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August 8, 2013

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You meet with a prospective client, and the meeting goes good.  There is definite interest in your product or service, but not enough to buy right on the spot.  You leave feeling positive that you have a chance to win the business in the near future.  You don’t want to come across as pushy, and you follow-up in two weeks to set another meetingwho, but unfortunately it is too late.  The prospective client has bought from someone else.

This isn’t uncommon today, and it’s not personal.  What we all have to realize and believe is that our society is completely overwhelmed with tasks, meetings, and messages.  Our electronic devices that were designed to help us consolidate tasks and free up more time have simply allowed us to do way much more than we used to, making us more busy and distracted than ever.  They have also allowed competition, direct and indirect, from across the globe into everyone’s back yard.

If you really want the business, and you really want to keep it, you’re going to have to find creative ways to stay in front of your prospects and clients.  If you don’t, you’ll be forgotten all too easy. Make sure you are in front of your clients often, by scheduling regular meetings and they know your commitment to them.  Follow up with prospective clients several times a week with information that has great value to them.  Send them client testimonials.

There are all sorts of ways you can keep your name in front of current and potential clients.  Find what suits your personality and go for it, and best of all, this little discipline will put you ahead of nearly every competitor you have!

footballIt has become rather tiresome to hear about the rampant plague of poor customer service in West Texas related to the oil boom.  Was it really that great before?  Not really, and why is that?  Poor training.  You can’t expect your staff to perform at a high level without a comprehensive, proven training program.

Football season is about to start, so let’s make a comparison with the training a football player goes through.  All the training and practice is focused toward one game a week.  A season has anywhere from ten games for high school players to twenty for professional players.  Let’s call these games “opportunities” to equate them to the business world.  A football player has ten to twenty “opportunities” a year to perform.  That’s really not very many when you consider there are 365 days in a year.

A football player will spend his entire year training…training that is completely focused on these ten to twenty “opportunities”.  He may spend more than three hours per day training.  Most likely he will train at least five days per week.  If you do the math, that’s around 260 days of training, close to a thousand hours or more, for ten to twenty “opportunities” that will last thirty to sixty hours of playing time.

And you want your staff to have a week’s worth of training for “opportunities” that are abundant throughout the week?  Commit to quality, ongoing training.  Commit to great customer service.  Commit and you will have no problems blowing your competition off the field!

I don’t usually keep up with UFC, Ultimate Fighting Championship, but I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the Silva vs. Weidman hype streaming all over the internet. Seeing the videos of this champion, Silva, doing more dancing than punching and even spending several minutes taunting his opponent, I couldn’t help but think “I hope he gets his”. Sure enough, when he dropped his hands Weidman took advantage and with a strong left hook sent the champions eyes rolling to the back of his head. There was a new champion! Silva thought he was better, and he probably was, but he let his guard down and his era was over.

No matter what business you’re in, you know once you’re the best, you have to work twice as hard to stay the best. It’s the same with customer service. You have a great company culture, training program and you work to hire the best people who fit this culture. But, it isn’t always easy to keep your employees motivated each day to deliver the type of service you have worked hard to instill in them.

There are several skills you must look for when hiring & training your staff for handling your customers the way you want them treated. Just being a “people person” isn’t enough. What does that mean anyway? Most people can be great when things are going their way or when things are easy. But, how do they respond when things are tough. Do they get complacent & let their guard down?

Below is a list of essential skills your employees must possess if they are on the front lines representing your brand.

  • Patience to listen and not interrupt with policies. They must have the attentiveness to really hear what the problem is.
  • Communication skills to respond in the appropriate matter and diffuse a situation if necessary. Using positive language always encourages an amicable ending. Instead of “we don’t have your replacement part now”, try “the product you need will be available in 2 days”.
  • Product knowledge to make an educated decision.
  • Acting skills. We know some situations are just ridiculous, but your employees handling these must still be able to respond in caring fashion and sometimes that takes a bit of acting ability.
  • A calming presence is essential in situations that could easily get out of control.
  • Ability to handle surprises because you never know when an unsatisfied customer will come your way.

No matter how you train your new employees, it has to be on a consistent basis. Because it is easy to let your guard down and lose customers.

Celebrating Freedom!

July 3, 2013

Freedom, Imagehopefully you will be celebrating it tomorrow. Americans have paid a high price for freedom, and it’s worth it.

Have you ever thought about freedom in your business, or the price you pay for it? A business owner gets to set his own schedule, but what most people never understand is that he or she takes the business everywhere. You take it home, on vacation, wake up with it, and go to bed with it. I’m not saying it is bad that this happens. It’s just how it is, and most business owners love what they do, but sometimes a little breathing room can really help.

SDB Creative Group gives our clients a significant amount of freedom. First we give them their time back that used to be spent meeting with, taking phone calls from, and having to battle with different sales representatives from all types of different media (TV, Radio, Internet, T-shirts, Yellow Pages)…there are thousands that could be listed. Our clients simply defer all these calls to SDB and go on about working on their business.

Second we help put together a real marketing plan for them. We spend the time that they don’t have researching and zeroing in on the absolute best way to get their message in front of the most valuable target. We produce all the assets needed, negotiate and buy the media, and monitor and audit the performance of the campaign…all while our clients work on their business, saving thousands of hours of time over the lifetime of our relationship together.

If you’re feeling trapped by your marketing and advertising effort, I invite you to contact SDB. We’ll make it better, and we will give your freedom back. Here are a few words from one of our clients, Medical Center Pharmacy http://youtu.be/d5KCqkSUwcQ

Follow up or Fall Out

June 27, 2013

Here is a really pathetic statistic. Over 40% of the time a new prospect is never followed up with after the first call. Consider how distracted our society has become, and Hellothat should really scare you. You are exposed to more than 35,000 messages a day between signs, email, texts, advertisements, etc. Chances are your prospects forget about you the next day. How could they not? It’s not personal. They are just simply overwhelmed with messages.

The good news is that you have a tremendous opportunity to stand out simply by developing your organization’s follow up skills. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Schedule a follow up call before ending your meeting.
  • Send a handwritten thank you note. This is a lost art, but will put you ahead of nearly everyone.
  • Confirm the details and next action of your meeting with a brief email.
  • Add every new prospect to your email distribution list.
  • Call all prospects at least one time per week.
  • Meet with current clients weekly if possible, and monthly at a minimum.
  • If you have an unhappy client or things aren’t running to their expectations, follow up with them right away. It’s better to deal with a problem head and let your client know you are doing everything possible to deliver.

Today we all have more competition for our clients’ attention, and most of it comes from indirect competitors. Remember that someone is going to call them, usually someone different every day. If you don’t follow up, one day someone else will win their business and you won’t. You may have to follow up with a prospect more than 20 times to get their business, but that’s ok. They will know you’re committed to them.

How do you follow up? Share some of your best experiences with us.

receptionist1We’ve all heard that first impressions are everything. Have you ever considered where first impressions are made for your business? Chances are most occur at your front desk. The great motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, referred to the receptionist as one of the most critical persons in the sales process. This person literally has the power to break a sale, and that is why it should be a priority of yours to make sure everyone in your operation is fully trained on proper phone etiquette. Here are some tips for answering the phone that can make your business stand well above the competition:

  • Smile when the phone rings. Get in the right frame of mind.
  • Answer every call by the third ring. No one likes to wait.
  • Answer with enthusiasm and energy, but don’t speak too fast. Be easy to understand.
  • Clearly identify who you are and your organization.
  • Have a pen and paper handy so you can quickly write down the name and organization of the person and the details related to the call. This displays a high level of professionalism and makes the caller feel important and appreciated.
  • Listen carefully taking notes. Don’t take on other tasks while on the phone.
  • Confirm that you have everything right before ending the call.
  • Ask permission before putting the caller on hold. Don’t keep anyone on hold more than 17 seconds.
  • Always remain professional no matter how the person on the other end is acting. If you have someone who is upset, you have a much better chance at turning the situation around if you remain calm.
  • If you take a message for someone, make sure they received it.
  • Don’t use a speaker phone unless you need more than one person to be on your end of the call. Speaker phones give the impression that the call is not private and you may not be fully concentrating on the call.
  • Create an on-hold message. It’s much better than silence and you can highlight products, services, and achievements your company has made. It’s free advertising.

Hopefully you are already doing all or most of these, and if not, we hope you try them. Don’t have an on-hold message? SDB Creative Group can produce a highly professional one for you! If you have any other tips on answering the phone, we’d love for you to share!

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