Sales techniques are about building relationships.
Every interaction your customer, clients, members, patients (whomever it is that your business exists to serve) have with you is a chance for your organization to add to the yes or no column in their mind. From how they find you to the first sales, from the delivery and service to the results they got with the product, everything is a yes or no.
Will they buy from you again? No? But you worked so hard to get them to!
If you think about how important every employees actions are, it's a little daunting to then start to make sure that every interaction is in the yes column and that your business is not giving people a reason to check off something in the no column. Understand that if you start your business growth strategy with the buyer's experience and best interest in mind, then you will naturally start to find places where there is a no in the column. The question isn't whether or not it happens, it's what will you do about it?
Whether you are hiring your first employee, or hoping to help improve the performance of existing ones, the techniques that sales people use to build relationships are the same ones that employees need to use with each other for the benefit of the buyer.
Buyer Experience- Remorse (No) or Retention (Yes)?
Buyer's remorse will keep your business growth stuck in the mud. Here is a recent example: During the Boston celebration at Fenway after winning the 2013 World Series (Whoo!), the Duck truck that carried the Drop Kick Murphy's got overloaded and tore up the Fenway field. Do you think that they will get hired by Fenway officials again? If things like a need for approval make your employees over promise (sure- we can fit more in!) but under-deliver (we didn't consider the damage to the expensive baseball field), that is one more check mark in the no column of continuing (or even starting) to do business with you again.
Buyer retention has everything to do with culture. Have you ever watched the show Undercover Boss? Why do they do that? Why do CEOs who are looking to make an improvement or take their business to the next level go undercover in their organizations? Why is it so important to observe how their employees treat both each other and their customers? They know it is necessary for growth. Because how an employee is treated at work, whether it is by a loud and aggressive coworker who is too emotionally involved or a payroll issue with their commission check- these things will eventually effect the experience someone has with their business. Good employees go away, your buyers are left with the bad ones who don't do as much for them or treat them as well. They won't uncover additional needs or better way to service them. If there is a question that both your buyers and your employees are both asking it's whether or not they can trust the other person to do what they said they would (and then some?)
The buyer experience with your business is the key to your growth. Ok, last example. My mom runs a cafe for one of the state's largest manufacturing plants in Maine. She, like me (who do you think I worked for all during high school?), has done every job in a restaurant, from front end waitressing to production in the kitchen, to back end with the inventory and bookkeeping. In a small 20x20 commercial kitchen, she cooks enough fresh meals to feed up to 1500 people in 90 minutes, plus stocks a fresh salad and soup bar and a full menu grill for custom orders. Oh, and makes sandwiches for the vending machines for the night shift and does executive catering as needed. She has daily metrics for sales and operations costs, surveys customers regularly, and during the rush hour, you will see her watching to be sure there are no lines too long, soup too cold, or dirty tables. She, and the staff, know people by name and even remember how they prefer their grilled cheese. Her key to sales is the word of mouth throughout the plant of 3-4,000 people. Employees value the cafeteria so much, it has become a part of the company culture.
So what do you think she did when one employee bickered over a .15 cent cracker to a regular?
Critical Business Growth Questions to Ask at Year End
- Is retention driving your business growth?
- Are you having to replace customers faster than you can bring them in?
- Does your sales, marketing, and service efforts align together for the benefit of the buyer?
- Are your employees continously selling your customers?
- Are they going about it in the best way possible?
- Are there important skills that haven’t yet been developed or mastered?
- Are there weaknesses preventing them from being as effective as they could be?
Getting the objectivity you need to assess your business and employees isn't something you can do alone. We are the worst judges of ourselves. And while you may not be able to go undercover in your company like they do on TV, you can evaluate how sales people, account managers, and service representatives are going to perform in the way of new account/customer development.