer is not particularly happy with your company or your product, you’ll have a chance to make it right before they simply abandon your for one of your competitors.
Resolve Problems Gracefully
When you do find out about a problem, here’s the process you can follow to resolve it:
1.Apologize to the customer. It doesn’t matter if it was your fault or not, apologize anyway. A simple “I’m so sorry for the inconvenience” will work wonders in dissipating your customer’s anger.
2.Fix the problem or explain why you can’t. Don’t just let the customer hang there not knowing what’s happening. You must either resolve the problem at once or get back in touch with the customer right away and explain why you can’t change the situation.
3.Follow up a few days or weeks later to confirm that the problem is indeed resolved. This is also a great chance to touch base and make sure there aren’t any other issues lurking.
Customer complaints are an opportunity for you to prove your worth. Interestingly enough, fixing a problem in a helpful and pleasant way will make your customer more loyal to you than if no problem had occurred. After all, your customers don’t really think about you or your product… until it stops working or something goes wrong. When this happens, the product and the company come to the front of the customer’s mind. If he talks to you and you fix things for him, he’s now feeling good about your company. That’s an improvement over the merely neutral feeling he probably had about you before things went wrong.
Reward Your Customers
Businesses frequently launch promotions to attract new customers, but they rarely think to reward their existing customers. So giving your customers something of value now and then will make you stand out in a good way. These gifts can be as simple as a holiday greeting card with a coupon for the
next purchase from you, or as elaborate as a “Customer Appreciation Day” where you hold a party for your customers and hand out free food and prizes.
About the author
My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.
As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.