Turning Customer Relations Into An Advantage

Customer RelationsIf you’re like many people, you may have a car that is at least 12 years old. If it’s been that long since you have bought one, you might be surprised that your next car buying experience may be shorter and more pleasurable. That’s because customer relations has changed.

Mark Sweeney, President of Mark Sweeney Buick GMC, shared with me his perspective on how to treat customers and why it is so critical to his business.

After listening to his insights, it may make sense to assess how you are handling customer relations for your business.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM MARK SWEENEY, PRESIDENT OF SWEENEY BUICK GMC

HOW DO YOU ADJUST TO CHANGING CONSUMER PREFERENCES?  (1:45 in)

In Mark’s words – Even though things have changed, the customer really hasn’t. We try to make them feel at home. It’s an atmosphere where they won’t feel any pressure from the sales people or the managers. We realize that it is a more educated buyer.

Insight – The more educated buyer makes more informed decisions quicker. The mating dance to a sale is quicker. Today’s sales are made by facilitating information rather than hard selling the buyer.

IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU TRY TO EXCEED CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS? (3:02 in)

In Mark’s words – Free loaner cars, car washes, valet pick up and drop off, after hour sales to cover all bases.

Insight – By doing customer relations the right way, by making it easier for customers to do business with you, the more business you will get from them.

HOW HAS THE INTERNET CHANGED YOUR SALES PROCESS (3:31 in)

In Mark’s words – The buyers are more educated so it makes it easier for us to make the sale. Just ask qualifying questions in terms of how they found the vehicle, how they found us. If they saw it on an internet site, we know that they know the pricing.     

Insight – Decisions are made easier when the buyer feels comfortable and trusts the seller. Sweeney creates a casual atmosphere, including having dogs on the premises, to make the buying process a more pleasurable experience.

HOW IMPORTANT IS INTERNET ADVERTSING TO YOUR BUSINESS? (7:27 in)

In Mark’s words – We have found definitely the internet is the place to be. Seventy-five percent of our sales are generated through the internet.

Insight – Although the internet is paying off in a big way, the dealership realizes that traditional advertising on TV, radio and through events is important too for product and dealership awareness.

HOW MIGHT THE INTRODUCTION OF A NEW BATTERY OPERATED CAR AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS? (10:37 in)

In Mark’s words – Anything new does help but you have to stock more cars. Technicians have to be trained. Anything new like that is a learning process.

Insight – With any product addition or subtraction, it’s important to consider all of the other aspects of the business that may be affected – logistics, personnel, advertising, marketing, sales, finance, etc.

HOW MIGHT THE INTRODUCTION OF SELF DRIVING CARS AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS? (12:11 in)

In Mark’s words – It will be a small percentage of the market. It’s hard for me to imagine that someone doesn’t enjoy driving a vehicle.

Insight – Having an ear to the ground on how consumers respond to this change early on should give auto dealers sufficient time to adjust to any significant new trends.

 

Why Remodel Your Sales Force?

Remodel Sales ForceThere are times in the life of every business when bold decisions are required to move forward rather than back.

Such was the predicament of GenTherm’s medical division CSZ (Cincinnati Sub Zero). In order to meet the performance expectations of their company parent, they completely changed the personnel and organization of their sales force.

Gary Price, Director of Global Sales and Marketing for CSZ tells us how he did it. The lessons here apply to hiring a single sales person or a new army.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM GARY PRICE OF GENTHERM’S CSZ – CINCINNATI SUB ZERO

WHAT LED YOU TO RE-ORGANIZE YOUR U.S. SALES ORGANIZATION?  (2:23 in)

In Gary’s words – The healthcare market is under tremendous cost pressures and there is a lot of competitive pressure. Many of these organizations (competitors) have multiple divisions or reps. We were lucky to get one or two sales calls a week and they’re getting several calls a day. The level of expertise on our products was not there as well.

Insight – Assess the depth and quality of the sales calls and service of your sales force.

WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF YOUR NEW SALES FORCE? (3:24 in)

In Gary’s words – Have our reps represent themselves as a trusted adviser. Reduce territory so they could get better penetration.

Insight – A consulting sales approach is known to be better received by customers than hardball tactics.

DESCRIBE YOUR RE-ORGANIZATION PROCESS AND THE STEPS YOU TOOK? (4:28 in)

In Gary’s words – We engaged a company to help us analyze the market potential. From there we chose the top 33 cities we needed to make an investment and put a direct rep in. Then what size territories are to get the penetration. Then what’s the profile of the rep we want. We put together a recruiting and interview plan.  

Insight – Consider using a company / sales assessment tool to uncover things you don’t necessarily pick up in an interview. Obtain competitive information on what competitors are paying sales reps.

HAVE YOU BEEN PLEASED WITH THE PROCESS AND THOSE YOU’VE HIRED? (8:45 in)

In Gary’s words – We have. It took about 7 months to get them hired. We’re starting to track the activity metrics, the pipeline growth. It’s all very encouraging.

Insight – Once the new team is in place, CSR isn’t leaving its sales force to fend for themselves. Monthly training activities are in place to sharpen sales skills and deepen product knowledge.

DID YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR MARKET SHARE WAS BEFORE YOU DID AN ANALYSIS? (11:36 in)

In Gary’s words – We did not. It gave us some really good data.

Insight – The assessment of market share and competitor standing helps CSR with developing their sales targets.

IF YOU HAD TO GO THROUGH THIS PROCESS AGAIN, WOULD YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY? (12:25 in)

In Gary’s words – The biggest challenge is trying to estimate what the return on investment is going to be, meaning how much lift are you really going to get from an indirect to a direct sales force. Modeling of expense and lining that up with revenues is probably the most challenging part.

Insights– It may take 90 days or more for even seasoned sales reps to begin to generate sales at the level you want.

YOUR ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE FOR INTERNATIONAL SALES IS DIFFERENT, ISN’T IT? (15:49 in)

In Gary’s words – We have about 80 some distributors around the world. They’re their own businesses. They buy at a wholesale price and sell at whatever the market will bear in their country.

Insights – This arrangement works well to overcome language and cultural barriers and well as for handling compliance with government regulations.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE ELSE LOOKING TO RE-MAKE THEIR SALES FORCE? (17:43 in)

In Gary’s words – Be very clear on your goals. Invest in the planning upfront.

Insights– If you have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, going through the planning process and executing a plan to get there is easier to achieve.

Peak Sales Performers Are Out There

Peak Sales Performers
Results of Peak Sales Performers

If your businesses sales aren’t where you want them to be, it may because you don’t have any peak sales performers on your team. You have to stop hiring people with the wrong “stuff” and know how to get the most out of them. That’s the sage advice from my conversation with Tony Cole of the Anthony Cole Training Group.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM TONY COLE OF THE ANTHONY COLE TRAINING GROUP

WHAT ARE COMMON BARRIERS TO SALES GROWTH?  (1:18 in)

In Tony’s words – What are your systems and processes like? Did you hire (sales staff) them that way or did you make them that way? Does the sales managed environment have the right components?

Insight – Successful selling is more about you than external hurdles you may have to overcome.

WHAT DOES A COMPANY NEED TO DO TO HAVE PEAK SALES PERFORMERS? (2:38 in)

In Tony’s words – Hire them. The selection process is not simple. Most companies look for the wrong stuff.

Insight – To make the right hires possess a depth of knowledge about what you need and how you’ll recognize it in a potential peak sales performer when you see it.

HOW DOES A PEAK PERFORMER GO ABOUT DOING THEIR BUSINESS? (3:43 in)

In Tony’s words – They don’t do it alone. They have a coach. They spend a lot of time doing the right things and don’t make excuses.    

Insight – Peak sales performers take ownership of their role and put it upon themselves to improve or make changes to maximize performance.

IS IT POSSIBLE FOR ALL SALES PEOPLE IN AN ORGANIZATION TO BE PEAK PERFORMERS? (6:16 in)

In Tony’s words – The answer is yes.

Insight – Peak performance measurements are different for each individual according to their experience and capabilities.

WHAT TYPE OF GOALS NEED TO BE SET FOR PEAK SALES PERFORMERS? (7:45 in)

In Tony’s words – They’re the ones that decide this is the peak they want to attain.

Insight – Goals are usually set too low and often are just suggestions. Goal setting from the top down is a mistake. If your sales people resist a bottom up goal setting process, you have the wrong people.

WILL TOP SALES ORGANIZATIONS MEASURE TIME ON TASK FOR ALL SALES RELATED ACTIVITIES? (14:54 in)

In Tony’s words – Yes. Most companies, even when successful aren’t hitting on every cylinder.

Insights– Often companies that hire outside sales development organizations are not broken but seek assistance to reach the next peak.

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE IN THE TYPE OF TRAINING PEAK SALES PERFORMERS SHOULD RECEIVE VERSUS OTHERS? (17:03 in)

In Tony’s words – The training they need is more like practice management. What types of things should I look at to get to the next level….renewing that motivation

Insights – You’re wasting money if your sales training dollars are spent on standardized training for everyone in the sales organization.

Where’s the Artist in Your Sales Pitch?

Art of Sales PitchWould you believe that the sales pitch you’re using today may not be your best at generating sales? In a study conducted by the sales consulting company, Corporate Visions, more than 86% of the companies surveyed said they used sales pitches that were different than what they judged to be the most effective.

So what is a good sales pitch? There are up to nine elements worth including.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM PAUL HEAGEN OF DEFINING MOMENTS ABOUT THE ELEMENTS OF A SALES PITCH.

#1 – WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?  (2:52 in)

In Paul’s words – A solution in search of a market isn’t going anywhere if you have to convince the market to use your product or service. People do respond to what looks like a fix in their life or business.

Insight – By identifying a solution to the problem in your sales pitch you’re helping rather than selling the customer.

#2 WHY DOES THAT PROBLEM MATTER? (4:09 in)

In Paul’s words – Our attention goes to our big ones.

Insight – If you help them realize the importance of fixing the problem, you’ll get their attention and trigger their desire to fix it.

#3 WHY HASN’T THE PROBLEM BEEN ADDRESSED BEFORE NOW? (5:16 in)

In Paul’s words – It sets you up for your differentiator.    

Insight – This question is a set up to introduce your product or service. The customer acknowledges what may have been tried before hasn’t worked or admits the problem has been ignored.

#4 WHAT HAVE YOU FIGURED OUT THAT NO ONE ELSE HAS? (6:13 in)

In Paul’s words – If you come to a discovery, an insight that other people have, there’s tremendous value in that. Let me tell you something we’ve discovered, that invites curiosity.

Insight – For entrepreneur’s in search of capital, knowing your position in the marketplace is necessary.

#5 HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS IS GOING TO WORK? (7:47 in)

In Paul’s words – I need some confidence that what you’ve set up is really going to work. Will the customer or market understand this as a solution.

Insight – If you have to take a great deal of time explaining to your customer how your product or service works, you need to re-think your presentation and simplify.

#6 HOW WILL YOU MAKE MONEY?  (9:31 in)

In Paul’s words – What’s the path to profitability? (for an investor or customer)

Insights– Value can be defined as money or time savings, efficiencies, and multipliers which generate money.

#7 WHY ARE YOU THE BEST AT DOING THIS? (10:38 in)

In Paul’s words – Can you execute on the idea?

Insights – Consider bringing into the pitch other team members responsible for executing the idea that make the customer confident in your ability to deliver.

#8 WHERE ARE YOU NOW? (13:08 in)

In Paul’s words – Sell new stuff to old clients. Sell old stuff to new clients.

Insights – If your pitch is to an investor, you’ll need to be clear on where you are in your development of the business. For old clients it’s a chance to expand your relationship. For new clients you introduce them to something you have delivered previously.

#9 WHAT DO YOU NEED? (15:30 in)

In Paul’s words – In a sales presentation it’s ask for the deal. Here’s what the relationship would look like.

 

 

004 – Referral Selling is a Gold Mine

Referral SellingWhat is the most effective method for selling? Many people swear by word of mouth selling. But like anything that has value, it requires a particular mindset and dedication to the process. Listen to a referral selling expert on why it pays to be more selfless and less selfish.

 

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM BRENNAN SCANLON, OWNER OF ASENTIV REFERRAL INSTITUTE & AN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF (BNI) BUSINESS NETWORKING INTERNATIONAL

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF REFERRAL SELLING?  (5:20 in)

In Brennan’s words –   The quality of the business you receive will be far better and less monetary injected, meaning you didn’t have to pay for that. It came to you through a relationship, not an ad.

Tip – Understand where people find trust – via reviews and recommendations from people they know.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LEADS, TIPS, AND REFERRALS? (8:10 in)

In Brennan’s words – It’s network. I am willing to work for other people in the hope that they work for me. Leads and tips are not work.

Tip – Evaluate the value you derive from leads, tips and referrals to see where you ought to be spending more of your time in selling.

WHAT’S THE MINDSET YOU NEED TO DO REFERRAL SELLING EFFECTIVELY? (9:58 in)

In Brennan’s words – You have to be a selfless person. You have to be willing to invest in relationships.

Tip – Figure out whether your mindset is relational or transactional.

WHAT MISTAKES DO PEOPLE MAKE IN REFERRAL SELLING? (13:30 in)

In Brennan’s words – People forget to look at things from other people’s perspective.

Tip – No one cares about what you do or what you offer until you care about their needs. Think of networking as planting seeds for tomorrow, not for sales today.

HOW SHOULD I RESPOND TO GOOD REFERRALS AND BAD REFERRALS? (16:42 in)

In Brennan’s words – Acknowledge the person who gave you the referral. Give your referring partner some feedback on how it went.

Tip – Guide people as to what is an ideal referral for you.

001-Selling to Reluctant Buyers

reluctant-buyers-a

People will do just about anything to avoid seeing or taking a call from a sales person today. Nevertheless, without sales there is no business. We’ll learn from Bob Rosselot, President of Strategic Advantage Training, an experienced salesperson, manager, and trainer, what works for getting more sales. What’s the psychology of selling today? How should you hire and train people to bring in the business?

HOW DO YOU CAPITALIZE ON LEADS?  (2:58 in)

In Bob’s words –   We break it down into suspects, prospects and clients/customers. You need to identify who are the ideal suspects.

Tip – Look at who are your best customers/clients today. Do some analysis on what makes them good. Is it because of the volume they buy from you. Is it because they pay their bills on time. Is it because they bring you referrals?

WHY DO PEOPLE FAIL AT SELLING? (5:02 in)

In Bob’s words – They fail to prospect, they do a lot of networking but don’t know how to network, and they don’t know how to listen.

IS COLD CALLING DEAD? (5:52 in)

In Bob’s words – Definitely not! It is just not true! You need patience and understanding of the process.

Tip – Sell right and into the right market.

HOW DO YOU TURN A MEETING INTO A SALE? (7:22 in)

In Bob’s words – They’re looking for help, not to be told what to do. Create rapport because they have to like and trust you. Get agreement on what it is you’re going to talk about and what the expected outcomes are going to be. Don’t rush the sale.

Tip – Don’t go in to sell but have a discussion to learn what business problems they are trying to solve and understand how you may be able to help them.

HOW DO I HIRE THE BEST SALES PERSON? (13:33 in)

In Bob’s words – Understand what you are looking for and how to tell if you are getting it. Hiring is a skill and you have to practice it a lot or you won’t be good at it.

Tip – Consider assessments, their goal setting, communication style, drive

WHAT ARE THE WEAKNESSES IN SALES TRAINING? (17:20 in)

In Bob’s words – You go and get the training, but you don’t know how to use it. They tell you what to do but they don’t tell you how to do it.