If you are involved in sales, and who isn’t, you know the terms, techniques and tips for attracting potential customers, creating the desire to buy, gaining trust, closing the deal and maintaining relationship.
Each step in the process is critical to the desired outcome: productive and profitable customer relationships.
Acquiring a new customer costs more than five times as much as keeping an existing customer. Research validates the data, but good old common sense tells you this is true.
While you or your manager is spending time teaching salesmanship, one topic frequently overlooked is business etiquette, an array of skills that can set you and your product or services apart from your competition.
I refer to business etiquette as your “secret sales weapon” because it is not included in most sales training and because it can be the one element that distinguishes you from your competition.
A number of ways to use your secret weapon are:
1. Begin before you leave home. Start your day by dressing for the activities on your calendar. If they range from business casual to business professional, you need a change of clothing along the way. It is always easier to take off rather than add on. For both men and women, wearing a jacket takes business dress up a notch. Removing it allows you to blend in to a relaxed environment. Dress in a professional manner that meets your customers’ expectations.
2. Prepare for the inevitable first impression. Each day is filled with first impressions that will last forever in the memory of those you meet. There is never a day that you can let down your guard regarding your attire, your grooming or your attitude. You have no idea whom you will meet, where and when. Don’t spoil an opportunity.
3. Practice listening skills. Successful sales people are adept at conversation. They love to talk. Many forget that being a good conversationalist means being a good listener as well. Paying attention to what your customers have to say allows you to understand their needs and gives you the advantage for closing the sale and continuing the relationship.
4. Learn how your customers prefer to communicate. The best way to do this is to ask, “How do you want me to contact you?” Some like e-mail; others opt for the phone; and a surprising number of people favor good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. What works for you may turn off your customer.
5. Follow up. After your arranged meeting or chance encounter, reconnect with your customer. Your responsiveness will not only help seal the deal, but insure a continuing relationship. A short phone call or brief e-mail is an immediate affirmation of your agreement. The handwritten thank you note that you send afterwards requires little time, but takes the relationship to a different level.
6. Offer service after the sale. Check to see if your customer is happy with your product or service. If there is the slightest hint of dissatisfaction, handle it immediately without excuse. Letting customers know that their satisfaction is your highest priority will have them coming back again and again. Not only that, a contented customer will spread the word almost as fast as the unhappy customer.
Using business etiquette skills as your secret sales weapon won’t cost you a dime. Your only expenditure is the time it will take to listen and learn about your customers, to honor their preferences and to follow up with courtesy and respect.
Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.
Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions. Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.
Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.