Ashley Collins discusses Building Customer Relationships

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Barbara Gabogrecan
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Ashley Collins discusses Building Customer Relationships

Postby Barbara Gabogrecan » Sun Aug 05, 2012 2:58 pm

ImageIt is a pleasure to welcome Ashley Collins to this Forum. He is discussing the topic of 'The 5 keys to Building and Maintaining Long Term Customer Relationships'. Ashley works with sales people to develop their sales techniques, improve their communication skills and work more efficiently so that they can substantially increase their income.

Ashley says "We all know that without customers, our business won’t survive. In order for you to convert prospects into customers, you need to build relationships with them". As everyone in business is actually a sales person, all business owner/operators should find the information Ashley shares with us to be particularly valuable and re;evant.

I am certainly looking forward to learning more about how tp best look after my customers and how to build relationships that can lead to more sales for my business.
Barbara
Barbara Gabogrecan assists HBB's to market their business online
http://www.HomeBasedBusinessAustralia.org

Barbara is an artist specialising in silk painting; her video is on page one of You Tube http://youtu.be/1ZA9HObN_Go
http://www.SilkPaintingByGabogrecan.com/

Having survived a stroke and a brain tumour, Barbara wrote a book titled 'Thank God I Had a Stroke' to motivate and inspire others suffering from similar afflictions.
http://GabogrecanStrokeRecovery.com/
Barbara Gabogrecan
 
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Re: Ashley Collins discusses Building Customer Relationships

Postby Ashley Collins » Mon Aug 06, 2012 12:13 pm

Thanks Barbara for inviting me to share about the 5 R’s of Customer Relationships. More than any other factor, the quality of your relationships with your customers will determine your business' success.

The first "R" is Rapport, because if you don’t create rapport, you don’t have a relationship, and you certainly won’t have a customer.
Most of us know how to create rapport, if we think about it. The problem is that many people don’t specifically think about this simple and loyalty winning method.

Here are a few tips for creating rapport with customers;
• Handshake: sounds simple, but I would say most if not all tradespeople who have come into our home have not offered my wife a handshake. Along with the handshake is the opportunity to restate you name and the customer usually reciprocates by offering theirs. Immediately you have moved from stranger to acquaintance and are granted permission to use their name.
• Listening when they are talking: your primary goal with customers is to understand them and to have your customer feel that you understand them. The best way to achieve this is through listening. We will talk more about this later this week.
• Making eye contact; It is in eye contact that we can pick up on many non-verbal cues. Customers may interpret a lack of eye contact as dishonesty
• Maintaining a high standard of personal presentation. Every time you prepare to meet a new customer, or even an old customer, you should prepare as if it were a job interview. It’s not appropriate for everyone to wear a suit, but if you are dealing with customers, you should be clean, have brushed hair, clean teeth & nails. My number one peeve is business people who have a bad breath. It doesn’t cost much to buy a peppermint. How much nicer is it to leave a positive lasting impression.

Whilst creating and maintaining rapport is not rocket science, it is often neglected. So this presents you with an opportunity to stand out from the competition.

Creating rapport is easier face-to-face, so where possible make the effort to meet especially in the earlier stages of a customer relationship. If as a home based business, your customers are too far away from you, consider how modern technology may provide new ways to create rapport. As well as adding a video on your website (thanks Damian for your tips last week), also consider using Skype to conduct meetings or sending Eyejot video messages instead of emails.

Here are some questions to think how are you going to create and maintain rapport:
• What boundaries / expectations are important for you to set in the relationship?
• What boundaries / expectations do they have in the relationship? Can you work with these?
• How are you going to ensure you deliver to / manage these expectations? If you feel that they have unrealistic expectations, it may be better to refer them to another supplier.

It would be great to hear how you go about building rapport in your home based business.
Ashley Collins
Sales Coach
Driving Force Australia
http://www.drivingforce.com.au/hbba
Ashley Collins
 
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Location: Melbourne

Re: Ashley Collins discusses Building Customer Relationships

Postby Barbara Gabogrecan » Tue Aug 07, 2012 7:02 am

Hi Ashley, you comment on handshakes brought back to me a very real incident. Some years ago I had to find a solicitor. One was recommended to me by another business associate. I went to meet with him and we shook hands. It was like shaking hands with a dead fish...I can still visualise this limp nearly non existant shake. When we were to leave, we repeated the proicess. Nothing changed, I still was offered this yukky hand shake.

Maybe I over-reacted, but there was no way I could have this man as my solicitor, Regardless of how good a solicitor he was, I could not see myself respeciting him or relating to him - all because of his handshake! This is a true story!!!!

One question - you mentioned tradesmen coming to your door and not shaking hands. Do you offer your hand or do you think they should offer their hand first? I wonder if some tradesmen are worried that their hands may not be clean enough or that they are being too presumptuous if they were to offer their hand. Your thoughts?
Barb
Barbara Gabogrecan assists HBB's to market their business online
http://www.HomeBasedBusinessAustralia.org

Barbara is an artist specialising in silk painting; her video is on page one of You Tube http://youtu.be/1ZA9HObN_Go
http://www.SilkPaintingByGabogrecan.com/

Having survived a stroke and a brain tumour, Barbara wrote a book titled 'Thank God I Had a Stroke' to motivate and inspire others suffering from similar afflictions.
http://GabogrecanStrokeRecovery.com/
Barbara Gabogrecan
 
Posts: 341
Joined: Sun May 03, 2009 12:57 pm

Re: Ashley Collins discusses Building Customer Relationships

Postby Ashley Collins » Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:38 am

Thanks Barb for your story about the solicitor with the "dead fish" handshake. Most of us have met someone like that solicitor. The limp handshake does not inspire us to deal with that person as we may perceive them weak and not possessing any drive.

The amazing thing about rapport is it happens subconsciously and the first few minutes with a new prospect can lead or break rapport with that person. If you break rapport, such as the case with the solicitor, it is very difficult to restore it. The one customer that you lose could be the one big client that got away. It is very important when meeting new prospects that you arrive on time, be well presented, show a genuine interest in them and do what you say you are going to do - this all works to building rapport with that person, and hopefully over time you will have a long-term relationship with this customer based on trust.

The question about shaking hands Barb is a good one. To avoid the below scenario I believe we should all take lessons and practice shaking hands. Another point of interest to me is that I will not offer my hand to a lady unless she offers it to me first, unless I am dealing with them in a business sense. There is some confusion out there about the protocols of shaking hands and it can sometimes lead to awkward moments; my recommendation is to be sensitive to the moment.

The message to you tradies out there is to make sure your hands are clean when going to a new job. Have a packet of hand wipes in the car and use them if you are unable to wash your hands.
Ashley Collins
Sales Coach
Driving Force Australia
http://www.drivingforce.com.au/hbba
Ashley Collins
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:00 am
Location: Melbourne

Re: Ashley Collins discusses Building Customer Relationships

Postby Ashley Collins » Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:04 pm

The 2nd R of Customer Relationships is for Reading your customers. The purpose of reading the customer is to understand more about them and how you can help them. There are two components to reading a customer;
• Asking good questions (which we will cover on today) and
• Developing your active listening skills (which we will discuss tomorrow).

Why ask questions?
The easiest way to stand out from your competition is to show a genuine interest in your customers by asking good questions. Good questions will help you:
 Gain a better understanding of your customer
 Determine their needs or problems to be addressed (both explicit and unexpressed)
 Identify opportunities
 Find out what excites them and uncover customer’s Hot Buttons
 Better tailor your presentation, for when it is your turn to talk
 Earn the right to present your solution.

Asking good questions
There are two broad types of questions. Closed questions evoke only one word or simple answers, such as yes or no. These are appropriate for confirming your understanding.

The best kind of questions to ask when first dealing with a prospect are “open-ended questions”. As the name suggests, open ended questions prompt the respondent to open up and provide a more narrative response. Open-ended questions usually start with the words how, where, when, what, who, why. Some typical open-ended questions you might ask include:
“What are you looking for?”
“What have you used in the past and how did you find it?”
“What things did you like about it?”
“How did you hear about us?”
“How do you plan to use it” etc.

It is surprising how much more information you can uncover if you ask good questions. The more sophisticated your product/service/sales process, the more important it is that you build your list of common questions you need to cover when developing your relationship with your customer.

Design a set of open ended questions that will help you:
• Understand your customer’s expectations
• Assess whether you can help them
• Determine how you can best demonstrate this to them

Having asked good questions, then you need to listen for the answers. We will discuss this tomorrow.
Ashley Collins
Sales Coach
Driving Force Australia
http://www.drivingforce.com.au/hbba
Ashley Collins
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:00 am
Location: Melbourne

Re: Ashley Collins discusses Building Customer Relationships

Postby Greg Chapman » Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:55 pm

My best customer service story was the contrast I saw between staff of the same removals company when we were moving from the US to the UK. Talk about cultural differences!
http://blog.australiansmallbusiness.net.au/2008/07/customer-service-and-having-nice-day.html
Regards

Greg Chapman
http://www.empowersolutions.com.au
May Your Business Be - As You Plan It!

Dr Greg Chapman - The Profit Whisperer
http://www.empowersolutions.com.au

Author of Married to the Business: Honey I love you but our business sucks http://www.MarriedtotheBusiness.com.au

The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success http://www.FivePillarsBusinessSuccess.com

Price: How to Charge More Without Losing Sales http://www.IncreaseYourPrices.com.au
Greg Chapman
 
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Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Ashley Collins discusses Building Customer Relationships

Postby Barbara Gabogrecan » Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:08 am

Greg - what a fantastic post in your blog re the UK and USA! It really soes show that creating relationships with customers can make more sales through referrals (or less in the case if the UK)! I just loved your comment "I preferred to be told: “Have a nice day” by someone that doesn’t mean it, than to be told; “Sod Off!” by someone who does." Barb
Barbara Gabogrecan assists HBB's to market their business online
http://www.HomeBasedBusinessAustralia.org

Barbara is an artist specialising in silk painting; her video is on page one of You Tube http://youtu.be/1ZA9HObN_Go
http://www.SilkPaintingByGabogrecan.com/

Having survived a stroke and a brain tumour, Barbara wrote a book titled 'Thank God I Had a Stroke' to motivate and inspire others suffering from similar afflictions.
http://GabogrecanStrokeRecovery.com/
Barbara Gabogrecan
 
Posts: 341
Joined: Sun May 03, 2009 12:57 pm

Re: Ashley Collins discusses Building Customer Relationships

Postby Ashley Collins » Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:21 am

Thanks Greg for your comment. The important thing to note is it does not take much more time or energy (if any at all) to offer an excellent service with a good attitude as shown by the American removalist team. However, the downside is that people will happily tell many others (particularly with the advent of social media) of their negative experiences. It can cost many 000's of dollars and take many years to create a good reputation only to have it crash down overnight - Australian Olympic rower Josh Booth knows this only too well.
Ashley Collins
Sales Coach
Driving Force Australia
http://www.drivingforce.com.au/hbba
Ashley Collins
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:00 am
Location: Melbourne

Re: Ashley Collins discusses Building Customer Relationships

Postby Peter O'Connor » Wed Aug 08, 2012 11:16 am

Ashley, you make a lot of sense to me. Maybe I am a bit old school, but I believe presentation is the key to making a good first impression. It probably sounds a bit silly to some, but everyone should know when to offer their hand, particularly with women. Some men do go to the extreme. I had a client once who's handshake was like King Kong's. It seemed as though he thought if he could crush your hand, then he was the 'top dog'. He also had eye contact that would make you shrivel and the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. Once you got to know him though, he was quite a nice guy, but totally ruthless when it came to business.

I guess, as in most things in life, moderation is the key. I always make sure my hands are dry when I shake someones hand. There is nothing worse that grabbing a 'wet dishcloth' hand to shake.
Peter O'Connor, is a retired accountant and is involved with teaching home based businesses how to build and manage their own websites.
http://www.HomeBasedBusinessAustralia.org
Peter O'Connor
 
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Re: Ashley Collins discusses Building Customer Relationships

Postby Ashley Collins » Wed Aug 08, 2012 1:01 pm

The 2nd R of Customer Relationships is to Read your customers. Yesterday we discussed asking good questions and today we are looking at “active” listening skills. There is no point asking good questions unless you are going to listen to the customer’s answers.

Listening is a great way to building relationships. Any parent of young children will understand the difference between hearing and listening. To listen you need to consciously attend to the other person. In some cases you may need to block out distractions of background noise or activities happening around you. Whilst listening to the other person takes time, it has immediate and long-term benefits.

Active listening means that you are not just listening to what they saying, but how they say it. This is referred to as non-verbal communication and includes their tone, the words they choose and in some cases what they are not saying. If you are face-to-face you are also reading cues they may give such as body language, their facial expressions, gestures etc.

You are listening to learn.
Using the widest interpretation of the word “listening, this tables provides an example of what you are aiming to learn from your prospect.

What you are listening for: What you are wanting to learn
Past experiences: Their current level of product knowledge, features the already understand and what they may need you to explain later, what features may appeal to them, current biases, concerns and expectations.
Emotions & motivations: Their reason for wanting to buy, desires, preferences, expectations, hopes, concerns, fears, priorities,
Hot buttons: (underlying fears/desires Needs/fears which must be addressed): Benefits that excite them, factors that are likely to sway their purchase decision
Their behavioural style: (Are they formal or relaxed, task or relationship focused?): How they prefer to be treated

Although I have discussed asking good questions and listening separately, they do of course happen simultaneously. In listening to the prospects answers, you can drill down deeper by asking a series of linking questions. Each question demonstrates that you were listening to their previous answer.

Take for instance the scenario in which a prospect tells the salesperson they need a new washing machine, because their current one has died.
Salesperson: “What brand of washing machine do you currently have?”
Prospect: “A Simpson.”
Salesperson: “How did you find it?”
Prospect: “It was very good.”
Salesperson; “What did you like about it?” etc.


Linking questions are particularly helpful for uncovering hot buttons.

As well as listening at the initial stages of engagement, as a business you also need to be listening to customers on an ongoing basis. We will discuss how you gather feedback from customers and what do you do about it later this week.

For now let’s consider where you store the information you gather. Is it all in your head, or do you keep notes in a customer file or do you use a Customer Relationship Management tool? We use ACT! as our CRM so that everyone in our business can access what we have learnt about our prospects and customers. In this we record all our interactions with the customer and notes of importance that might feed into a proposal or remind us of their specific objectives and particular expectations.

What you hear and what you have learnt about the prospect, will then equip your to respond more effectively – which we will discuss tomorrow.
Last edited by Ashley Collins on Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:14 am, edited 6 times in total.
Ashley Collins
Sales Coach
Driving Force Australia
http://www.drivingforce.com.au/hbba
Ashley Collins
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:00 am
Location: Melbourne

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