Tag Archives: sales

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commodity services

Commodity Services And The Race To The Bottom

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Everyone wants a good price. In fact, everyone wants the best price. It is seldom that someone wants to spend more than their neighbor or competition for a similar product or service. Have you ever felt like commodity services are really a race to the bottom?

Price Strategy

Many selling efforts consider the basic economics of price. Sell more at a lower price and we’ll get more money. Sometimes this may make sense.

Selling services has some differences when compared with selling raw materials or products. The value of the product is in the spec. Anything meeting spec may only come down to one thing, price.

Services have some differences. Businesses that treat services like raw materials or products, pushing vendors for the lowest price as compared to spec, may get less than they expected.

Race to the Bottom

When you are selling a service that is based purely on spec you may be selling commodity services. Yet your value will be judged on the expected quality.

It will need to meet spec which includes quality, but the quality of a service subjective.

This is even true for most jobs. When you negotiate a salary, it typically starts with spec. Ultimately though you will not only be evaluated compared with spec but your performance will be compared with price.

One of the challenges for the service provider is to apply enough margin to consistently exceed expectations.

While everyone is racing to the lowest price and trying to sell more, the intuitive path seems to include cutting operating costs to keep margins. Service quality often declines. Promises are broken.

Commodity Services

One trouble spot with services is that they often aren’t remembered for price. They are remembered for the feeling after the service.

The best lawyers, surgeons, and accountants may have to meet spec, but spec isn’t that relative to price. The service promise and the resulting expectations have more relevance.

If you were in trouble legally, would you hire the cheapest attorney? The spec may be, have the credentials to practice law. The promise is to keep you out of jail.

Here is a promise. The cheapest service may meet spec, but it will often be remembered as an inferior product.

A race to the bottom.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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AI Change

Will AI Change The Customer Journey

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Is AI (artificial intelligence) going to change the customer journey? AI change is happening now. Nearly everything is being influenced and driven by data. Data means automation, and automation means AI.

It has been happening for years. In the past decade it has been accelerating. Are you moving towards AI? Probably, whether you recognize it or not.

Front runners in AI will change the definition and behaviors of the customer journey. Businesses who have not adapted will appear to be offering an inferior experience.

Data Driven

We once went to the bank on Friday to cash a paycheck. Then direct deposit became popular, first as an option, eventually as the norm. People are also using less cash and doing more debit or credit card purchases.

This isn’t news, but what does it mean? It means data. Data means automation, and automation means AI.

Now imagine interfacing this data capture with other data to enhance the customer experience. Imagine knowing when, how, and what your next move will likely be, or perhaps, should be.

Imagine every Friday I go to a local ATM and withdraw fifty dollars in cash. Next imagine that every holiday weekend in the summer I spend at a family home two hours from my residence.

What is the AI application here? Will AI change something?

AI Change

On the Friday of the holiday weekend the ATM asks me one additional question. “It is a holiday weekend, you’ll likely be out of town, would you like to withdraw additional cash?”

Of course, some would quickly identify that the ATM could be programmed to do this without knowing my usual travel plans.

What if I started out of town on Friday of a holiday weekend and my smart phone reminded me that I had not yet visited the ATM?

Imagine if I also normally visited the dry cleaner, stopped at a convenience store, and checked the weather through an on-line app.

Now imagine I’m running late and I get a (smart phone) reminder that the dry cleaner is about to close, the convenience store is nearly out of ice for my cooler, and a thunder storm is about to break out in the area.

Better yet, it reminds me that I’m now traveling away from my home and with the coming storm I’ve left two windows open.

Wouldn’t it be great? It is coming. In fact, most pieces of this are already emerging.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten RespectNavigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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attraction matters

Attraction Matters For Your Success

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There are people who don’t like baseball, apple pie, and certain automobile manufacturers. Who do you appeal to, who is in your crowd, your network, or your tribe? Do you believe attraction matters?

To some extent we all sell, we all market, and we all deliver a customer service promise. We do it in business, and we do it person to person without a formal business model or plan. Wouldn’t it be great to connect with lots of people who share in the same or similar aspirations for life, community, or career?

Much of this may depend on your market reach, where you spend your time, and what your formal philosophy on life is all about.

Habits Create Culture

I’ve tried to convince some coaching clients to read more. I’ve even presented them with the idea that they may read more than they realize, why not do it more constructively? It matters for some, but for others they just never indulge.

Podcasts are popular in some circles, but everyone wants to know the best of the best first, without really shopping around. These are limits, limited beliefs, values, and ways of doing things.

Values and traditions, they of course build what we call culture. Is the culture where you work strained? Is it because everyone is like minded or is it because of different values, beliefs, and traditions? Are those differences managed constructively or destructively?

Attraction Matters

Do you believe attraction matters? Whatever you do for your business, what you do for your customers, or what you do to grow your career, will always matter most to those who are interested.

People who don’t get involved with social media, they don’t really care about social media. People who don’t like football, NASCAR, or reality TV won’t tune in and they won’t see your masterful thirty second commercial.

When people don’t like to read, they probably won’t. When they don’t like social media they probably won’t join. An organization that doesn’t see a bigger future probably won’t care much about your career.

Everything that you do or want to accomplish will only happen in an atmosphere that embraces what you are selling.

It is true for advancing your career, for selling your product, or for building an effective team.

People who don’t connect with it will probably never buy it.

Attraction matters.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect,Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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speaking the truth

Testimonials and Speaking The Truth

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Not so long ago I was on a telephone call with a potential client. During the call, the client was clicking through some of the features of my website and specifically wanted to see customer testimonials. It causes me to wonder, are testimonials really speaking the truth?

Wanting Testimonials

As we talked on the phone, she was saying aloud the features she was seeing. “Okay, here is your seminar list. Oh and here are your blog posts. Okay and I see your speaking topics. Do you have any testimonials?”

Testimonials are valuable, certainly. They also have their own dedicated page on my site.

I wonder though, are written testimonials, the kind we see on a business web page real?

I don’t mean to suggest that anyone makes them up. Although, of course, someone could, what I question is how authentic these testimonials really feel to the reader or potential customer. Is this written word really speaking the truth?

Similar to references on a job application, would anyone knowingly list a reference that would say something bad, I don’t think so.

We live in a funny World. People cite in a negative sarcastic tone the perceived lack of authenticity related to online data, articles, and social media posts. There is a tremendous social atmosphere (movement?) which many people have labeled as, fake news.

Therefore, it may beg the question, “Why do people believe in testimonials?” How many businesses would display a comment that expresses disappointment with their product or service? Unless it is some paradoxical shift, I believe none. Zero, no one would do that.

Speaking the Truth

Testimonials may be one of the most intriguing inspirations for a call to action. They matter. Every marketer will tell you that. People believe in them. Psychologically, they move people to action. Are they fake news, maybe?

Perhaps the real truth exists in the number of clients or customers served, years in business, or when a friend of a friend provides a real spontaneous and unsolicited referral. I’m not saying that testimonials are fake news. They are probably real on most websites. What I am saying is what makes people so sure.

What did I tell the potential client? I directed her to my testimonials tab.

She was satisfied.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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handling rejection

Handling Rejection, or Processing the Right of Refusal

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It is often why people claim they do not like sales. They say it is the rejection. Are you handling rejection in the right way? Is it rejection or really just a refusal of your offer?

We may be living in a cynical world. Some social media channels offer the option for a thumbs up, or a thumbs down. Some posts get many clicks and some get few or none. Harsh comments, nasty or angry posts, and people just looking to pick a fight.

How do you accomplish your best work? What happens when your work is rejected? Imagine if you are not the successful candidate for the job, or the big sale you were attempting to close was given to someone else. What do you do, or how do you feel?

Brutal Truth

Often the brutal truth is that your work, your skills, or your offering is right for someone, it just isn’t right for them.

Another possibility, but much less of a probability, is that they don’t understand your work. Your work was exceptional but they misunderstand it. You were the best candidate but you weren’t compelling enough. Perhaps, they couldn’t make an emotional connection to your offer.

Yet another possibility is that everything was perfect but that they were already leaning towards someone else.

Some of these things are fixable. Some will not matter regardless of any effort or repair.

Handling Rejection

What may be most valuable and most important is that at least now you have an answer. Answers are rare today. The cynical world sometimes clashes with the legal world and while silence feels vain, it is all you will get. Sales professionals will tell you, “The client went dark on me.”

What is the best way of handling rejection or a refusal of your offer?

Say, “Thanks so much, I really appreciate you letting me know.”

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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sales tactics

Sell Me This Pen And Other Sales Tactics

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“Sell me this pen,” is a line from the movie, Wolf of Wall Street (2013), starring Leonardo DiCaprio. If you haven’t seen it, I am happy to recommend it. What sales tactics are you using? We all sell, right?

Sell Me

Our telephone rings with an unknown caller appearing on the display, many will skip it.

An unsolicited or unknown email appears in our Inbox and we may just delete it.

A letter arrives in our postal system mail (snail mail) and when we don’t recognized it we may just pitch it in the trash.

On the other hand, we are often known as a society that loves to buy things. Many get direct deposits to their bank accounts from their employer, and likely just as many or more have automated bill pay for home utilities, loans, and other conveniences.

Buying Addicts

There are people who we may suggest are addicted to Amazon, Ebay, or their local shopping venues. It is easy to spend, and for some, it is an enjoyable experience.

If we like to buy, why are we so put off by the telephone calls, email messages, and letters?

For many, it may be that they are not comfortable with persuasive selling. It is the selling process that we’ve become adverse to because of snarky telemarketers, pressure to add a dollar for charity, or to get thirteen records for a penny when you commit to buying one a month at full price for a year (circa late 1970s or early 1980s).

Do we like to buy, shop, and spend our money? Of course, many people do, the difference is the sales process. When we feel pushed, we sense, “this will benefit them more than me,” and we often refuse the offer.

Sales Tactics

What if it were sold it differently? What if we were sold something that answered all the questions (Alexa, Google Home), and helped you achieve your goals, or made you look and feel great?

It seems to me that persuasive selling is worn out.

If so, success then must come from offering to help, not asking someone to buy.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Good service

Good Service Done Right, Can You Find It?

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It seems that there are universal truths about many things in life. Are there universal truths about customer service? Can we still get good service done right?

Many believe that it is a very interesting time for small businesses, franchise holders, and non-profit organizations. Likely, there are no limits on size, shape, or even sector. It could be your small town dentist office, a large-scale telecommunications provider, or the 1940’s railcar dinner.

Today, as frustrations mount with poor service, the desire for good service increases. Repetitive breakdowns cause people to seek something better. Rejection may lead to obsession, and stories of poor service lead to a new quest to find the exceptions.

Universal Truths

What are some of the universal truths about good service? What are organizations doing to deliver?

They are:

  1. Timely
  2. Responsive
  3. Caring
  4. Kind
  5. Honest
  6. Trustworthy
  7. Valued
  8. Considerate
  9. Forthcoming
  10. Well-managed
  11. Respected
  12. Active
  13. Participative
  14. Decisive
  15. Resourceful

Perhaps this represents just a handful of the qualities that make things go more right, instead of wrong.

Wrong Things First

It is easy for organizations to focus on the wrong things first. By choice, they often focus on self-protection, cheapest to spec and good enough to close the sale.

These choices often become values and traditions. The traditions the organization holds on the inside. Their dirty laundry and the things they stuff in the closet.

They aren’t broadcast or made public, at least not in the written form. Customers quickly figure it out though, and they are just as quick to tell others or jump to a social media channel to spread the word.

Unfortunately, it is the evolution, the life cycle and a self-created destiny.

Good Service

For the organization that wants to change, the one that wants to grow its base, build a new reputation, and deliver good service, it often becomes about a process of unlearning.

Unlearning the bad habits, unlearning the self-protection factors that restrict quality and removing of the mindset of building or delivering to the cheapest spec wins.

Why is all of this important? It is important because there is a difference between done and done right.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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wants and needs

Wants and Needs, Which One Will You Get?

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We often use the words interchangeably. In our real world experiences there is a difference between wants and needs.

This is always important for those who sell and for those who buy.

We may want the most expensive shoes, the coolest looking car, or the house that offers the most luxury in the greatest neighborhood. Are those the things we really need?

About Sales

Chances are good that by now you’ve already become acquainted with the idea that everyone is in sales. Even the people who are not directly in a sales role are really in some form, part of sales. We all sell something. We sell our ideas, our work, and our skills.

It seems that the sweet spot for the buyer is always based on value.

In the workplace, organizations have the right to choose. They can choose between wants and needs. Potential employees are often selling themselves through the interview process, trying to match what they can offer with the highest price. Is that what the organization wants?

The easy answer of course is, sometimes. Sometimes the budget for the position and the expectations are high enough that the employer shops for the expensive, the smartest, and the talent that they expect to propel them higher.

In other cases the organization may shop only for the minimum. They shop for the lowest price and hope to achieve the highest value. Are they ever disappointed? You bet.

Wants and Needs

It seems logical then that we may not always need what we pay for, but in contrast sometimes we may want more than we what we are willing to pay.

This is why price should not come first, but come last. When you find exactly what you need and it is also exactly what you want then you know you are willing to pay the absolute most your budget will allow.

When we start with price, we tend to confuse the wants and needs.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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customer experience mathematics

Customer Experience Mathematics

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People often suggest you’ll find greater understanding when you do the math. Does the budget fit or will the return on investment be enough? Someone may suggest that you should do the math. Will customer experience mathematics work?

In some cases, people are just trying to make a point through rhetoric. In other cases instead of telling someone to do the math, we may suggest, “We have done the math.”

Right Answers

What we really mean is that we know the right answer. We understand both the problem and the solution. So much so that now that it is apparent, it feels silly that we were once on the wrong path.

Doing the math is interesting though because there really is only one correct answer. In a field of infinite answers, the probability of a wrong answer is much more likely.

Many Possibilities

When seeking correct answers for how to do the marketing program, the advertising campaign, or close the sale, doing the math is more difficult. Sure, you can apply some math but there may not be only one single answer.

When you want innovation, a new direction, or to capture a new audience for your product or service doing the math may be a detriment, it closes options.

Although sometimes it becomes clear that we have the wrong answer. It still doesn’t mean that there is only one correct solution.

Customer Experience Mathematics

It seems that when we are trying to make an impact, be innovative, and creative, we have to know the difference between right answers, wrong answers, and the possibilities in between.

If you are planning to deliver the absolute best, customer experience mathematics may not matter so much.

The objective should be to avoid the wrong answers, but finding the right one may not happen by doing the math.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Customer Sales Funnel

Customer Sales Funnel Feels Easy

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Many people make their living in sales. Often those who are not in a sales profession don’t realize how much they sell. I don’t mean quantity, I mean the activity of selling. Do you understand the customer sales funnel?

A sales funnel, also sometimes known as the sales pipeline is jargon for having many opportunities that eventually result in a closed sale. People are always selling. They may be selling their ideas, their thoughts, or an alternative direction.

Large Funnels

For everyone, sales professional or not, having a large funnel or an overflowing pipeline often feels good but it may also be deceptive.

Have some of my M&M’s, I have a five-pound bag.

My apple tree is loaded, stop by and pick some.

We just lost that sale, but no worries there are hundreds more in the pipeline.

Abundance and Complacency

Abundance may cause comfort, and with comfort comes complacency.

What is often not realized or forgotten is the scarcity of abundance. Having a sense of urgency or the realization that the funnel is nearly empty is much more productive.

The customers that you’ve talked to, the ones who have expressed interest, the quote, the sale coming next week, or the special of the month are not guaranteed. A big pipeline, the large funnel, signals that things are coming, until they don’t.

The pipeline is dry.

My funnel is nearly empty.

How do I get more sales?

Customer Sales Funnel

When you have many ideas, it seems like the possibilities are endless, so there is no need to spend energy on ideas. When your email inbox is loaded with new messages, your telephone always buzzing, and people seeking what you have your chance for complacency are much higher.

Five pounds of M&M’s are many, share some, and a loaded apple tree is a great problem, give some away.

Assuming things will always be this easy is a mistake you don’t want to make.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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