Answers. Salespeople want answers. Here are a few of the answers to questions I get in the mail (fax, e, and snail). The purpose of this column is two-fold. First to give you a sampling of what people ask, and second to assure you that you’re not alone in experiencing the weirdness that everyday selling seems to breed.
Dear Jeffrey, I sell advertising and in my area their is a lot of competition the main competitor has been in the area for 35yrs, we have only been in the area for 4yrs. Besides the $ issue how would you fight this problem? JasonJason, Use testimonials instead of a media kit. Your customers are better at selling your product than you are.
NOTE TO ALL: the testimonial is the most powerful, least utilized sales weapon.
Mr. Gitomer: (I hate when people call me that) Can you please recommend a book on how a great salesman should dress in today’s business world? Preferable something more current than John T. Malloy’s, “The New Dress For Success” circa 1988. Thank you very much for your response in advance. Also I really get a lot out of your articles in the Business Journal, and just recently bought your book “Knock Your Socks Off Selling” (forget my first comment, I like this guy already) Sincerely, Christopher
Christopher, Dress one notch better than your customers, or dress business casual but look like money. Jeffrey
NOTE WELL: dot.com dress (slob minus one) is as outdated as easy venture capital
Dear Jeffrey, I’ve read the book Enterprise One to One, by Peppers and Rodgers. This book states that different customers should be treated differently, depending on their estimate lifetime value. Do you believe that all customers should be treated the same, regardless of their potential lifetime value? If so, how does this pay off for a company, when some people are the kinds of customers you really just don’t want.
Treating customers according to WORTH is dangerous. You can offer them different benefits at higher levels, but small one day becomes large. As my customer loyalty book clearly states: “treat all customers the same — LIKE GOLD.” Better stated, here is The (George Orwell) Animal Farm rule of customer service “All the customers on the farm are GOLDEN, some are more golden than others.” Bill Gates and Paul Allen were once fledgling businesspeople with a prayer and an idea. How would you have rated them twenty years ago when they weren’t “worth” that much? How big of a mistake would that have been?
Jeffrey, Do you suggest giving every customer whatever they want, whenever they want it? In that case, a business would have no policies at all, and every business has to have some policies, I believe. Becky
Becky, Nordstrom has no policy and they seem to be doing just fine. (Their only rule to employees is, “Use your best judgement at all times.”) Policy tells you what CAN’T be done. It’s one of the rudest legacies of the twentieth century. Companies need to have a little book that tells employees what CAN be done to help the customer. Jeffrey
Dear Jeffrey, Adding the friendly touch is a great approach to customer service, but how does one standardize this to keep things lively and fun? I am thinking of the example of the friendly Southwest pilots, or giving the customer a break when the sale technically ended the day before. How do you train and standardize these processes across a firm and keep everyone smiling, happy and energized. I think these are excellent ideas but the reason that customer service is so lacking nowadays is that these principles are difficult to execute. Can you comment on how to effectively execute these principles? Sandra
Dear Sandra, The single biggest missing element in business is “friendly.” You can’t legislate or mandate friendly, it’s a state of mind and a state of being. My first rule of HR is: Hire happy people! And my first rule of business environment is: Have happy bosses. Happiness is a person and an atmosphere, not a rule. Happiness and friendliness are difficult to execute because of the lack of training and leadership, low morale due to corporate greed or politics, coupled with the shortsighted drive for “profits this quarter” at the expense of everything and everyone. Pity. Jeffrey
Jeffrey, Thanks for your great columns. Just curious – your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org — why isn’t it CONSULTANT@gitomer.com? Tom
Tom, I like “salesman” — it best describes what I do — salespeople are afraid to use it — I’m proud of it. Jeffrey
Send me your sales questions, and you’ll get answers. If your question (or sales tip) is answered in print, you get a free copy of my new book Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. Go to www.gitomer.com – find: Sales Help – I need Jeffrey’s help – I have a question — and ask away.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to email@example.com