Losing a customer remains at the top of an organization's nemesis. Gaining a new customer on one hand but watching an existing customer leave you is like pouring fine wine in a glass with no bottom. Depending on the industry you are in, it takes big money and time to win a customer. Do you know what its costing you? Lets face it, keeping a customer is less expensive than finding one. Research by business consultants firm The Brookeside Group and the author of "Great or Poor" Guy Arnold, conclude that companies can boost profits by as much as 85 percent by focusing on why clients stay with you. Customer loyalty can also have the same impact as reducing operating costs by as much as 10 percent. American Express weighs in with their findings. "Consumers are willing to pay an average of 36 per cent more for a decent pub meal if the service, food and atmosphere are of a high standard." Unfortunately many larger organizations still put their bucks into huge sales and marketing initiatives but cut back, to their peril, on customer service analysis and training of employees. When it comes to boosting customer loyalty, bigger companies don't always know better. The good news is that you can dramatically improve your own customer loyalty by understanding the impact your workplace culture has on customer retention. Here we will map out some simple observations to put you on the right course toward employee engagement and customers remaining on board.
My friend, John A, called me about all the new taxes affecting his music company. He was a bit anxious about his ability to continue operating in the black while retaining his talented employees. After some discussion he decided the best thing to do was to reach out to his accountant to get professional advice. John asked, What can I do to reduce my tax burden, I am already at the limit. His accountant's reply? "Well John you're doing everything right and by the book. Seems to me you're just going to have to make more money.", then hung up the phone. Businesses today, across the country, face the very same problems. Regulation, not enough growth capital, health care costs, energy costs, more taxes, complexity of taxes, uncertainty about the economy's future. Sure, if you have the time, the money and the mentality to lobby legislators all day long for relief, more power to you. Frankly I haven't found one business owner, large or small, who enjoys such luxuries. Irrespective of the obstacles being imposed on you by regulation and economic uncertainties, facing these gremlins squarely will help you survive and excel. Here we look at the most pressing obstacles you face and ways to jump over them.
"I have yet to understand the dynamic here. We followed best interview practices and went forward to hire a wonderful team of talented, enthusiastic software developers. We provided them with a flexible work environment and top pay. After 3 months, half of them decided to jump ship and go with a competitor. Finding quality technicians is not so easy. These kinds of experiences dumbfound me and threaten my client base." Not an uncommon storyline for employers today. Of course I could easily pontificate and play sideline pundit. I could tell this employer the reason much of his tech team left him was because he did not adequately engage and motivate them. Maybe so, maybe not. Fact is that incenti-vizing your workforce is not a cut and dry process. There are no magic bullets or cookie cutter solutions or that perfect gift award that will guarantee you loyalty. You can, however strengthen your level of employee loyalty, performance and community by understanding an often overlooked truth. The reasons why talent joins you in the first place? Here are some answers.
I have always emphasized to clients how vital it is to ask good questions during the interview process to determine the quality of your hire. For certain there is much you can learn from a candidate. Will they be right for your organization?
Author, editor and super salesman “Og” Mandino tells his story this way. "December 12, 1923 was my birthday, born Augustine Mandino. The nickname "Og" came via my paternal grandfather. I always loved reading and writing and became my high school paper's editor. My main influence, of all people, was my dear mother who always instilled in me the idea that I would be a great writer. Her inspiration led me to go for my dream of attending the University of Missouri's journalism school. That's when my life took an unexpected, very dark turn. As I was ready to enter college in 1940, my mother died suddenly, right in front of me, from a massive heart attack as she was preparing my lunch. Completely crushed, I literally lost all desire to go on. I managed to find some work in a paper factory until 1942. Then I joined the United States Army Air Corps where I became a military officer and a bombardier. I flew about thirty bombing missions over Germany on board a B-24 Liberator during World War II. My fellow pilot was movie star, James Stewart. After the military the only work I could find was as an insurance salesman. I got married and went on the road. My life consisted of unsuccessful, lonely days and nights, traveling. Most of my time consisted of sitting in bars and drinking more and more. I became such a desperate alcoholic that I couldn't keep my job anymore. My first wife and child left me. At 35, I became a wandering derelict and a hopeless alcoholic. My life consisted as never being more than a few paces ahead of bill collectors. When I finally hit rock bottom, one cold wintry November morning in Cleveland, I was ready to take my life. A local pawn shop had a pistol in the window for sale. I was ready to go in with my last 30 dollars and end it all". How did Og Mandino miraculously turn his life around and become a super successful salesman and author? His bestselling book, The Greatest Salesman in the World continues to be a worldwide top seller. His books have sold over 50 million copies and have been translated into over twenty-five different languages.
Og never did end up going into that pawn shop. Instead he drifted into a local library in Concord, New Hampshire. He began sifting through authors such as Emmett Fox, W. Clement Stone, Napoleon Hill. He took up reading hundreds of books that dealt with success. He credits these authors with rescuing him from total failure. His alcoholism also gradually left him. Og Mandino took the principles, the skills, the attitudes he learned from his great library instructors and tested them in his own life. In a short time he became a super salesman, national speaker, executive editor of a national magazine and author of his own best seller, The Greatest Salesman in the World. This book has been translated into over twenty-five different languages. He took up golf, track and field events and re-married. His loving, new wife Bette turned out to be his greatest supporter. Before his passing in 1996 Og Mandino was inducted into National Speakers Association Hall of Fame.
The Greatest Salesman in the World reveals the very principles Og used to become a success. This book provides the time-tested wisdom of the ancients distilled into ten simple scrolls. Emphasis is placed on the deeper or subconscious mind and our ability to indeed influence it to boost our vigor, enthusiasm, happiness, desire and overcoming fear. Qualities Mandino suggests are vital to lifting us from failure to success. In short, the story of his book takes place during the time of Christ. It is about Hafid, a poor camel boy who achieves a life of abundance. What Hafid learns from the Scrolls becomes his guide to success and his understanding of the philosophy of salesmanship.
Many salespeople owe their success to following the philosophy and principles laid down in Mandino's work. I am one of them. There are laws that govern sales success. I would like to share with you Mandino's 10 Scrolls and my personal commentary on each of them.
Scroll I - Today I begin a new life. In short, yesterday is gone. As sales people we often grapple with the emotional attachment to the past. This attitude negatively affects our ability to command our future. Also difficult for many of us to accept, is that we are miracles and deserve to direct our lives with confidence. The laws of success are not new. It is simply a matter of allowing ourselves to be guided by them.
Scroll II - I will greet this day with love in my heart. Often not an easy task. As many of us already know, what is simple isn't always easy. One idea I learned from my mentor is to find a list of things in my life I am sincerely grateful for. This simple approach has raised my attitude and empowered me to go forward. Bringing a sense of love to my interactions with others creates an atmosphere of friendliness and communication. Great for sales success.
Scroll III - I will persist until I succeed. Being able to maintain action regardless of our feelings is the key. We can learn how to press on even when we feel like quitting. One way is to continue to focus on what inspires us to succeed. Many times working on a worthy goal my motivation will wax and wane like waves hitting the shore. Sometimes I'll feel motivated, sometimes I don’t. An open secret is that my success is tied to persistent action because I continue to accumulate results. Through persistence the results I experience become in itself motivating to go on.
Scroll IV - I am nature's greatest miracle. Perhaps one of the hardest ideas to accept about ourselves. I used to feel uncomfortable to look in the mirror and acknowledge that I am a one of a kind miracle of life. A miracle indeed because, as with no other species, I can choose the thoughts I entertain, choose how I act or react and choose how I live my life. That's power! My discomfort with this truth was based on my early programming which said that this miracle attitude was egotistical. Perhaps I was just one of those subdued ego types pretending to be oh so humble.
Scroll V - I will live this day as if it is my last. If today was my last day how would I choose to live? Maybe looking at how we would we go about doing the things we have to do today if it was our last day to live. Certainly we might bring more intention and intensity to our activities. Throughout history the great sages have affirmed that yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery but today is the gift. Learning more and more how to live in the present. The present is where we make our choices that affect our future. Empower yourself by becoming a student of the present moment. Each day becomes a fresh start and is freeing and powerful.
Scroll VI - Today I will be master of my emotions. Without a doubt a life long seminar. How many of us have been in situations where our emotions get the best of us? Some of us end up paying through physical health problems, relationship conflict, or overall poor decision making. You don't strive to eliminate emotions. Emotional states are essential to our life. Much has been written about cultivating emotional intelligence as a way to succeed in sales. A skill that can be mastered. Harnessing emotions more productively is a skill that can be mastered. Aristotle is quoted as saying: “Anyone can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person at the right time, and for the right purpose and in the right way – that is not within everyone’s power and that is not easy.” Some tips to emotional control can include, feeling your emotions physically. What happens to you? Be aware of your triggers. What pushes your buttons? What people, places, or events tend to trigger distressing emotions? Bring into your lifestyle things that give you peace of mind.
Scroll VII - I will laugh at the world and keep perspective. In other words those situations and circumstance that appear contrary to your success ideal and picture should be looked at with a laugh. As you become master of your emotions you will be amazed at your ability to laugh off the disruptive or disappointing events in your life. Scroll VIII - Today I will multiply my value a hundredfold. Some helpful affirmations from Og Mandino. I will not let my life be ground under rocks of failure and despair to be broken open and devoured by the will of others. Today I will multiply my value a hundredfold. My failures, my despairs, my ignorance and my inabilities are the darkness in which I have been planted in order to ripen. I sprout and blossom only when I am nurtured with rain and sun and warm winds. I too must nurture my body and mind to fulfill my dreams. I will set goals for the day, the week, the month, the year and my life. I must have objectives before my life will crystallize. I may stumble often before reaching my goals. If I stumble I will rise and my falls will not concern me for all men must stumble often to reach the hearth. I will climb today’s mountain to the utmost of my ability yet tomorrow I will climb higher. To surpass the deeds of others is unimportant, to surpass my own deeds is all. I will be as my own prophet and though all may laugh at my utterances they will hear my plans, they will know my dreams, and thus there will be no escape for me until my words become accomplished deeds. I will do the work that a failure will not do. Yet, never will I proclaim my accomplishments. Let the world instead, approach me with praise and may I have the wisdom to receive it in humility.
Scroll IX - I will act now, I will act now, I will act now. Whatever I can begin now, I will begin it!
Scroll X - I will pray for guidance. A profound metaphysical truth. Throughout history, students of success acknowledge the existence of a powerhouse within ourselves, yet greater than our understanding. Prayer can be that silent inner focus that connects us to this powerhouse to obtain guidance.
Tips on becoming a sales champion.
1. Find out what your customer really wants and why they want it. Understand that people buy "things" as a means to an end.
3. Once you have determined the best solution for your customer, link the product to their motivation for buying, and put it in their language.
4. If needing to overcome your customers' objections, use logical explanation, as a means to justify their emotional motivation.
5. Ask for the sale. This is the most overlooked and most forgotten step, probably because a lot of sales people don't have the confidence in their ability to help their customers that they really need to have in order to help their customer.
6. After they give you the yes on the sale, ask them about all the add-ons to up your total ticket, and for their convenience.
7. Follow up. If you really want to be a great salesman. Go the extra mile. Remember, or write down the names and contact info of your customers, and follow up with them to make sure they are 100% happy with their purchase. This is how you turn customers into raving fans.