By Keith Center
In this article the principle of Find More, Win More, Keep More is explained, It’s a great slogan that came from GE Capital. It’s a great slogan, and I wish that I had thought of it myself.
In order to find more, we need to think about these four areas…
- Marketing: We do marketing to create awareness.
- Public Relations: Similar to marketing, but instead of us telling everyone how great our products and services are, someone else does it. This creates infinitely more credibility. According Al and Laura Ries in Advertising is Dead, Long Live PR, advertising is for maintaining brands, and PR is for building them. Keep this in mind.
- Prospecting: Primarily traditional sales cold calls, etc.
- Networking: We need to find out where our ideal customer hangs out, and hang out with them. Or, find out who their influencers are and hang out with them. The best book that I have read on this topic is Bob Berg’s Endless Referrals.
This following quote from Frank Bettger summarizes the essence of sales.
“This business of selling narrows down to just one thing, seeing the people. Show me any man of ordinary ability who will go out every day and earnestly tell his story to four or five people every day, and I will show you a man who just can’t help making good.”
How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling, Frank Bettger
In order to appreciate Bettger, we need to understand more of his background. Frank Bettger was a contemporary of Dale Carnegie’s in the 1930’s and on occasion Carnegie actually asked Bettger to fill in for him as a speaker. That was quite an honor from a speaker of the stature of Dale Carnegie.
Frank Bettger had been a minor league baseball player. Eventually Bettger was injured and couldn’t play ball anymore, so he went to work in a factory. He hated his job and heard that salesmen make a good income, so he went to work for an insurance company.
Bettger failed so badly, and felt so low, that one night he went to the office to clean out his desk and quit. He did not want to be seen by anyone, that’s why he came in at night. To his surprise he ran into a sales meeting. He couldn’t clean out his desk in front of all those people, and so he stayed and listened.
In his book, How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success In Selling, Bettger said that the leader of the sales meeting was a very enthusiastic man, and he found that the speaker’s enthusiasm rubbed off on him. So he decided to give selling another try. Bettger’s first learning point in his book is, “If you want to be enthusiastic, you have to act enthusiastic.”
In the previous quote, he acknowledges that selling is a numbers game, and that it gets down to meeting the people every day.
There is a saying that goes like this. “You have to kiss a lot of frogs if you want to find a prince.” And if we ask enough people if they want to buy, someone will eventually say yes.
Once again, from How I Raised Myself From Failure or Success In Selling, Frank Bettger gives advice that is right on the money, literally.
“The most important secret of selling is to find out what the other fellow wants… When you show a man what he wants, he will move heaven and earth to get it”
In other words, align what we do best… with what they need most.
This should also be done in a way that sustains our energy and passion. If we find that we do not gain the energy from these transactions to sustain us, then either the customer is not our ideal customer, or we do not understand what we do best.
Our objective for “Win More” should be to produce a win-win situation.
When I reach this point in my workshop, I like to use a quote from Star Wars. When confronted with Luke Skywalker, Darth Vadar says, “Indeed you are powerful as the Emperor has foreseen.”
And when we align what we do best with the people who need it most, it is indeed very empowering.
Let’s look at strategies for increasing customer retention…
Moments of Truth
When Jan Carlzon took over Scandinavian Airlines, the airline was awash in red ink. This was long before it was “fashionable” in the airline industry. When other airlines were making money, SAS was really in bad shape.
In his book Moments of Truth, Carlzon reveals his discovery that it was not the highest paid employees that had the most influence on the customer, i.e. the pilots. It was the lowest paid employees. These were the people on the counter at the terminal. They knew that they were the lowest paid and didn’t feel good about their jobs. As a result, they treated the customers rudely and the customers voted with their dollars taking their business elsewhere.
When Carlzon discovered this was the root cause, he addressed it through improved training and compensation. The employees on the desk changed and went out of their way to serve the customer. As a result SAS was saved from financial ruin.
The bottom line is that if we strive to look after our customers they will notice it and look after us. Our ideal customers will definitely look after us.
Yes, there are some exceptions to the rule. It was Will Rogers who said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” But maybe Rogers never met the person that our employee is dealing with in that moment of truth. Some people can be challenging.
A soft answer can make all the difference. Just like the two people that Earl Nightingale talked about in Lead the Field. They changed their attitude and were amazed at how nice their customers had become all of a sudden.
Customer Relationship Management
As mentioned before, there is the Rule of Fives that says every customer that we alienate will tell five others that our product or service is bad. This does not mean that a salesperson will win five sales for every good customer, but it does mean that we will lose five sales opportunities for sure. And these five are prospects that we would have otherwise won!
Also, it costs about five times more to win a new customer as it does to retain one. Jay Levinson puts the cost of customer acquisition at six times the cost of retention. Whether it’s five or six times, the point is that having to replace customers is a major drain on profitability.
So how do we retain them? There are many systems and books on what is called “Customer Relationship Management,” or CRM. They all have one goal in common, treat customers better so they stay with us and our business volume grows.
Bob Berg, in his excellent book Endless Referrals points out that we do business with people that we know, like and trust. The idea behind CRM is to collect information which will help our business build those three things with our customers.
“All things being equal, people do business with people that they know, like and trust.” Endless Referrals, Bob Berg
Here are a few principles of CRM. See everything from the customer’s point of view. The more that we can see from their point of view the better we can serve them. Customer resistance to sales is fear. No one wants to be sold, but we do like to buy. If we try to see everything from their perspective then the more likely they are to listen to us.
They have a fear of being sold. It is normal and natural. The greater that they perceive an item’s cost the greater the resistance.
An example would be a $15 tool verses a $15,000 vehicle purchase. We think about the $15,000 vehicle purchase longer and in a different way than a low priced tool. Or, it could be a $15 tool verses a $15 box of cereal, where the relative cost is seen as very high for the value delivered. Ever go through a supermarket and buy something that’s a dime less based on price? It’s not that the money is the issue. It is that the perceived value was not there for the higher cost item.
What is our value? How do we define our value?
We start by making a value statement, or statements. These value statements should align with our business strategy and mission. What are our core competencies, what do we do best? What are our weaknesses? How to avoid our weakness and work on our strengths?
Years ago I read a story about an Asian table tennis player who had a remarkable talent for playing the game. When asked what his weakness was, he replied that if he focused on his backhand he did not do well. That was a weakness, but then he added “When I focus on my forehand I am invincible!”
So let’s focus on what we do best and avoid our weaknesses.
A Simple Thank You Card
In my workshop, I always tell attendees to send cards to customers as a way of keeping in touch. And yes, I do send cards to the attendees after the workshop.
We live in a world where speed is worshiped. Email is fast, easy to use and there are very few people that that do not type, so most of us use email.
The problem is that people can get so many emails a day that our message can get lost in the shuffle. In order to stand out, send a card. Unlike ordinary mail, cards will get opened.
One of the best systems that I have seen is SendOutCards, www.sendoutcards.com. SendOutCards is an easy to use system that combines the ease of email with the uniqueness of a greeting card. Select a card, type in the message, add our signature, which is stored in our own handwriting then send it. The card is sent through the mail with a stamp on the envelope. This is many times more effective at making the right impression than email or regular business letters.
Sending cards is fast to implement and doesn’t cost a lot. When we also consider the value of a customer to our company, sending cards bring additional business worth thousands of times the cost of a card.
For the U.S., sending Thanksgiving cards usually makes a greater impact than Christmas cards because so few people send Thanksgiving cards.
These cards are well received because Thanksgiving starts the holiday season and so the cards are put on display longer. If Christmas or Hanukkah cards are to be sent, then send them early so they can stand out from the flood of cards usually received.
Do we want a business relationship that will last with our customers and suppliers? As previously mentioned, it costs five times less to maintain a customer relationship than win one.
If we want the relationship to last,
we must make it a win-win relationship
For example, the CEO of a mid sized computer reseller told me the story of how his team brought him in to close the deal with a potentially large customer. He said his knees were shaking. It was just that important to him. It was a tough negotiation, and in the end he said “I will provide you a good product and a service at a very fair price. In return please permit me to make a fair profit.”
It was that win-win statement that closed the deal.
Most business people want the lowest price, but they also want relationships. To quote Bob Berg once again, people like to buy from people who they know, like and trust. And by offering a fair price at a fair profit, he showed that he could be trusted to keep the price competitive. Also, that he needed to make a profit to stay in business, and to continue to support his new customer.
Copyright © 2009 Keith Center