- Be clear about your target market:
- Who are they? Where do they live/work/play? How old? How many kinds? What kind of house, car, holidays? Etc…
- Who are they? Where do they live/work/play? How old? How many kinds? What kind of house, car, holidays? Etc…
- When do they buy?
- What do they buy?
- Why do they want to buy?
- Where can you find them?
- What are they thinking before they buy?
- What do you want them to think?
- How can you communicate with them?
- Next be clear why this target group would want to buy from you. Get clear about what’s different about you that makes it worthwhile them spending money with you. Write a list of everything that’s neat or cool about you.
- For the first item on the list describe the benefit that the customer//client receives as a result.
- Take your element of neatness and ask yourself “So what? What’s in it for them?”
- Write each element of neatness and each feature as a doublet e.g. “We are passionate about finding structural problems with buildings which means that if a problem exists we will find it and save you money.” Just a bad example to illustrate how to write the doublet…
- Do this for every one of your elements of neatness…
- Is there a pattern, a theme or two? Can you condense the whole lot into a few killer sentences?
- By now you should have some clarity about your USP, the problems you solve and the benefits your customers can expect. Now take the risk out of the purchase. People don’t buy because they are afraid: afraid of being ripped off, afraid of finding better value as soon as they’ve made a decision, fear of not getting what they’ve paid for, fear of looking stupid to their friends/family. How can you take this fear away? One way is to offer a guarantee. A guarantee is a promise backed by a process and with consequences for not delivering. The best guarantees are customer service guarantees because they differentiate you from the competition. You probably aren’t going to offer a product/service guarantee because of professional body or PI constraints so everybody can offer the same. But tangible guarantees around customer service and follow up are valuable in any business.
- Write everything down, craft it, hone it and use your USP and/or guarantee in sales and marketing materials. Build your USP and guarantees into your proposals and quotations.
- Break quotations down into action plans instead of lists of products or services, so they can see how you will get them from where they are today to where they want to be as a result of what you’re doing for them. Follow up after sending a quotation/proposal…
- In sales situations, ask lots of questions – ask don’t tell. They will think you understand their situation better because they’ve had a chance to tell you what they need/want. Write down all the questions you can think of that are relevant. Which are the most important to help them buy
- Handling objections:
- Agree with them that that is a common problem. Use Feel, Felt, Found, e.g. “I know how you feel. Other customers felt the same way. What they found was…”. It normalises the objection.
- Ask if that is the only reason?
- Ask: if you can work out how to overcome that problem would they want to go ahead?
- If yes, then ask if it’s OK to spend some time solving that problem, then engage them in overcoming the objection
- If no then say, “there must be some other reason, do you mind me asking what it is?” Is there anything else, besides? Then deal with them one by one.
- Handling objections:
- Create strategies for repeat business. Think about the ideal customer experience over a 24 month period. If this isn’t natural in your business e.g. people only buy a house every 10 years, then think laterally.How can you keep in touch so they recommend you to their friends and family? It’s been estimated that 82% of people don’t know which estate agent handled their last house purchase if they bought more than two years ago. How can you avoid that level of memory loss in your business? What target market might buy more often? How can you keep in touch with these and find more of them? It’s 6-7 times more profitable to do business with repeat customers than it is to find first time buyers, so get your customers climbing the Loyalty Ladder
- Deliver consistently
- Communicate regularly
- Develop great systems for excellent customer service and train your team
- Develop referral strategies that work
- Develop membership schemes
- Go the extra mile, be proactive and wow your customers.
- Keep innovating your customer service
I’m sure you’ve dealt with a business and come away underwhelmed by the service you’ve received. Maybe you’ve come away disappointed, frustrated or even angry? It happens all the time in restaurants and shops, utility companies, garages, banks, estate agents, solicitors and even government organisations.
The tragedy for those businesses is that they’ve probably spent a lot of time and money finding customers, for all that effort to be thrown away by poor customer service. Research shows that it costs 6-8 times more on average to find a new customer than it does to sell to an existing customer. So every interaction and transaction you make with a customer has to make them want to come back, again and again. If it doesn’t you’re throwing money down the drain.
Great customer service starts at the top. It’s the same for Virgin or for the shop around the corner. For startups the founder is the face of the business for the customer and customer service is often very good because they care. They care about their business, their customers and their reputation. The crunch often comes when the business grows and the owner no longer has the time to meet and take care of every customer. Now the owner has to rely on other people to have the same attitude towards the customer, to say and do the right thing and know what that is without having to ask.
And therein lies the problem. If the owner has been doing what comes naturally to them, they may not be aware of what worked, what didn’t and why. So they find it hard to select people with the same attitude to customer service, train them in the fundamentals and empower them to make the right decisions about what to do.
If you think your business might be missing out on profits because your customers don’t come back as often as they could, then here are four steps to get those profits back:
- Do the basics: treat people in the way they expect to be treated, deliver consistently and make it easy for them to buy
- Identify and cater to your target market: don’t try to please all of the people all of the time – it will drive you insane. Instead, segment your market aim to please them
- Sprinkle on a bit of magic: look out for those moments in which you can make a lasting good impression. How can you over-deliver, even in a small way (but particularly in a consistent way? How can you offer a more pleasant, rewarding or convenient experience than the customer was expecting? And if something goes wrong, how can you go out of your way to fix it? Recently, a client was in the unfortunate position that they thought they would loose a big contract because of a mistake they’d made. But after fixing the problem quickly and going above and beyond to remove any inconvenience caused, they were offered more work not less.
- Institutionalise it: encourage your team to notice when going the extra mile will pay off and empower them to do whatever it takes. Build a mythology around the stories that you create. And create systems that embody customer service excellence.
Any business can start at step 1 and build it up over time, gradually improving their service delivery beyond customer satisfaction.
If you’d like more details on these four steps illustrated with real life examples to inspire you and your team to delivering excellent service get in touch and we’ll email you a short but comprehensive guide.
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Generating new enquiries can be a very expensive undertaking. On the other hand, once you have generated an enquiry, converting it into a sale can be relatively inexpensive. This is one area where we can usually get dramatic results in a business. There are three reasons for this:
1. Most businesses don’t measure their conversion rate (see point 12). As a result, they have no idea how they are doing in this area and tend to overestimate the proportion of enquiries that turn into purchases.
2. I often hear things like “we convert most enquiries into purchases”, but when we actually measure the conversion rate, it is more like 20 or 30%. This is great news! Because it’s relatively easy to dramatically increase 20-30%, even double or triple it. And doubling the conversion rate results in a doubling in sales.
3. Dramatically increasing the conversion rate can often be done without any extra expenditure as you’ll see from the list below, so the additional gross profit from the additional sales effectively goes straight to the bottom line (net profit).
So, in no particular order, here are my top seventeen tactics to convert more leads into customers.
- Have a written guarantee
- Define your uniqueness and explain why your customers benefit from it
- Publish testimonials (even better on video)
- Information Sheets / Booklets / Brochures
- Display Awards / Certificates
- Use payment plans, financing and accept credit cards
- Flowchart your sales process
- Reprint press articles
- Use sales scripts
- Ask questions, listen and provide ideas and advice
- Offer free training on how to get best results from the product/service
- Measure conversion rates and set targets
- Train your entire team in sales/service
- Survey your past customers
- Follow up on enquiries
- Survey people who don’t buy
- Improve store / office, vehicle & team appearance
These are just some of the 83 different ways we have tried and tested to improve sales conversion. Start by measuring your conversion rate and then implement one tactic after another and watch your sales soar.
Having weeded out your worst customers and identified your best customers in Week 2, the next step in this “Double Your Sales” program is to reward them and focus on giving your customers the best experience possible. Now that you’re spending less time dealing with problem customers that create the most hassles for you and your staff, you’ll have more time and resources to spend on your best customers.
Build a Loyalty Ladder to Create “Raving Fans”
Loyal customers are ideal customers. Those loyalists who sometimes refer others to the business are even more valuable because they are active advocates. But the most prized clients and customers of all are those who become so energized about the level of service they receive that they cannot stop telling others about it. These “raving fans” are a golden asset and a tremendous source of new customers. If a business makes a concerted effort to identify loyal customers and then offer them such a high level of service that they become cheerleaders for the business, the investment pays off many times over by expanding the customer base with premium customers acquired via raving fans.
For a company to rise to this level of appeal requires an intentional effort to personalize each transaction and aspect of the customer service relationship. Rather than offering a preferred customer a standard discount coupon, for instance, a business owner might instead offer them tickets to a golf tournament or symphony, deliver flowers or a gift basket to them, or pamper them in other special and memorable ways. The investment in service should be calculated based on the value of the business that the raving fan brings to the company. Customer service is thus elevated to become an incentive and rewards program tailored to the individual client. When others who are advocates witness this kind of VIP treatment they will likewise become inspired to rave about the business in order to enjoy the exclusive benefits of this preferred customer relationship.
Create a Referral Program
Design a referral program that rewards customers for bringing others into the customer base. Referral rewards can be in the form of discounts, gifts, invitations to special events, or “closed door” sales events where only certain customers are invited to participate and take advantage of savings, exclusive products, or other preferred customer perks.
A referral program can borrow ideas and schemes from the raving fan concept, but will be executed in a simpler and more general fashion. Many customers have friends, coworkers, and family members who require the same products and services, so referral is a natural process of growing the customer base by using existing customers as a resource for community outreach.
Train and Support Employees to Improve their Skills
Valued employees are ones that business owners invest in to help them further their careers and skills by developing a sense of ownership and responsibility that can boost a business’ customer base dramatically. Employees come in contact with people every day, both inside the place of business and elsewhere. Someone might be a potential customer because they walk through the door, but it may take a certain level of professional skills to convert them into paying customers. Or an employee might attend a church or school where there are dozens of potential customers. By helping that employee learn the skills needed to promote the business to those contacts, it is possible to capture new customers. But employees need attention, guidance, training, education, and incentives.
They might profit from attending sales or marketing workshops, for instance. Wine reps for major wineries often travel to Europe to learn more about wines – at the company’s expense. Hair salons send stylists to conventions to learn new tricks of the trade. Construction companies send carpenters and electricians to night school to get advanced certifications. But these investments all pay off when those employees return and land lucrative new accounts, do a better job, or are able to charge customers a higher rate for more specialized service. Invest in those who are within the business, and the investment will pay off by bringing new customers from outside the business.
Improve the Conversion Rate for Leads and Contacts
Keeping tabs on leads or sending contacts costly mailings can be a drain, not an asset. As leads and contacts are made, they need to be converted as soon as possible into customers. Otherwise they can simply become a nuisance and a labor-intensive list of names. Once someone becomes a lukewarm lead, it is important to warm them up so that they become a hot prospect and then a loyal customer. When someone walks into a party and doesn’t know anyone, they are inclined to turn around and leave. But a good host or hostess knows how to spot them, introduce them, show them around, and help them enjoy themselves. The same holds true for businesses that are converting strangers into loyal customers.
Conversion requires getting to know the person, understanding their wants and needs, and then fulfilling those in a way that is mutually beneficial by helping the customer while giving profit to the enterprise. There are many conversion strategies and techniques, and these can be systemized so that once a new contact enters the leads database, they are automatically cultivated and nurtured to become a paying client. If the current conversion rate is 20 percent for every 100 contacts or leads, that translates into 20 new customers a month. Boost conversions to 30 percent and that represents a 50 percent increase. Convert 40 percent instead of 20 percent and the customer base has effectively doubled without doing any extra marketing or advertising.