Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at gitomer.me.

STRATEGY: Believe!

In any financially challenged market, in any down market, you are personally challenged to be your best. To think clearly and perform flawlessly.

Your customers are counting on you to help them, not just sell them. Your company is counting on you to sell more at a time when sales are tough to come by.

This is a time that measures the strength of your relationships, but more important, the strength of your total belief system:

  • Belief in your company
  • Belief in your products
  • Belief in your service
  • Belief in yourself

You must also believe that the customer is better off having purchased from you.

Your ability to accomplish goals and objectives is tied to your belief.

Your ability to make sales is tied to your belief.

Your success is tied to your belief.

How strong is your belief?


The Three-Option Opportunity

The most powerful Customer Service lesson in the world

It was just an ordinary flight from Ft. Lauderdale.

“Welcome to First Class.” said Captain Marty Bell.

Startled, I stopped what I was doing to listen. I’ve taken more than 250 flights in the last two years, and this is the first time I have ever seen the pilot mingle with the passengers before the flight. (Passenger is the airline’s poorly chosen euphemism they substitute for the real word, “customer“).

Bell came by my seat and looked at my laptop computer he said, “That’s about all you need today isn’t it? What are you writing about?” “You.” I said.

I told him my shock at his person-to-person contact. “I do it all the time. Bell said. “I talk to older folks, the handicapped, and kids first. The rest of the people see me and talk if they want to. A lot of people are scared to fly and want to see the captain. Heck I’m scared,” he quipped.

“You do this before every flight?” I asked — hoping for the magic answer of consistency. “Oh yeah. It sets the tone for a great flight,” he said with the voice of experience.

He walked all the way to the back of the plane — stopping three or four times along the way. I watched as he tried on a Mexican sombrero, and kibitzed with everyone. This guy was great. Answering questions, helping people with bags. The entire cabin was laughing and in a great mood.

He had completed his goal of setting the tone.

On the way back to the front of the plane he asked a small boy if he wanted to see the cockpit. The kid’s eyes lit up as he followed captain Bell into the inner sanctum. “Here, sit in my seat,” the Captain said.

The boy was glazed. “Wow” was about all he could muster, but the impression Captain Bell made — and the kindness he showed, will last for years.

The child’s mother thanked Captain Bell profusely. He responded with the humility of John Wayne at the end of a movie after he’d single-handedly won the west. Bell had won the hearts of the passengers –in 5 minutes.

Now we’re ready to take off. Somehow, I anticipate the announcements will take on an unusual flavor.

“Greetings ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Welcome to US Air’s flight number 3231 to Charlotte and New York, LaGuardia. I noticed a lot of you were coming back from cruises and vacations — welcome back. The weather up north is a bit colder than here…” A warm, personalized message.

Along the way we were treated to the captain’s personal geography and history lesson about the Kennedy Space Center, Disneyworld, the Daytona 500 which we passed over while the race was in progress. (Cool!) Jacksonville, Savannah, Paris Island, Hilton Head and Charleston information was imparted. Fun stuff about vacation areas, golf courses, and other friendly repartee. After what seemed like 15 minutes, the plane landed.

As is my tradition on my way out of an airplane, I wanted to thank the captain and crew for a safe flight. As many times as I fly, I still think it’s kind of a modern miracle that you can be in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida at 12:45pm and land in Charlotte, North Carolina less than two hours later. I find that thanking the flight crew affirms the magic, and lets them know how much I appreciate them making my business possible to conduct.

I saw the captain leap out of the cockpit and de-plane first. He was standing there in the jet way waiting to personally say good-bye and thank everyone. WOW.

“I’m going to write about you.” I said as I walked out of the plane.”Why?” he puzzled. “Because I had an exceptional customer experience and I want to tell others,” I said.

Marty Bell didn’t just command the airplane — he commanded the respect of the customers inside.

“Make sure you mention US Air. Be sure to tell them about the company,”he shouted as I walked up the jet way.

Captain Bell — to everyone on the flight today, you were the company.

That’s the story. But there’s a much more powerful lesson attached to the story. The most powerful customer service lesson I’ve found. It’s called three-option opportunity — read on…

The Three Option Opportunity “service leads to sales” lesson…There were 125 passengers (customers) on the plane. Many, if not most, will be asked the question, “How was your flight?”

That same type of question will be asked to customers who deal with you after a product has been delivered or a service has takes place. The question will create dialog. The type of dialog it creates is entirely up to you.

The story will be re-told to fellow workers, business associates, family members and/or friends, about their experience with you. This presents a three-option opportunity:

  1. To say something good about you and your business.
  2. To say nothing about you and your business.
  3. To say something bad about you and your business.

Let me share some possible responses, and think of them in terms of how your customers would answer questions about the experiences they had dealing with you. Example –

  1. “Jeffrey, how was your flight?”
    The greatest. The pilot was great, incredible service — best flight I’ve been on in two years…(and on and on)
    “Wow,what airlines did you fly on?”
  2. “Jeffrey, how was your flight?”
    Well, OK nothing special. (end of conversation)
  3. “Jeffrey, how was your flight?”
    You wouldn’t believe how rude the flight attendants were. Let me tell you about it…(and on and on)
    “Really,that’s horrible — what airlines?”

Captain Marty Bell was smart enough to realize that he set the tone for the entire flight with his words and deeds in the first 5 minutes of his encounter with his customers. Do you?

Here’s the get real factor.
Customers don’t make up stories about your business — it is you who create them.The customer simply retells them. How the story is told, and what the content is, is up to you.
Whenpeople ask for a referral. “Hey Jeffrey, you fly all the time.I’m going to Dallas — what airlines should I fly. Three optionswill occur. You will either get…
1.A referral – USAir is the greatest.
or3. A reverse referral – Anywhere BUT USAir.

NOTEWELL. If the experience was good, the customer may not pro-activelysay something, but if the experience was bad — you can bet your lastdollar they’ll bring up the story in the first 5 minutes of aconversation — depending on the severity of the displeasure –sometimes in the first 5 seconds.

Thislesson of customer service is the most valuable I can offer. Firstbecause it shows how one front-line person represents and speaksvolumes for a multi-billion dollar company (certainly more powerfulthan a bunch of rhetorical ads on TV that are so plastic they shouldbe accompanied by vomit bags). And second it creates a classicopportunity to examine how customers can make or break a businessafter a transaction has taken place. TheThree-Option Opportunity — which option have you chosen?

Itis said that 80% of American business is done by word of mouthadvertising. What’s the word on you?

7.5advantages of great service…

1.It’s free. Costs little or nothing — worth a fortune
2.It builds goodwill.
3.It builds customer loyalty – they actually look forward to the nexttime they will fly with you. Happy to do business with you.
4.It creates memorable experiences that will be retold time after time.
5.It makes your customers salespeople for your business.
6.It leads to referred business
7.It makes it harder for competitors to steal away customers — even ata lower price.
7.5It creates a clear distinction between two companies engaged in thesame business.