As a leader of your small- to medium-sized business, how much do you know about your customers? How much do you know about why they buy from your company? About what they really think of your products and services. And about how your Sales Rep serves them? The simple truth is that the answer to these and other critical questions are close at hand – if you occasionally venture outside your comfort zone.
Here’s how you can learn more in a single day focusing on what really matters – your customers – than you can in a month or more entangled in your normal routine:
Begin with a Question
All great answers begin with great questions. Here’s one:
What do you truly know about your customers and how they view your company and your products or services?
Notice that I used the word “know” and not words like “feel” or “believe”. We’re not talking about gut instinct here; we’re talking about actual knowledge, firsthand knowledge, the kind of knowledge that is not filtered through the lens of anyone else’s opinions or assertions or spin. Nor are we talking about data. Number crunching has its place, but it, too, can be parsed and interpreted and skewed in many ways to support a pre-conceived position or belief.
So, how can you discover what you need to know in order to make necessary changes to boost sales and take your company to a higher level of performance and customer satisfaction?
As the owner or leader of a small or medium-sized business, if you want to take your venture forward, you must venture forth out of your comfort zone. You must get out of your comfy office and into the real world, the so-called “trenches”. You must connect in person, face to face, with your company’s customers. And you must do this often enough that you can personally meet and engage with each customer on a reasonable schedule for you and for them.
When you meet with your customers, go with your salesperson. Have the salesperson set up a normal sales call, but also have them inform the customer that you will be along for the ride. During the meeting, observe your salesperson in action. Resist the temptation to jump in and sell; instead, simply watch both the salesperson and the customer. Look for visual cues that can indicate how your customer is responding to the points being made. By observing this relationship in action, you can gain the clues necessary to put the rest of your discoveries in context. Remember: Up till now you’ve learned about this customer through the salesperson. That is a sample size of one; hardly enough to gain essential and actionable insights to improve sales and customer service.
Ask and Listen
At an appropriate time during the meeting, if you have not really learned what is important to your customer – about what they want and need but are not currently getting from your company – ask. Just ask. If the customer feels uncomfortable answering plainly and bluntly, simply say, “It’s okay to be frank. I really want to know.”
Then listen. Don’t interrupt, don’t explain, don’t defend. Just listen. If it becomes apparent that the customer is uncomfortable speaking with the salesperson present (perhaps indicating that there is a problem with the salesperson), offer to continue the conversation later by phone or in another face-to-face meeting.
Many business owners commission focus group studies to get key information about their products or services. However, you can consider the client meeting as a focus group of one. By focusing your questions and concern to their singular situation, you not only gain vital information about how to serve them better (and perhaps open new market opportunities), but you also deliver the message that you truly care about their perspective and their business.
Chances are that you will learn things about what the client needs and how your company can adapt or adjust what you offer in order to meet those needs. When this process of observing, asking, listening and learning is repeated over many customer meetings, you might learn that what you are selling is not really why your customers buy from you. In other words, your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) doesn’t line up with the UVP (Unique Value Proposition) in the minds of your customers. While it is great that they buy from you, if you continue to market the wrong attributes of your solutions, you miss key opportunities across your market landscape.
At Sales Xceleration, we know that periodic firsthand communication with the client can be vital to success. This direct interaction can help you understand where to go with your sales and marketing, what products or services are truly valued by your customers, and how to fix any problems that exist between your Sales Reps and your customers. Of course, if you just can’t seem to find the time to do this on your own, a licensed Sales Xceleration Advisor can do this for you, acting as your Outsourced VPs of Sales.
To learn more about this important service and other proven systems from Sales Xceleration, contact us today at 844.874.7253.
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