Everyone’s got a short list of ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s for their business segment; and here are mine. I don’t ordinarily make guarantees; but if your business involves fielding questions from customers, and you sincerely want both to make a good impression and to make money, I’ll challenge you: if you’re not already following a policy that includes these simple guidelines in some form, do so, and you’ll get what you want out of what you do.
RULE #1 (most important): Know Your Business
|photo c/o BMR Insurance Agency
I always say that when you receive a question from a customer, in person or on the phone, he’d better not hear ‘Um’ as your first word. Getting information is the customer’s first step in deciding what and from whom to buy - and your first step should be to provide him with that information eagerly and authoritatively. Equivocation or hesitation on your part is his first indication that maybe he’s asked the wrong vendor; so avoid that!
If you’re a service provider, know what it is that you (or your staff) do, know as much as you can about the actual doing of the work, be able to answer pointed questions about what gets taken apart during which procedure and how it’s all improved after the work’s been done. Know the prices of major jobs - don’t just answer, ‘Well; it’s time and material.’ Know which materials will be needed. Know the standard time brackets for the completion of each part of a job. Know the next few available times when your people can do the work. If any person facing the customer or answering the phone doesn’t know this, he must offer to get an answer ASAP and must return to the customer with an intelligent quote.
If you’re a materials reseller, know what you do sell, have on hand, and what you can and can’t get. Know what each item is good for, its salient qualities, how it’s installed or used, how it compares to other products from other places, what to watch out for and reasons why it is simply superb. Don’t rely on a sales pitch - give them the true facts. Good products sell on their own merits - your job is to explain those merits. (If your products aren’t good, why are you selling them?) You might not have it all memorized; but be able to ‘go into the back’ and inform the customer of his real-world price and, if you don’t have it in stock, the standard lead time and usual shipping costs. Offer to get a precise answer ASAP and return to the customer with an intelligent quote.
In general, customers value vendors who provide them with information they can rely upon. They want to be reassured they’ve chosen the right seller who will get them the right product or service without worrying them about whether or not they’ve chosen well. I have a reputation for never having customers walk out the door worried that they may not have received the right thing or the best deal; and (maybe because of being a former classroom teacher) I think educating them is the best way to relieve both the customers and myself of such worries.
I can assist you through product training and policy implementation to help strengthen what makes your business unique. Get in touch; and we'll see what we can do to develop sound strategies to improve your performance and market share.