Archive for January, 2017
Building trust with your customers will make them customers for life
No matter what else you do for your customers, you have to build trust. If you can get your customers to trust you they will stay with you for life…yes, even if you change companies.
Over the years and in many columns, we have talked about what it takes to win customers. We have talked about lead generation and prospecting and cold calling and the sales meeting and that first quote and winning the order but truth be known there is one thing that surpasses everything else. There is only one secret weapon that will guarantee you success with your customers and that thing is building trust; getting your customers to trust you with their needs, their products, their requirements, and their business. Customers need to know they can rely on you as an individual, someone who will always have their best interest at heart.
The question is how to build that trust? How to get your customers to trust you unconditionally. You can talk all you want about how trustworthy you are, you can try to show examples of how trustworthy you have been in the past but there is only one true way to convince your customers that they can trust you and that is to show them with real-life actions, to demonstrate to them through your performance that you are trustworthy. In shor,t to gain your customers’ trust you have to do it the old fashion way, you have to earn it.
Here are seven critical characteristics of a truly trustworthy person:
- Honesty: always tell to truth even when it hurts, even when you have made a mistake and you are going to look bad by admitting it. It doesn’t matter tell the truth and you will earn their respect you in the end.
- Caring: show your customers that you care. Do things for them that are thoughtful and always in their best interest. If they have a problem bring them a solution, even if that solution is not you’re your product or service and goes against what you are selling. Bringing them the right solution at the right time will always create trust.
- Credibility: Let them know that they can always rely and one what you tell them. No matter what. You want them to be able to take anything you say to the bank or in their case their upper management.
- Reliability: Always be there for your customers. Rain or shine, snow or sleet, hurricane or tornado always show up when you say you are going to. Be the most reliable vendor they have, hell, be the most reliable person they know.
- Capability: Educate yourself about their company and its’ needs. Have a great understanding of your customers so that you will be capable of meeting all of their needs. You want to be in complete control at all times. You want to make sure there is nothing left to the imagination when it comes to what your customers’ needs are and what your own company can provide to meet those needs.
- Integrity: This it could be argued is the most important characteristic of all. Conduct yourself with honesty, decency, respect, and integrity, not many people have true integrity and fewer people really know what it is. It is the ability to do the right thing at all times. It is the ability to resist the temptation to do the wrong thing. It is always doing things properly and avoiding short cuts. It means doing the one right thing that every situation demands. Once you have shown your customer that you have integrity you will have her trust for life
- Respect: Yes respect, have respect for everyone you meet. Whether it be the person on the loading dock or the president of the company always show the utmost respect for everyone, especially you meet and that goes for your customer most of all. Do not ever allow anyone in your company to ever speak badly about your customers. Whether it be verbally or in an email, stop any disrespect of your customers dead in its track. Do not tolerate anyone in your company bad-mouthing a customer. It should never be allowed. And by the way, the higher position you hold in a company that more critical it is to show your customers the respect they deserve because if you publicly disrespect a customer you are tacitly giving permission to everyone below you in the company to do the same. Always remember that without customers you do not have a business…not rocket science that.
And one more characteristic, always under-promise and over deliver so there is always one more and that one is Courage. Have the courage to be there during the hard times as well as the good times. If something goes wrong and say your company does not deliver product when it’s need thus messing up your customer’s schedule or worse yet your product gets to your customer on time but is unacceptable, then is the time to show up, it’s the time to stop whatever you are doing and get to that customer’s as quickly as you can to try to help as much as you can. Look, at that point even if all they need is a fresh live butt to kick then you be that butt. There was trouble and you came in like the stand- up person that you are and took whatever they had to dish out in their frustration at that time. Always make sure you show up in the bad times, because in the end they will always remember that you were there. And in the end, they will respect you for showing up and they will trust you like they have never trusted anyone before. It’s all about trust. It’s only common sense.
Book Recommendation – The New Corporate Facts of Life: Rethink your business to transform today’s challenges into tomorrow’s profits
A book recommendation from Dan Beaulieu:
The New Corporate Facts of Life: Rethink your business to transform today’s challenges into tomorrow’s profits
By Diana Rivenburgh
Pages: 244 with Notes and Index
It’s a new day out there
If you are doing the same things that you’ve always done in the same way you have always done them then you are doomed to failure says author Diana Rivenburgh. The world has chances and it is your job to change with it.
In this new and exciting book Rivenburgh lists seven factors that have to be considered in order to run a successful business today and into the 21st century.
They are: disruptive innovation, economic instability, environmental degradation, increasing stakeholder power, societal upheaval, globalization and population shifts. These are the basis on which any successful business strategy and philosophy has to be based today. They have to be not only addresses but taken into serious consideration at all times.
Rivenburgh takes the reader through a series of pertinent topics from creating a compelling vision to mapping your strategic journey to designing a resilient organization to show you how to use the seven factors to these specific business disciplines.
Through carefully chosen and insightful real examples you learn how other very successful companies have gone through the process to emerge on the other side with stronger more resilient companies completely armed to face the future.
This book is not filled with theories mind you but with very real examples that illustrate and prove that these changes in the business nay the global environment are evolving and what we have to do to make sure that our companies both large and small are able to evolve along with them.
This is basically a survival manual for the 21st century written by someone who knows, someone who has spent hours interviewing company leaders taking down their real life company experiences in order to write this book and bass them on to us.
I predict that 20 years from now we will look back on this book in the same way we look back on In Search of Excellence and Megatrends today. You don’t want to miss it.
When was the last time you sat around with your team talking about how you could produce better products and services for your customers? I mean doing things better, making the customers experience extraordinary and putting the “wow” factor in your products.
I would guess never. We are all so busy just trying to meet our customers’ expectations that we spend very little or maybe no time thinking about exceeding those expectations. We are only focused on getting the job done…just getting the job done and over with that we are much more reactive than we are proactive.
Just think how much fun it would be to think up ways to blow your customers’ minds when it comes to your products. Think how great it would be if you thought up ways to make your customers, customers for life.
Think about your own life, think about the times that a company has surprised you to the point of delight; How about the flight attendant who came up to you on the plane to thank you for your loyalty to their airline. That felt pretty good didn’t it? Or how great it is when the host at your favorite restaurant calls you by name and asks if you want your favorite table? Or how about when your car dealer’s service department’s representative advises you on what’s best for your car even if the parts or tires they recommend for your car costs less than the ones you were going to buy? That feels great. That feels like the person is looking out for you right? It feels like that person knows you so well, understand so clearly what your needs are that they are taking responsibility for your welfare. They care so much about you that they are actually your experts when it comes to what you are buying from them.
Now think about how great it would be if actually spent time thinking about our customers, learning their needs and how our products can exceed those needs.
That is what a customer purposed company does. They make it their business to know everything about their customers, they put themselves in their customer’s shoes so deeply that they can sense not only what the customer needs today but what she is going to need tomorrow as well.
Being a customer purposed company means understanding how your products add value to your customers companies’ purposes and goals. As Steve Jobs once said, “It isn’t the consumer’s job to know want they want.” Now it is our job to figure out what they want. Think about it. Why Apple is so successful is that they made it their purpose to know what their customers wanted, what they wanted and what would capture their imaginations and create ultimate customer loyalty.
Look Apple has done it why can’t we? Why can’t we think up ways to delight our customers? Why can’t we come up with processes and technologies that would exceed our customers’ needs? Apple has done it in retail, they had to invent products from scratch, often products that people had never heard of, products that people wondering why do would need them as all…that is until they tried them for a while and then wondered how they could ever have even thought of living without them.
And it should be easier for us in the board industry. We don’t have to invent a product, we don’t have to deal with a retail market. The fact that we are actually building someone else product, that we are in the job shop business should actually make things easier. There is already a product on the print, we just have to figure out how to make it better. We just have to figure out just what it is the customer is going to use our board for and then come up with a more appropriate way of processing it. We just have to concentrate on developing the very best process anyone has ever developed aimed at making the best boards that anyone has ever seen. Oh I know it’s not as simple as all of that, but still…we can try can’t we? And how about the way we deal with our customers? Why are we all quoting the same way? Why are we packing the boards the same way? Why are we all fabricating them the same way? Why aren’t we thinking about better way to do everything?
Look try it, all I ask is that you just give it a try. Set up a team of your smart people, your creative people your best customer oriented people and sit around for one hours each week…just one hour thinking about how you could provide more value to your customers. How you could be a true customer purposed company. I promise you that it will be the most valuable thing you do this week. It’s only common sense
…and what we need to do about it.
I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about why it seems to be so hard to get PCB sales people to focus on any aspect of selling from lead generation to closing a sale. This makes our job as sales consultants particularly daunting since we are in the business of coaching sales people to success. But most of the time we cannot get these PCB sales professionals to take a deep breath and spend some time focused on trying to be …better sales people.
Some time back this magazine offered a unique prospecting tool called Board Buyers which I personally felt was an outstanding way to locate PCB buyers, what technologies they bought enabling the sales person to get in touch with the right people and try to sell them their boards. It didn’t work, not at all. Actually let me back up, it worked for a few very good sales people I know who loved the idea and made it work for them. The rest of the sales people I heard from did nothing but complain about the program. They looked for inaccuracies in the program using lame excuses such as some buyer had moved to another company and thus the program information was inaccurate. But the real reason that these sales people did not like Board Buyers was because the program made them accountable. Their sales manager could actually tell who was using it and how much time they were spending on the program. Man, they hated that.
But before we join in a complete condemnation of PCB sales people we need to pause for a moment and get a better idea of why they hate spending their time prospecting and in lead generation and it is this; by its very nature selling PCB’s has to be a farmers’ business rather than a hunters’ because the salespeople have to have an ongoing relationship with their customers and because of this they live and die by their company’s performance and yes their ability to get that other order, that follow up order depends wholly on how well their company is performing.
The PCB salesperson’s sales success is directly proportional to how well his shop performs. It doesn’t matter if the sales person is the best sales person in the world if her company cannot get a quote out on time or build a Quality board and ship it on schedule no amount of prospecting or lead generation or sales skills are going to make much of a difference. So, that’s why they spend so much of their time working on making sure that their company is performing well rather than being out there selling.
One can argue that they can just ignore their company’s poor performance and get out there and get new customers, but that is hard to do when you know that sooner or later those customers are going to be disappointed as well. In short if we want our sales people to sell the way we want them to, the way they should be selling, then we have to take care of our customers. We must make sure that we are delivering the best products and services on the market today.
Oh, I have heard some of your say in the past, “well if we were perfect we wouldn’t need sales people would just come directly to us and buy directly from us.” With all due respect that is an incredibly dumb thing to say. No if you’re company was performing well and doing everything you are supposed to be doing then the sales person could do his job. If she could count on your company doing everything it was supposed to do like getting quotes out on time and producing Quality PCB’s and delivering them on schedule, then the sales person would have time to be out there selling instead of apologizing, hunting instead of farming. They would be more interested in finding was to win over new customers and not have to worry so much about keeping the ones they already have. Yes, they would be selling like we want them to.
So, that our sales people can be selling instead of apologizing. If they can be out there getting new customers instead of frantically trying to talk their current customers into giving them that next order or worse yet trying to keep them as customers, we must find a way to take care of business. We must focus on providing our customers with the very best service, the very best value that money can buy and then and only then will our sales people be free to sell to their hearts content. Only then will they be free to do the real job we are paying them to do. It’s only common sense
A book recommendation from Dan Beaulieu:
The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership: Classical Wisdom from Modern Leaders
By M.A. Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas
Learning from the world’s greatest thinkers
This is a little book that packs a big wallop. Where else can you get leadership tips from Plato and Aristotle and Antisthenes? This is not the kind of book that you read for entertainment although it is pretty entertaining but rather a book you keep on your desk as a kind of business sampler made up of the most important guidelines for not only business but for life itself. A book you can refer to every so often to remind yourself of what is truly important. Personally I plan to keep it around for just that.
Despite the fancy names of the thought leaders quoted in this book the advice is simple, clear, precise and very down to earth.
From the chapter titled, Character is Destiny for example you get these gems:
Personal values, priorities, and life code determine the quality and substance of life.
Personal and professional relations reflect the character of those involved.
Now that to me spells out what character is really made of. Too often in business we let these things, the important things slip by. We often substitute the rewards of the end game for what really matters.
I chose this section as an example because it illustrates what character means; what character is made up of and the importance of what it is to have good character.
From the same chapter:
What shapes the character of a true leader?
Acknowledgement and respect for the rights of others.
Courage to accept responsibility for one’s own shortcomings.
Deep self-understanding-knowing thyself.
All of the other chapters other guidelines pertinent to being a great leader from “Know Thyself”, to “Always embrace the Truth”, to “Live By a Higher Code”, to Never Understate the Power of Personal Integrity” are based on the teachings of one of the world’s great teachers, thinkers and philosophers.
One final thought for great leadership from the book, “The character of an organization’s leadership determines a company’s destiny.”
I think that about says it all.
If you are serious about being a great leader then take the advice of some of the world’s greatest leaders. Buy this book and keep it around for those times when you’re not really sure where to go next because like a true north compass it will always help you to find your way.
Let’s face it those of us in the board industry have not always treated our reps fairly. We have not supported them, not been honest with them, not trusted them and yes, not paid them – the biggest sin of all.
There seems to be some kind in instinctual adversarial relationship between board shops and their reps. I cannot count the number of calls I get every week from sales managers and presidents and even owners of companies who are not happy with their reps. What I find interesting is that they don’t call me for help on managing their reps, they don’t want to hear my plan for getting more out of their reps and heaven forbid that I try to show they how to treat their reps. No they are not interested in those things at all. What they want are more reps. Yes they seem to think that no matter how much they dislike their reps, the more they are unhappy with their reps everything will be solved if they get more reps. Does that make sense to you? No it doesn’t to me either. It kind of validates that other old adage that: goes
Okay back to the first adage I know most of your out there who are having problems with your reps don’t want to hear this but this is my column and I’m going to tell you anyway so listen up.
Here now for the first time is my adage: It’s all about value. And wait there’s more:
Here are three valuable and unique ways you can provide value to your reps and hence your relationship with your reps:
- Treat them as equal partners. Welcome them to the company and the family. Treat them like family. The best rep/principal relationships I have ever seen are between people who respect one another. Be honest with your reps. Be open. Let them know what is going on at your company. Defend them when your own employees attack them. Treat your reps with respect and not only will the rest of your company treat them with respect but so in return the reps will treat you with respect as well.
- Hold regular meetings with your reps. One on one meetings to go over specific accounts with each of them individually and also all inclusive monthly team meetings as well. The team meetings should be done in a way that the reps consider them valuable. Make sure you bring them up to date on what is going on with the company. Let them know about any new equipment you have bought and what it will mean to your capabilities. Let them know of any key employees you have hired. Let them in on the marketing you are doing. In fact show them the ads you are about to use before they are published. Let them see any newsletters especially those containing special offers that you are publishing. Have your technical people talk to them your capabilities. Have special guests speakers come to your conferences to talk to them about new technologies or advice on how to sell to CM’s or technologies of the future. Make these meetings so valuable that they will want to invite other reps to attend them Educate your reps.
- Offer to help your reps with their own firms. Provide them with marketing for their regions. Provide them with local editions of your newsletters. Offer to come to their territory and put on lunch and learns. Exhibit at trade show sin their region.
And one more – always under promise and over deliver.
4 . Help them to win business. Work with them to develop account strategies from lead generation to prospecting to sales tactics to forecasting to doing whatever it takes to win the accounts. Work side by side with them. Remember investing in your reps is also investing in your own company. If they are successful you are successful.
Of course there are many other things you can do if you think about it. But the single most important take away from this column is to value your reps helping them to become your most valuable asset. If you do this, if you do it with true sincerity and commitment you will only get the very best from your reps, its only common sense.
Whether you’re selling garage door openers or guidance control systems, medical devices, kitchen appliances, laminate, or printed circuit boards, you must know your product. If you want to be a successful rep, you must study the product, understand how it is built, why it is built a certain way, and most importantly, why the product your selling is better than anyone else’s.
There are no two ways about it. When you face that customer across the desk, he is expecting you to be the veritable, “Pro from Dover.” When you are selling high-tech products, you must be able to talk high-tech. It is not acceptable to just set up the sales call, introduce your principal to the customers and let them go at it. You are the sales person, and to sell, you must know what you are selling.
For too long, too many salespeople, both direct and independents, tried to get by with as little knowledge as possible. They tried to wing it with what little knowledge they had assimilated in their years in business. In short, they just did not put in the work needed to be successful.
Think of the experiences you’ve had when buying just about anything, from a vacuum cleaner to a car. Think back to how impressed you were when the salesperson wowed you with her knowledge of her product. After a few minutes, once she’d established her position as an expert, she quickly became a new source of knowledge for you. She told you things about the product that you’d never thought about. She asked you questions, trying to determine your needs so that she could help you select the best model possible. It didn’t take you long to trust this person with all of your product needs. She was now your expert and you were listening to her advice. She not only had the sale that day, but she had you for any future buys of her product.
Now you have to the do same thing. You must know everything you can about your product so you can guide your customers through to the right decision and not only make the sale but make a customer for life.
Here are seven things you can do to become your customers’ product expert. Let’s use printed circuit boards as our example
- Choose the very best line possible. Ask people you know, and ask your customers. Do your homework and find out what company does it better than anyone else and then reach out to them and sell them on letting you sell for them.
- Learn everything you can about your customer. How they run their company and what their secret sauce is. What do they do that is so outstanding that their customers deem them the best?
- Visit and survey the company. Ask for their customer service philosophy. Talk to everyone in the company, at all levels from the management to the customer service people. Make sure they are all singing from the same hymn book.
- Talk to their engineers and learn as much as possible about their technology. Take not only a plant tour but rather get out on the floor and build a board.
- Watch their sales presentation. Talk to their direct salespeople; talk to fellow reps. Learn how they sell. In fact, ask for some sales training; you might know how to sell but you may not know how to sell this company…now is the time to learn.
- Never stop learning. Don’t just learn from this company, but rather read everything you can about their technology—especially premier technology. Be sure to have a complete understanding of their technical capabilities.
- Set up some initials sales calls with your legacy accounts and invite their top engineer to come with you. Once there, shut up, listen and learn. Do a ride-along with their sales manager and watch how she sells.
Now you’re doing what you’re supposed to do; now you’re investing in your craft! And finally, one more in the spirit of under promise and over deliver. Become so knowledgeable about the technology that you can write an article or two about that technology. Make it both a technical and a sales article pitching the company and its technology to a larger marketplace. Talk about being outstanding! No one will ever expect that from a sales rep, so it’s a fantastic way to separate yourself from the rest of the pack.
It’s only common sense.