Avoid mixed messages – check their understanding

One of the easiest traps to fall into – particularly if you supply a technical or complicated product or service is to assume that everyone else knows as much about it as you do. Remember that you talk about your products and services all day every day, and so you’re well versed in what they are. However for some of your customers of course, they may only enter the market every few years, and so their knowledge may be patchy.

One of the modules To Market www.tomarket.co.uk covers on training is mixed messages. This is all about understanding that the message you send is not necessarily the same message they receive. There will be an audio CD on this subject released on this among the next batch, likely to be available during Q1 next year 2009. You will be able to find it by following this link http://www.associatedlearningsystems.co.uk/product_list.asp?Section=TELEPHONE%20COMMUNICATION%20SKILLS as it will be among the telephone communication skills section.

So remember to ask questions of the person you are talking to. This will keep them involved in the communication process and will help you get clear on whether they understand what you are saying. Don’t work on the assumption that they will ask if they don’t understand either, as most people don’t do this. It’s a bit like ‘the Emperor’s new clothes.’ People don’t like to look silly. Rather than ask, they will simply lose interest.

Another tip is to describe things in a colourful way, use other everyday examples of simple things which we can all relate to. These mental pictures often stick with people longer than the actual message ! 

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Customers like to say yes – so change your sales language to fit

The most natural thing is to want to say yes when someone asks you a question. You will often do it instinctively without even thinking about it. We all like to please I think.

I was away staying in a hotel in Warrington (while running a 2 day customer service training), and I was about coming to the end of my meal. I’d had a bottle of beer and couldn’t decide whether to have another one or not. The waitress came by and said “Are you ok for drinks ?” I instinctively said “Yes.” There it was, the word was out and she was gone. I realised that if she’d asked the same question in a different way the outcome would have been different too. She could have said “Can I get you another beer ?” to which I’d have said “Yes !” and an extra sale would have been made. I wonder how many sales opportunities are missed because of this !

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Where do I find new business ?

Ok, so finding new business is a subject we’re asked about a lot at the moment, and there are some practical steps you can take instantly that won’t cost much at all.

First you should make sure you keep the communication channels open with all your clients or customers (even those who are spending less.) You’re in this for the long-term and want to make sure you keep them as things pick-up. It is also really important that you understand how they’re doing, what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.

The next biggest block are those who have spent with you previously, but who are not active trading accounts. I am amazed at how little effort many companies put into ‘lapsed customers.’ They are all winable ! Well maybe not all, but many are ! You know something about them, and what they do – so milk this information to gain maximum advantage.

You may also need to have some internal brainstorming meetings with your team to tap into their ideas. Remember we’re all in this together, and they’ll value the opportunity to help out. You might need to look to promote ‘value’ products, or look for market sectors that are doing well at the moment. You may look to offer free taster sessions if you supply services, or some free ‘added value’ presentations if you sell products.  This may buy you some brownie points for when things pick up.

There are many, many ideas and the companies who will survive are those who adapt fastest and change their behaviour. 

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The importance of prospecting in these testing times

Right now, many organisations are facing varying levels of decline in business. And because of the speed of the downturn and the severity of it, these are times when your business model has to be critically reassessed. Things that you may never have had to do before, will have to be considered.

Good will come of this, as it will make all of us take stock and appreciate the business we do get.

But if there was ever a time to make your business more proactive, this is it !

You will need to make a much larger volume of calls and approaches, and the sales team that you have involved in field selling, or a phone team dealing with incoming enquiries will need to lead this process.

So make sure you have a quality list or database for them to work from. They will also need training (possibly) to help them adapt to a different role, and they need a robust process to operate. So for instance they need to be able to store notes (on a computer) about each person they call, some notes of the conversation, and equally importantly a field to mark the next contact due. This makes intelligent use of the sales database. Remember that knowledge is power !

We have an audio CD on setting up and managing a telephone based team which covers the issues mentioned above on process etc http://www.associatedlearningsystems.co.uk/product_detail.asp?ProdID=2 is the link for this product.

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Marketing advice for tough times !

The business environment is challenging at the moment. We all know that. Customers are harder to find and total spend in many sectors is down.

One of the current pieces of wisdom is to cut down on all your indirect marketing, advertising etc. Indirect marketing covers anything where you don’t get a dialogue with your customer. Instead switch all your activity to direct forms of contact. So this may mean bringing your field based sales team into the office to hit the phones. Or make sure your office based sales team have enough people to call, and then let them loose. By focusing on telephone activity you will get a feel for what is happening in your market, who is thinking of spending, who isn’t and an update on their current situation.

By understanding more about what is happening in your market, the easier it will be to find potential customers and to plot future trends. Now is the time to be talking to all customers, past, lapsed, competitor accounts and anyone else who may have a need for your services, either now or in the future.  

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OK so this is a sales pitch for training CDs telesales & customer service

We’ve all noticed I’m sure that money is in limited supply. So it seems as a result many people have been contacting us recently to buy the training CDs we have available on the topics of customer service, telesales, telemarketing, PR and goal setting.

They are saying things to us like “we want to carry on investing in the team, but we don’t have much budget at the moment.” So they opt for the CDs which are only £17.99 as a way of keeping up with best practice while not breaking the bank. If this is your situation too, we’re keen to support you.

And all the CDs come with a 7 day money back guarantee. So if you buy them via PayPal online and you don’t think they’re useful, we will refund your money. Furthermore if you go ahead and commission any training with To Market to be completed before 31st March 2009, anything you’ve spent on the audio CDs will be refunded ! You can’t say fairer than that !   

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