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!

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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.

Years ago I worked in the Sales & Marketing office for an upscale wellness center. One day I received a call from our front desk saying there was an upset member at the front who cheerswanted to talk to someone NOW! So there I was 1 minute later listening to a rant about cheap Q-tips that were now stuck in his ear. I knew what he wanted, so without hesitation I found some tweezers and pulled out the small bit of cotton. 2 days later he walked into my office with 2 friends ready to join. He also was very happy with the newly acquired Q-tips in the locker room. So a 5 minute activity earned me and my company a fan for life and new business!

Have you ever heard “A happy customer tells a friend; an unhappy customer tells the world”? Even though this has been a business adage from years ago, it couldn’t be any truer than today, especially with the internet. From social media, to Google, Yelp and other review sights, there are a myriad of ways people can air their grievances for all to read.

So what do you do if you have an angry customer? Ignore them in the hopes they’ll just go away? Chances are they will just go away, and trash your company as they go, especially if they were never allowed to be heard. Negative referrals are often more powerful than positive referrals and the cost of replacing an angry customer can be 6-7 times greater than retaining their business. Below are a few tips to keep in mind when handling an angry customer, either on social media or in person.

  • Don’t delete negative posts. Show you’re handling the issue
  • Don’t respond with a formal-sounding copied and pasted reply
  • Don’t pick your favorite among problems. Help all customers the same across the board.
  • If you have an employee who has a knack for handling difficult situations, then this person should be tasked with contacting the unhappy customer.
  • Let the person vent and listen. Sometimes that’s all they really need to do.

Truly, you should welcome complaints and look at it as a way to improve your business. Before you walk into a heated situation remember, the people who will share a complaint, are also the customers who can turn out to be one of your biggest cheerleaders bringing you more business and great reviews!

Join SDB’s Super Service Shout Out and have the chance to win $100 Visa Gift Card! The rules are simple. Reward those who serve you with a smile. Every time you post on Facebook with a short story and photo about a positive experience you have had, take a picture and post it on Instagram or make a short video on Vine and get a double entry, #Summershout. It’s so simple and it will feel so good!

Early last week we published our 3rd blog in our series of Steps to Business Success in 2013. Or, to some know as New Year’s Resolutions. Our last step was to Get Fit, not just physically but in all aspects of our lives. One area we plan to focus on is work hard when it’s time to work, but also provide a fun, stress-less environment at work. Tuesday is National Have Fun at Work Day. So, here’s a photo of our staff getting out and having fun. In this picture are 9 images that tell something about each person on our team. See if you can find the items listed below the photo! We’ll provide the answers on Tuesday. Need extra help?  You can click on the photo for a larger image.

Find the hidden images & celebrate National Have Fun at Work Day!

Find the hidden images & celebrate National Have Fun at Work Day!

  • Shane’s guitar, since he’s a  musician at heart
  • Dedee’s suitcase since traveling is her passion
  • Deonne’s Jubilee Center bag, spending her time helping others
  • Lonnie’s popcorn, from his Summer Mummers friends and football for his favorite sport
  • Caroline’s Shrek poster, she’ll be performing at the MCT beginning in February
  • Leah’s shopping bags, she never misses a sale
  • Erin’s painting, you can catch her exhibit in April
  • Karisa’s roller skates, a favorite activity from younger years & now

Training staff. Every company recognizes the importance of it, but few actually dedicate the resources to properly do it. This week’s blog looks at two methods of training and asks you which one you want to practice, and which one you currently are. Have you built your company where it can run on its own without you? Can your staff handle every situation without you? If the answer is no, your training program needs an upgrade. What kind of training are you currently using? Let’s take a look first at the most popular form.

The Tribal Method
Using the tribal method, companies pass information down from employee to employee. Is it effective? If you have a superstar employee passing the information down, yes. In many cases though bad habits and poor practices are passed down using the tribal method. This only multiplies these bad habits and practices in your operation. Unfortunately the tribal method of training is the most used.

Developing a successful training program takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. This makes the tribal method very attractive. It is easy and requires very little thought other than which employee to match up and train your new one. Don’t be tempted to take the easy road.

Now let’s look at an alternative to the tribal method that will get your employees producing faster with less effort on your end (except in the development phase)

The Systematic Method
The systematic method is very simple. You basically define how your entire operation functions. The hardest part for you is taking the time to define your operation. If you will take the time to do this, it will pay huge dividends for you in the future and will save you and your staff a tremendous amount of time training new employees. Here are some basics that you should include:

  • Welcome statement
  • Employee handbook
  • Time management
  • Company history
  • Company philosophy
  • Business model
  • Sales process
  • Products and services
  • Competitors
  • Industry knowledge
  • Specialized knowledge
  • Policies
  • Procedures

Next you should include testing on each section. These tests make sure your new employees comprehend the information. They should be reviewed with the new employees before moving on to the next section. This also gives you the opportunity to reemphasize key points of the training to set the appropriate expectations for your new employee.

Your training can be presented in a printed format or even better, online in a separate training website. If you would like to learn more about how to develop a systematic, online training program, give SDB a call. We’ll even let you take a peek at ours.

Every week, we’re breaking down the 5 Key Strategies for a Successful Oil Show. 

This week, we discuss ‘Staff Training.’ Read on for 18 Training tips as you plan for this year’s Oil Show…or for any trade show or expo.

Staff Training

  1. Practice, practice, practice.
  2. Brief your team on common trade show espionage practices and how to defend against them.
  3. Give each booth staffer a specific role, with job expectations clearly spelled out.
  4. Stress the value of friendly greetings, polite manners, and appropriate body language.
  5. Take the time to familiarize your team with the lead collection technology you’ll be using before the trade show.
  6. Make sure at least some of the people going to the show are prepared to answer technical questions.
  7. Establish a dress code for your staffers: They’ll look more professional and act as better ambassadors for your company.
  8. Practice asking qualifying questions with your booth staffers.
  9. Product demonstrations are a great way to draw a crowd: Make sure your team knows how to give an effective, engaging presentation by having them practice before the trade show.
  10. If you are sponsoring entertainment, a speaker, or other event, make sure your team knows what to do during this time.
  11. Designate a ‘go-to’ person to act as a liaison with trade show management. The better your relationship with management is, the better your show experience will be.
  12. Read the exhibitor’s service manual it. It’s full of valuable information to help ensure a stress-free show.
  13. Establish a follow up protocol for hot leads, promising prospects, and likely customers. Use this protocol to turn leads into sales.
  14. Decide on your main message: make it a single, short sentence that’s memorable.
  15. Before the show, visit your booth as an attendee would.
  16. Arm your staffers with answers to common objections.
  17. Learn to more quickly disengage with unqualified attendees.
  18. Hold a contest to reward the staffers who take the highest quantity of qualified leads.

Can we help you with this year’s Oil Show or any upcoming trade show or expo? Give us a call at 432.218.6736 or check out our website at www.sdbcreativegroup.com.