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Your six best friends in the sales process

Here’s an important question: When your customers call in with a problem, who handles that?

Actually, let’s expand that to:
•    Who
•    What
•    Why
•    When
•    Where
•    How

Take an inquisitive perspective for a moment,  and you can begin to see what your sales and customer service functions look and feel like from the point of view of the client. This is a very valuable exercise because it can yield action items that will improve your sales process.

First let’s look at “who,” beginning with who is your customer.
•    Who is their main point of contact, who do they go to when they have to solve a problem?
•    Who do they deal with if you’re not available?
•    Who the most important person for them to be dealing with on a regular basis, who is inside of your organization

OK, let’s consider the “when”:
•    When do you get all those people involved in the sale — at the beginning?
•    When do customer’s issues get addressed?
•    When do the phones get answered?
•    When do calls get returned? When do emails get returned?
•    When can they expect a proposal?
•    When can they expect feedback?
•    When can they expect follow through?

Next, let’s think about the “what”:
•    What is the most important thing to our customer?
•    What do they experience today?
•    What do we want them to experience?
•    What do they want to experience?
•    What are the components that create an experience with your company?
•    What’s the best way to start working on those, and what’s the most important to start working on today?

•    Where do the customers go to when they have an issue?
•    Where are your biggest areas of concern in the delivery of your product or service?
•    Where in your presentation? Can you address those in advance so that they do not become objections when it comes time to close the deal, if you will? Or open the contract, if I will?
•    Where are my strengths? How do I communicate those?
•    Where are my weaknesses, and how do I communicate those?
•    Where are the true opportunities for us to grow their business?

•    Why would they do business with me as a sales professional?
•    Why would they do business with me over their current provider?
•    Why will they continue to do business with us?

•    How can I give them a moment of magic at every interaction with our company?
•    How can I explain in advance where the challenges may lie?
•    How do we deliver on and exceed expectations on a regular basis rather than on an irregular basis?
•    How can I set the customer’s expectations up front to let them know that we’re not perfect, but we’re absolutely the best to make an impact on their business or their lives?

As you think about managing expectations, it’s critical to come at these questions from the customers’ perspective. Then you need to create your team internally to deliver on these things.

And this is an internal sales mission. You need to go to everybody in your organization. You need to sell internally why it’s so critical to deliver on these things, why job security is created only when we have customer loyalty. The customer truly does represent the paycheck for everyone in your organization.
How can we make sure that not only as salespeople do we manage the expectation up front, but how can we make sure that the inside team delivers on it?

You need to go into that meeting and create your inside team with open ears and open eyes, saying “I don’t have all of the answers, I’m looking to get the answers.”

So you go to your support team with some questions:
•    What are the biggest issues our customers call with?
•    What are the biggest challenges our customers have?
•    What are customers saying about me?
•    What are customers saying about our sales process?
•    How are customers’ needs being met?
•    How are customers’ needs not being met?
•    When our last five customers left, why did they do so?
•    How can we do it different? How can we do it better?
•    How do you respond according to all of these questions above?
•    How can I do a better job to make you do a better job in your need?

These are things that we need to ask when creating an inside team. The inside team drives the customer’s experience. Again, to recap, you set the customer’s expectations. You put the ball on the tee and every interaction with your team, you have the ability to knock the ball out of the park or to swing and miss.
Communication is going to be the biggest thing, communication on the front end to the customer and throughout the process with your team.

One final tip, once you’ve created that team, have a 15-minute huddle at least once a week, in person or on the phone, and ask them:
•    What happened this last week?
•    How can we do better?
•    Where are the problems?
•    Where did we win?
•    Where did we lose?
•    What’s coming up this week?
•    What do we anticipate?
•    What’s on the horizon?
•    What’s the buzz?

Having the weekly huddle enables you to make sure communication is up, and the customer’s expectations can be met.

Manage your customer’s expectations on the front end stronger so that you keep them forever, rather than telling them what they want to hear today so you can make one sale today.

Photo: the Italian Voice, via Creative Commons 2.0