CLIMB Your Way to Outstanding Sales


A short while back I wrote an article called ‘The eight traits that great salespeople share’.


The post primarily looked at everything in the build up to the sale and why personal qualities make this so effective. But the eagle-eyed readers out there would have noticed that parts of it focus on behaviours that the best salespeople possess throughout the whole sales process. The before, during, and after.


And it’s not uncommon for the AFTER to become the forgotten part of the transaction.


In businesses of all sizes I hear complaints about not getting enough repeat custom. Identifying why this happens often throws up a variety of reasons, but they can typically be simplified into three outcomes:


  • They think they only offer a one-time solution
  • There is a failure to capitalise on repeat business
  • Or their customer service prevents a return


And on that final point, it’s important to emphasise the way we view the role of customer service. Because if you do this right, the first two concerns become irrelevant.


In the part before and during the sale, customer service is seen as proactive engagement. Good, positive behaviour determined to make the sale. But where we come unstuck is after this has gone through. Why do we only assume customer service at this point is reacting to negativity and firefighting potential reputational damage?


If we change our approach, customer service excellence becomes a holistic part of the sales and marketing experience, and can be the single biggest way of overcoming the pitfall of failing to win repeat custom. To do this, I suggest you CLIMB your way to customer service excellence. This is how to do it safely:


C - Customise your approach to engaging prospects

Separate out new customers from existing customers and current products/services from new products/services. Pop them in a matrix and identify your engagement strategy for customers who fit in to each of those groups. How do you create the timeline of engagement to sale for each party?


Across this exercise you are planning all aspects including market research on where your customers are. This means identifying the method of how you engage them. Is it face-to-face, e-mail marketing, cold-calling? Whatever the approach, identifying the customer type and planning the engagement strategy saves time and money in the future.


L – Listen to the problems they are looking to overcome

The very first point I started with in my original article; Listening is key. But don’t just listen to what they say, listen to what they don’t say. Read between the lines and don’t be afraid to ask questions. There’s a difference between the customer saying what they want and knowing what they want.


By taking on all of the information you can gather, you ensure that you have the best understanding of their situation and the issues they are facing. Everyone’s different, but I like the 80:20 principle, listen 80% of the time, talk 20% of the time.


I – Identify a solution and demonstrate how you can deliver it

Once you know what their problem is, you understand what the solution looks like. Don’t jump right in and tell them what you can do, build a picture for them. Repeat the problems they have told you, identify what the solution they want to see is, guide them through how you can get them there.


Doing this shows a progressive journey and helps people understand what is involved. Get them to verify your logic. Through this you build trust and confidence in your ability and show awareness as an expert in this particular area. Jumping straight to an offer of service may panic them. Take your time.


M – Make sure the customer gets what they need and what they asked for

It’s all about perception, for you and those around you. The same comes when offering a solution to your customer. The damage to your relationship will be done by failing to understand what they mean.


Lay down milestones and link these to defined deliverables. Be very clear that you and the client agree on these and how you will work towards them. If the scope of work changes, take the time to make sure the customer is aware of this and how it may affect the end goal and/or delivery date.


B – Bring them back as a return customer

Now go back to your matrix. A new customer becomes an existing customer. Was their experience positive or negative? How do you bring them back? What is the next thing you can help them with? This cycle is continuous and should never stop. The Ansoff Matrix (mentioned in my first point) is a great example of how your customer service should evolve in each new marketing cycle.


As the customer progresses from new to existing, and your products/services diversify, so do your engagement strategies. If you aren’t seeing this happen you need to take the time to think about which part of the process isn’t working, and how are you going to make the necessary changes to bring your customers back time and again.


There can be some pretty hard questions to answer if your business isn’t doing as well as you’d like, but it’s better to know this as soon as possible, rather than it being too late.


More about the author:


Becky Lodge is the Business Founder of Little Kanga Ltd, a company that provides outsourced sales and marketing services for businesses in the UK.


BA (Hons) and CIM qualified, Becky has 25 years’ business development experience at senior level in the UK and is now using that knowledge to help other businesses grow and become more profitable.


In 2017, Becky has designed an event to increase business connections and put SMEs and start-ups in front of large corporate buyers such as Uber and Mountjoy.

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