Customer Service

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By Steve Schmidt, Partner

“If you want to interact effectively with me, to influence me, you first need to understand me.” – Steven Covey

A powerful statement. Simple and eloquent, profound and meaningful.

Taken a step further, we might add that you also need to understand yourself. After all, you can’t really communicate effectively with someone else without first recognizing how you prefer to communicate—and how you may be perceived by that person as a result.

But once you have the foundation, the bigger leap—one that only a few truly master—is to understand and adapt to the person you’re communicating with. That’s where your biggest opportunity lies.

As most of us are keenly (and perhaps, at times, painfully) aware in our relationships outside of work, people view the world through different lenses. This, in turn, affects how they communicate and like to be communicated with. We do our best to work through the communication challenges because, as much as technology has infiltrated everything our daily lives, we still strive for those personal connections.

The same applies in the workplace. New technologies and fads come and go, but being able to understand what your customers value most and then being able to effectively communicate with them from that vantage point is often what differentiates you and your organization from your competition. It’s also what forms the basis of strong, sustainable customer relationships.

A Corporate Executive Board study found that 53% of customer loyalty is driven by the sales experience. This supports the notion that perceptions are reality. So an important question for you to think about is this: How are you perceived by those you’re communicating with? Your ability to connect with people certainly weighs on that perception.

And the next question is, are you doing everything you can to build deeper, trust-based relationships?

The Behavior Styles Connection

You probably have some familiarity with the concept of Behavior Styles. It’s literally been around forever. Even Socrates grasped the value of understanding different behavioral approaches as he helped shape Western philosophy and evolved his Socratic method. The Behavior Styles Assessment, which reveals your personal Behavior Style and helps you understand the Behavior Styles of colleagues and customers, gives you a way to create personal chemistry and build rapport with diverse people—fundamental skills in sales, management, personal relationships and everyday life.

Let’s take a closer look at how Behavior Styles can help you strengthen customer relationships and improve your sales effectiveness.

In his classic book The Loyalty Effect, Frederick F. Reichheld says that the best way to move from transactional, rational dialogue to a more meaningful exchange is to focus on creating an emotional bond. When you communicate in such a way that your clients and co-workers feel valued, the outcomes of your conversations will yield better returns.

Easier said than done? Well, with the right level of awareness and commitment, anyone can master the ability to sell, serve and coach others by understanding and adapting to different Behavior Styles. The information you learn about their Behavior Styles can help you shortcut the process of connecting with them in a more personal and meaningful way.

A rule of thumb is to follow the three A’s:

  • Awareness of your personal communication preferences and how you may be perceived by others
  • Alignment of your communication strategy to another’s, once you determine their primary Behavior Style
  • Action, including successfully adapting on the fly as you communicate with others

The Compound Effect of Loyalty

Why should you bother? Ultimately, your ability to communicate effectively with clients and prospects—to move from transactional to emotional conversations—is what can move them from neutral to satisfied to loyal. And once you reach a true “partner” status, that loyalty will compound itself. Your loyal, fully engaged clients are not only willing to spend significantly more wallet share, they’re also the ones who will go to bat for you, becoming your best sources of referrals and new business.

No matter how much technology evolves, sales is a business of relationships. Having meaningful conversations that engage people in a way that they value is always going to be one of your most powerful selling tools. And that means you have to understand their Behavior Style so that you can focus in on what they care about most.

How many of your customers are fully engaged? How might more effective, engaging communication (as defined by the customer) help you achieve both your goals and theirs?

If you’re a leader seeking that competitive advantage, ask yourself this: What am I doing to equip my team to maximize every interaction?

 

Re-blogged from Integrity Solutions

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Sales training

Originally contributed as a guest blog on SellingPower.com

By Mike Esterday

If you’re like most sales leaders, you’re constantly hunting for the “secret sauce” of sales success. You’re convinced that, once found, that secret sauce will put your organization over the top – and into the rarefied group of consistently top-performing companies.

Look no further. Chances are good that you already have all the ingredients you need. You’ve just added them to the sauce in the wrong proportions.

We recently conducted a research study in partnership with the Sales Management Association to find out what top-performing companies focus on that’s different from the others. The answers were revealing and, in some cases, surprising.

We surveyed leaders at more than 200 sales organizations. We asked them to rate how a salesperson’s achievement drive – that is, their attitudes, beliefs, and passions – affects their performance. Likewise, we asked the same of them about how a salesperson’s product knowledge and selling skills affect performance.

Here’s what may surprise you: More than 80 percent of the respondents rated achievement drive as being of equal or greater value than product knowledge and selling skills in terms of positively impacting sales performance. However, only a quarter of the respondents said they were very effective in delivering sales training that focuses around achievement drive.

That is a tremendous gap between importance and effectiveness on what is potentially the most important driver of sales success.

Here’s the kicker: Those who said they were effective at focusing sales training on achievement drive reported 20 percent stronger results than everyone else.

What about you? Does your sales training emphasize achievement drive and ignite motivation?

What’s Causing the Gap?

If so many executives recognize the value of achievement drive, then why don’t more companies address it in training?

Well, ostensibly, it’s just plain easier to provide salespeople with product information and techniques on what to say and when – and then manage numbers and activities.

But relative ease is only part of the story. In fact, there are plenty of ways leaders rationalize focusing on skill and product training – even when they agree that attitudes and achievement drive play a bigger role in performance.

Based on our study, here are the top four reasons sales leaders ignore attitude and achievement drive in sales training:

  1. Skills and product training are just easier to deliver and measure.
  2. We expect people to have this already when they’re hired.
  3. The subject matter is too personal for corporate training or coaching.
  4. We’ve never done this type of development in our organization.

This isn’t to say that training on product knowledge and selling skills isn’t important. But it will only take your team (and your organization) so far.

When training goes beyond product knowledge and techniques – when it gets to the motivating attitudes that increase achievement drive – that’s where your competitive edge lies.

Top Performers Focus on These Three Critical Conversations

So, what advice can we take away from the lessons of the top-performing companies in our study?

We learned there are three critical conversations every salesperson must focus on for the organization to consistently realize its growth goals:

  1. The conversation I have with my customers – How will I interact in ways that are seen as valuable by customers? This is where training around selling skills/methodology, account strategy, and product knowledge falls.
  2. The conversation I have with myself – Those moments of reflection, inner belief, and personal values are sometimes seen as “intangibles,” but the impact on performance is quite real. This is where training focused around achievement drive comes into play.
  3. The conversation I have with my coach – One of the key determining factors for growth is coaching. However, when and if sales coaching actually happens, it’s nearly always focused on how to improve the first conversation – a salesperson’s ability to interact effectively with the customer. It rarely addresses the other critical conversation, the one that salespeople are having all the time – with themselves.

This holistic approach to development requires ongoing commitment from the top and alignment throughout the organization. But, as our research shows, it can be the turbocharger for your success.

When you think about it, it’s not all that surprising. After all, who among us hasn’t felt the undeniable power of self-belief and self-drive? And who wouldn’t want to work for a company that is committed to developing people in a way that unleashes their inner drive and potential? And, just as important, who wouldn’t want to do business with a company that values each salesperson as a whole person – not just a selling machine?

Take a closer look at your sales training approach. Are you missing any of the key conversations that could be the “secret sauce” of your sales success?

 

Re-blogged from Integrity Solutions.

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Johnny Walker, president and CEO of JohnnyWalker.co, is an Integrity Solutions business partner and expert at building_MG_4928 great service teams. We caught up with him recently in a recent podcast to hear his thoughts on how training can bridge the divide between sales and customer service.

The relationship between sales and customer service is critical, but these two divisions are typically trained separately, with different emphases and objectives. While most companies stress the importance in sales training of having a customer-centric focus, they often overlook many of those concepts when training the customer service team.

That lack of a consistent approach and mindset for interacting with customers can cost companies revenue, customer loyalty and even great salespeople who get fed up when the relationships they’ve spent months developing are destroyed in an instant by a fumbled customer service issue.

Hiring Great People Isn’t Enough

Building a great customer service team requires more than hiring great people who naturally enjoy helping others. As Johnny explains in the podcast, we also need to equip those great people with the soft skills like emotional intelligence so they can interact effectively with the customer. The customer has to feel that the person on the other end of the call is laser focused on understanding their needs and solving their problems. They must truly believe that they are the most important person the customer service rep has talked to all day.

And that’s why one of the most common customer service tools around is also one of the worst things we can do in customer service training: hand people a script. We all know when someone’s reading a script, especially when you’ve talked to several customer service reps from the same organization and they’re all saying the exact same thing.

As Johnny puts it, we need to focus our training efforts less on what to say and more on how to interact. We can do that by giving people a process that allows them to be authentic and build genuine relationships rather than a script that takes their personality out of the equation.

Listen to the podcast to hear more from Johnny as he discusses:

  • The connection between sales and customer service
  • Pitfalls of typical customer service training approaches
  • A values-based, concrete process that helps customer service reps relate and empathize with customers, even when they’re having a bad day

Re- Blogged from Integrity Solutions 

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