Ashley Collins discusses Building Customer Relationships

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Barbara Gabogrecan
President

Re: Ashley Collins discusses Building Customer Relationships

Postby Barbara Gabogrecan » Wed Aug 08, 2012 1:55 pm

There is a lot of hype about how to use social media to build relationships - but I generally find it does not work as well for business as it does for personal communication. I actually find that LinkedIn is one of the best for general business and wondered what you thought Ashley?

To build relationships through LinkedIn, I do the following:-
* pick a selection from my list of contacts (usually by industry)
* check out their profiles
* write each of them a short comment where I say something positive about what I have read
* the next communication I ask them a question
* I respond to their answer to my question
* I invite them to take part in something I am involved in e.g. the Forum where I can
* offer them some promotion (links to their blog etc) if they decide to participate

And so the relationship begins. I certainly do not offer them anything they have to purchase or pay for and I have had a great response with this approach. I see this as 'Attraction Marketing' where I remain in their 'top of mind awareness' for when they do want to purchase from me.

I have recently joined an online network of silk artists too and they have over 800 members. I have now commenced going through the membership list, looking at the art work displayed, making a comment (some of their work is absolutely extraordinary) and becoming their 'friend'. After only three days I am getting postive feedback, am being asked questions and they are offering to be involved in my silk painting website. Howzat!

I would love you to tell me if there are any steps I am missing - I am always keen to learn a new approach.
Cheers
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
 
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Re: Ashley Collins discusses Building Customer Relationships

Postby Claire McFee » Wed Aug 08, 2012 3:05 pm

Thanks for your insights Ashley,
Providing good customer service - apart from being the right way to do business - results in way more great testimonials than you would otherwise get.
I love getting testimonials. I love helping people. When they show their appreciation it it makes all my efforts worthwhile.
Claire McFee
http://www.organizeyourlife.com.au
http://www.facebook.com/organizeyourlife.com.au
Claire McFee
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:14 pm

Re: Ashley Collins discusses Building Customer Relationships

Postby Barbara Gabogrecan » Wed Aug 08, 2012 3:17 pm

Hi Ashley - I just had to make a comment on the 'Customer Relationship Manager' - even though I don't use this terminology - I call it my data base. I, too, use ACT and really do get a lot out of it. When I speak to members who use an email device or Excel as their data base, I shudder. Neither can really offer everything that ACT can and perhaps it is 'all in a name'. Instead of calling it a data base (as I do) if the correct name of 'Customer Relationship Manager' was used, folk might better understand why they should use something like ACT - it just does so much more than a simple data base (especially when keeping a check on all activities relating to your contacts).
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 3:32 pm

We have found LinkedIn is a great tool for social networking on a professional level. We have used it in a range of ways. I think the steps you outlined Barb are good for maintaining rapport with your current connections. You can also use "InMail" to contact people you are not yet connected with, but would like to be. We have also used the paid advertising on LinkedIn and find that this is very economical given how well you can segment the target audience.

This also feeds into Claire's comment. It is always great to hear from someone who is passionate about what they do and helping others, Claire. You are so right about the value of building good customer relationships in creating testimonials. If you are connected with these customers on LinkedIn, you can send them a request for a recommendation which will then be listed as part of your profile. I have only just started doing this, but it certainly adds credibility.
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 » Wed Aug 08, 2012 5:57 pm

Thanks Peter for your comment on the "KIng Kong" handshake where somebody tries to exert their influence over you. We all remember the then Labour Leader Mark Latham's famous handshake with John Howard before being thrashed in the polls the following weekend.
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 » Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:16 am

Now that you have started creating rapport, asked good questions and actively listened to the prospect; you have now earned the right to present you company’s product/service or to Respond. This is the 4th "R" of customer relationships. The information gained from reading your customer, will help you know how best to respond. Today we will discuss crafting the content of your response and tomorrow, the style of your response.

By tailoring the content of your presentation to their needs/wants you are more likely to make a sale. In order to do this, it is important to understand the difference between a feature and a benefit.
 A feature is a physical or tangible characteristic of your product/service (such as we are open 24/7). Features are facts, not opinions.
 A benefit explains an advantage of a feature to the customer (so you can contact us at whenever you need to, no matter what time of the day or night). It is possible for one feature to have many benefits.

Your role is to translate the features of your product/service into benefits that will appeal to the prospect, based on what you have learnt about them. There is little point explaining features that don’t interest your prospect. When talking with your prospect about your product/service; ask yourself “what’s in it for them” to take on your product/service. Then you need to express this in terms that they have already told you are important to them.

When conducting sales training I am surprised how many sales people are unable to distinguishing between features and benefits. So we often work on developing benefit statements. You can practice benefits statements by using this formula:

“Our product/service includes (insert feature) so that (insert the benefits to customer)”

Then, when you deal with a prospect, you are already cued with the applicable benefits (that you can choose from) that appeal to your prospect’s situation. Once you have developed your benefit statements, you can include these on your website, in your marketing materials and in your proposals.

Going one step further, it is important to know your marketplace well, so you can clearly articulate what sets you apart from your competition. This is called your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) and answers the prospects question “Why should I choose you/your product/service?”

If you provide superior service/products, reliable delivery etc. you should be ready to give this explanation when a prospect is considering using your competition or questioning your fees. In my experience, most customers are willing to pay more for a product/service if they understand the added benefits of the product/service. Price is usually only an issue when prospect believe that all providers offer the same quality of products/services. To maintain profitability and to avoid price wars; you need to communicate your UVP’s to your prospect.

Tomorrow we will discuss the style of your response.
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 Barbara Gabogrecan » Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:34 pm

Ashley, I am going to Sydney tomorrow (Friday) but will look forward to catching up on your great posts on my return. I have maid it a point when I have a break (3 days this time) that I do not use email, internet or phones for any possible business contact. This way, I really do get a rest and feel so much better. Now is that 'not caring about my customers'?'
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 » Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:49 pm

Great to hear you are having a well-earned break Barb.
Looking forward to speaking to you when you get back - refreshed and ready to provide the excellent service and care to your customers that is what makes Barbara Gabogrecan special.
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 » Fri Aug 10, 2012 3:29 pm

Today we continue discussing the 3rd R of Customer Relationships – Responding to customers. Responding could also be called “the art of maintaining rapport”. It is important to think of it this way, because “people like dealing with people they like”. So in responding, you need to think about what you have learnt from this customer, what cues they have given to let you know how they prefer to be treated.

Yesterday we started the discussion by looking at the content of your response; what you should include. Today we will discuss the style of your response.
There are many factors that should be considered to determine the most appropriate way to respond, but some rules apply every time:

1. Always be more courteous than they are. Even if the customer is rude, your ability to maintain professionalism and be polite will help them adjust their behaviour. “A kind word turns away wrath.”

2. Respond in a timely way. I can’t believe how many times I call businesses and they don’t return my calls. They are obviously so successful they don’t want any more business. If someone leaves a message to make contact with you, then you should attempt to contact him or her as soon as possible, at the most within one business day. If you follow up quickly you will stand out from the competition. If you don’t follow me up, when I am a prospect, it makes me concerned what attention you will give me as a customer - I won’t ever know because I will be looking elsewhere.

Being on time for appointments is also a given. Always allow adequate time for travel to appointments. It is important to factor in delays in traffic which are commonplace nowadays.

3. Do what you say you will do. This sounds so simple, but really it is a breath of fresh air when I don’t have to chase things up. We recently had a utilities company make an error on our bill and we have chased them for hours over several months to sort it out. If you do what you say you will do - you will stand out from the crowd.

4. In structuring your response you need to take a long-term perspective to the relationship. I approach every interaction with my customers, as if they are determining whether they will deal with me again. If you were the customer and someone responded the way you are responding, do you think that their approach is going to increase your loyalty, leave you unmoved or turn you off?

How can you change the way you responded to ensure that every customer interaction leaves them impressed and wanting to do business with you again, maybe even tell their friends/colleagues about you?

The important concept here is the lifetime value of a customer. This is the total revenue they will bring to your business across their entire relationship with you. For example rather than a petrol station viewing each customer as being worth $60 for their one-off purchase, they treat them according to their lifetime value, which is equivalent to $31,000. How did I get that?

To calculate the lifetime value of your customers, you only need the average transaction per client / per year and current average length of time you retain customers. So using the petrol station example, $60 each week x 52 weeks X (estimated) 10 year= $31,000. You can increase the lifetime value by increasing the average transaction value, the average transactions per year and/or the retention rate of customers. Putting priority on the way you relate to customers will increase your conversion and retention rates.

Taking a long-term perspective means asking yourself “if this person is choosing to spend $31,000, would the way that I am interacting with them, want them to choose to spend it with me?”

As well as these general principles in how to respond to you prospects/customers, there should also be some consideration given to the individuals’ preferences. We will discuss these briefly 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 Ashley Collins » Sat Aug 11, 2012 11:49 am

The way you respond to your customers will directly impact their loyalty. So I have decided to spend another day discussing the 3rd R of Customer Relationships – how you Respond to customers. In the last two days we discussed the content of your response and the general principles that apply to the style of your response.

Today we will consider how you can adjust your style and your service delivery to better appeal to their individual preferences. The way you respond will either build or detract from the rapport you have built with your prospect / customer.

In my one day “Relate Well and Sell” workshop, I train participants how to read and respond to customers’ different preferences, or buying styles. So I am only going to discuss this in a very simplistic way today. One of the easiest ways to distinguish between customer preferences is whether the customer appear to be more task focused or relationship focused. Remember we looked for this preference when we "read" our customer.

How to identify a “task focused” customer
Task oriented don’t mince words or talk fluff; they get to the point. They tend to focus on results and specifics i.e. when it will be available, how much does it cost etc.
They are looking for a successful transaction with you as the seller. They like efficiency and are less likely to want a deeper relationship with you than that.

How to identify a “relationship focused” customer
On the other hand, relationship focused customers will put priority in building the relationship. They are more focused on the benefits and seek your advice on their purchase decision. They are willing to invest time getting to know you and therefore appreciate you showing the same interest in them.

How to respond to a “task focused” customer
 Be well prepared
 Ask good questions
 Provide new information
 Respond quickly
 Be efficient in transactions
 Minimise face-to-face contact and limit any discussions not specifically related to the transaction.
 You need to be more sensitive to their cues

How to respond to a “relationship focused” customer
 Show interest in them
 Be prepared to discuss options
 Use open-ended questions
 Customise presentations and offers
 Provide regular progress updates
 Meet face-to-face more often

As sales coach, one of the common problems I find with sales people is that they focus on themselves i.e. what they are going to get out of this transaction. My recommendation is to put your focus on the prospect/customer and determine how you can add value to the relationship and best meet their needs/wants.

Once you determine how your prospect/customer wants to be treated, then you can focus on how you can adapt your selling style to suit. I find it very helpful to review how a meeting went immediately afterwards. It is good to look at what you did well and look at ways to improvement for next time.

Always look for opportunities for self-development. This will increase your self-awareness and as a result make it easier for you to adjust to different customers.

As a final tip, in responding to customers, it is also good to seek feedback. This can be done immediately if it feels like things are not going to plan. It is better to say “I am feeling like this isn’t going well, how could I make it better” than pretend you haven’t noticed and find things go worse. Even if they are happy, regularly check in with your customers to ensure they are satisfied with your product/service delivery, either informally over a coffee or send out a survey to your customer base.
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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