Creating Customer Loyalty

Recently I experienced some real-life scenarios of businesses creating customer loyalty and some sound ways to keep and enhance customer loyalty. There is always so much focus and discussion about customer satisfaction. All well and good, but, let’s look at the difference between satisfaction and loyalty.

Satisfaction is defined as the fulfillment or gratification of a desire, need, or appetite and the pleasure or contentment derived from such gratification. When talking about loyalty, there are terms such as steadfast, unwavering devotion, allegiance and faithful used. Satisfaction is more of a short term feeling, while loyalty implies that there is something more concrete and long term involved. Providing your products and services to your customers may create satisfaction, but, those may be able to be purchased anywhere and still create the same satisfaction. Quality products and/or services, timely delivery, at a fair and competitive price, that work for your customer. Seems very easy to duplicate this.

The real-life experiences I encountered recently were getting my haircut at the same salon, Shear Design, starting my 24th year and going to AutoZone to try to resolve an issue with windshield wiper replacement. I sometimes wonder about the loyalty that has been created at Shear Design after 23 years and I would have to imagine going on 300 visits. I have had massotherapy there and I do get Nature’s Sunshine products there now as well. I know the staff and the staff knows me. It’s about relationships. The pricing is not an issue as I value the treatment and sense of importance when I am there. I feel that they value me as a customer. The same day I decide to stop at AutoZone to try and resolve an issue that I had with replacement wipers that I had purchased there previously. The gentleman that helped me told me that I couldn’t get a replacement blade for the wiper, but, did go as far as to come out to my car and work on the wiper arm, get the replacement wiper to fit and work correctly on my car. I feel that that was a lot more than a parts store clerk has to do.

Gaining customer satisfaction is the first step, exceeding customer needs and expectations is the next step, and gaining the customers loyalty long term is the ultimate goal. Both of these businesses will be getting my referrals and my continued business and loyalty.

Are you passionate in what you do?

Passion as described in the dictionary is boundless enthusiasm and the object of such enthusiasm. Do have passion for whatever is that you are doing? If you are in sales do you have passion for the sale? If you do have have that passion, it translates into many things such as monetary rewards, recognition, personal satisfaction, career advancement and the list goes on.

Consider what it is that you do and how you can apply that “boundless enthusiasm” to that job. Passion is not something that you can turn on and off if you are planning to or wanting to be more successful in your career. You will find that the top salespeople, CEO’s, managers in all walks of life and varying fields are excited about what they do.

I know that you are thinking to yourself, “Hey, I give 100% everyday in going through the functions of my job”. But, to be passionate about your job means so much more than that. It means that you are excited to go to work everyday for yourself, your company, your customers, your family and anything else that matters in your life. You go out every day in the hopes that you can help somebody else become successful as well. It means that you continue to learn about your specific field, the industry you work in, your customers and their needs and developing your own skills to put all of this knowledge to work.

There is no class, seminar or workshop to go to that will teach you or instill passion in you about your job or career. You have to look inside yourself to see how it is that you do your job. Do you do your job for yourself or do you want a co-worker, peer or customer to be just as successful or more than you? How do you think of your company as you do your job? How are you talking about your product or services? Are your excited about the prospect of helping others. Sincerely caring. When I have appointments, I want to help my customers solve a problem, get better service, increase productivity, etc.

So I will pose the question once more, are you passionate about what you do? All I would say is that you need to go out everyday and ask yourself that same exact question.

Look for these food trends in 2006

To whet diners’ appetites for the coming year, USA Today’s Jerry Shriver asked experts from the food and wine world to predict the trends that will guide out visits to restaurants and grocery stores. The only consensus among them is that something new and probably delectable awaits every taste bud. Read the article. Read about the latest retail trends at CNNMoney.com.

Back To Basics – Prospecting 101

One the keys to growing your sales is generating new business. You can penetrate existing accounts, you can regain lost accounts or you get new accounts, all ways in generating more sales dollars. Let’s get back to basics and look at prospecting for new accounts.

Every time I hear the word “prospecting,” I think of one of these crotchety old miners knee high in some icy mountain stream panning for hours in search of a few tiny flakes of pay dirt. In defining prospecting it is to search for or explore (a region) for mineral deposits or oil. Looking for gold! Here is one sure-fire method that will help you garner more new business and make more money.

When you have targeted and qualified your prospect, you now need to start planning and develop a strategy to get this business. Layout a plan that shows 13 sales calls. Why? Most sales people quit after 3 calls and on average it takes 8-10 calls to get the first order. List it by week number and date the call. For every sales call that you are planning to make, list a specific plan of attack. Also allow for notes on the results and the follow up needed on each of these calls.

This program can be a self-starter style by the sales rep themselves, developed by sales management or worked on as a team. I like the team aspect of it as there is ownership taken by the sales rep and support from sales management. What’s the old saying – “two heads are better than one”. The key to the success of any prospecting program is to follow it every week. If you miss a week, it’s like starting over. You want to look at the successes within the prospects as well as any objections that occur. Continue to develop your strategies based on your results and you will find that this 13 sales call process will get you more new business than ever before.

Teamwork….From a Football Perspective

Did you watch the NFL divisional playoff games over this past weekend? I can tell you that the teams that won typically used teamwork to achieve their goals. That’s coaching, offense, defense and special teams. Take the Seattle Seahawks, who lost the league MVP Shaun Alexander early in their game, yet came together as a team and won their game to advance to the NFC championship game. Take the Carolina Panthers who had to go into Chicago and win on the road to advance to the NFC championship game, without their star back Stephan Davis and then losing DeShaun Foster to a broken ankle. Take the Pittsburgh Steelers who had the hostile environment of the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, the referees bad calls, an unexpected fumble and much more, but, managed to use all aspects of teamwork to advance to the AFC championship game.

If you had an opportunity to hear any comments after these games you would have found that players from the winning teams kept talking about how all apsects of the team gelled together and they found ways to win. Jerome Bettis from the Steelers talked about how he let the team down with his fumble that almost cost them the game, but, how his teammates rallied behind him and they won the game. If you heard the Colt’s Peyton Manning’s comments, in the same breath as he was trying to say he was being a good team mate, he seemed to point fingers at his coaching staff and offensive line when it came to their protection schemes.

Can you adapt the principles of an NFL football team in everday sales life? Positive mental attitude, listening to your coaches and peers, never say die attitude, focusing on the end result….winning! Use you entire sales team, your managers, your sales support system that is in place to create that winning attitude.

As the old saying goes, there is is no ‘I’ in TEAM. Keep in mind….teamwork is the cooperative effort by the members of a group or team to achieve a common goal.

Cold Calling Made Easy

Even the name is chilling. There is a very small percentage of sales people that will tell you that they enjoy and look forward to “Cold Calling”. We have all had to walk into a business and ask “is the owner or manager in” or even the dreaded “I need to see the person that does the purchasing of your products”. Cold calling at its finest. You’re not alone if you dread this process.

Now, there will always be a need to cold call businesses whether it be in person or on the phone to generate new leads and prospects in the marketplace where you work. If you want to grow your business, you have to make new contacts. But, I am a firm believer that cold calls can be minimized by information gathering, organization skills, networking skills and some pre-call planning. We can minimize those cold calls by making them into warm calls.

Warm calls are made on a potential prospect when you have a contact name, a referral, pertinent industry information and/or news or a common contact, event or topic that can be used while asking for the potential prospect. We could always refer to this as the proverbial ice-breaker.

It is so much easier walking into a business and getting to ask if Joe Smith is in and then talking about his business. This seems to take a bit of the uncertainty out of the call and most likely will get a dialog going to work on getting your card in his hands and on your way to making an appointment. By the way, getting an appointment for the first pre-planned call is the main objective of this warm call. Wishing for anything more than that may be setting yourself up to fail.

Making cold calls into warm calls does take a bit of work on your part. If you are looking for an operators name you may have to do some pre-call investigative work on the account prior to making your first call. You can ask your current customers for a contact name, look into local business organizations, i.e., Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Kiwanis and the like, or search on the Internet. When searching the Internet for contact information you can gather as much information as possible about the potential prospect via the local newspapers web site, business web sites or by conducting a Google search using the prospects name.

Always be in information gathering mode when it comes to working on potential prospects. When you are out and about, at business functions, at social functions or at any possible networking event, always have a business card and be ready to gather contact information. Take any opportunity to get information that you can apply to your initial call to make it a warm call.

Statistically speaking, most sales are not closed until after the fifth call, but, we can’t get to that point without that all-important first call. Gather as much info as possible to make it a warm call and be confident in yourself, your company and your products. So be organized, pre-plan your call and go have some fun now with warm calling.