Lately I’ve been super busy moving my office (which I highly DON’T RECOMMEND during the busy season), traveling (business and pleasure), and keeping up with the business side of things.
What amazed me after this past week is how much of a TIME SUCK Facebook and other social media is! I glanced at some of the normal entrepreneurial boards on the popular social media site just today before boarding my plane and was surprised at how much time this past week I DIDN’T spend on Facebook. I got A LOT done and definitely was more productive without the additional screen time in my life.
One post was about a young business owner lamenting the fact that he normally just quotes his potential customer a price early in the process and then never hears back from them. I can still hear the words echoing in my head of a mentor of mine Mark Ferrell back in his Getting What You’re Worth seminar “DIALOGUE WITH THEM!” and that was pretty much my response to him. The big bad faceless customer who sends you an email and only wants to know price….guess what? They’re a real person too…with all the other things going on in their life, family issues, work, daily life, significant other, possibly kids, stress. Your JOB is to show this person that you can remove the stress from the situation they are contacting you about and let them get on with their life happy for having done business with you.
When you ask them how things are going…what you can do to HELP them…it opens doors.
It allows for free-flowing conversation between two people looking for the common good. After all, that’s all sales is. Helping people find solutions to their problems. They have a problem. They need (insert your service or product offering here). You are being contacted by them because they believe that you may be the solution to their problem. By connecting with them on a one-to-one human level first you are improving your customer service and building loyalty from the start. Loyal customers refer more customers which of course adds to your bottom line.
OK, Mitch…but how do I do that? The first question I always ask a potential client on the phone is “How did you hear about us?” This is crucial for two reasons.
- You need to know where your advertising/marketing budget is successful and where it isn’t. Be sure to track this information in your CRM to determine what is working and what isn’t. I normally run reports every month.
- By finding out where they heard about your company, you may find common ground and something that connects the two of you together. This helps to build the “warm and fuzzy” feeling with them and helps put you on the friend level vs. just some random stranger on the phone trying to sell them something.
The second question that I normally ask during the initial conversation is “What is the biggest challenge you are facing with?”
Now sometimes the answer is obvious with why they called you. I would encourage you to go deeper than just the obvious. By asking this question it helps get to the root of what they are dealing with and how you can help. You get an opportunity to showcase the fact that you are a professional who can give them options and help them with whatever they are struggling with, landing you closer to the sale and the deeper of a connection with your customer.