Best Business Advice
Advice: Invite the customer to return
Book: "The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business" (Vantage Point Books, 2012)
Author: Richard Shapiro
Most companies fail to conclude any customer interaction with "The Leave-Behind." At the end of every customer encounter, whether it’s face-to-face, phone or ecommerce, a company associate should invite the customer to return. Employees could say, for example, "Mr. Smith, I really enjoyed waiting on you today. I would like to personally assist you again. Let me give you my name, my hours and my direct line or email. Let me know when you are in the area again, or need assistance over the phone." The best way to secure repeat customers is to have one frontline associate build a relationship with one customer. People appreciate when you refer to them by name, which shouldn't be difficult since in almost any encounter, the associate knows the name either by looking at a credit card or at their account records. Ending the conversation with "I really appreciate your business, Mr. Smith, and have a great day!" can clearly differentiate your company from your competitors.
Advice: Embrace unhappy customers
Book: "Empowerment: A Way of Life" (Best Sellers Publishing, 2010)
Author: John Tschohl
Customers who have complaints are a blessing in disguise. They are letting you know where you and your organization have flaws and are providing you with the opportunity to correct them. Make sure you listen carefully and with interest to what the customer is telling you. Apologize without laying blame, regardless of who is at fault. Put yourself in the customer's place, and respond in a way that shows you care about his or her concerns. Use phrases such as “I understand that must be upset” or “I don’t blame you for being upset; I would feel the same way.” Ask pertinent questions in a caring, concerned manner, and suggest one or more solutions that would address the customer’s concerns quickly and efficiently. When you successfully handle irate customers and their complaints, you will be rewarded with a satisfied customer who will be loyal to you and your organization.
Advice: Don't let your managers kill employee enthusiasm
Book: "Retail Truths: The Unconventional Wisdom of Retailing" (ABB Press, 2012)
Author: Chip Averwater
Managers don’t create motivation — but they can kill it. New employees are excited about their jobs. They’re eager to learn their parts, hone their knowledge and skills, make their contributions and become valuable team members. Managers don't create that motivation; employees have it on their first day. A good manager needs only explain the objectives to them, assure that they get the necessary training and tools, provide ongoing information and feedback, and recognize and respect their efforts and contributions. When he does that well, employees' enthusiasm and commitment build with their abilities, and they’re able to play increasingly important roles.
Advice: Let your sales people sell
Book: "Nuts and Bolts of Sales Management: How to Build a High Velocity Sales Organization" (Emerald Book Co., 2011)
Author: John R. Treace
Here is a simple way to increase sales while not incurring additional costs. Review your sales process and remove any task placed on the sales team that does not directly relate to making a sale. If, for instance, you can remove paperwork that takes up 5 percent of a sales team’s time to complete, you have effectively increased the number of feet on the ground by the same percent and at no additional cost. These tasks often originate as requests from other departments. They may seem harmless at the time but the effort to complete them will detract from sales; and they should be resisted by sales management.
Advice: Everyday employees can achieve great things
Author: Guy L. Smith
I believe ordinary, accomplished people in organizations, often those in middle management, can achieve the impossible. My team has spent the last 10 years striving for the impossible and making it a reality, proving it is not always the Nobel laureates or Apollo 13 astronauts who have the power to impact real change. By following a few simple guidelines, anyone can achieve the impossible. I call them the Seven Guideposts to Achieving the Impossible: Believe in yourself; believe in the mission; be willing to change the rules of the game; have the humility to ask for and use help; focus all available assets against a single objective; have the tenacity to relentlessly, tirelessly persist; and, use your knowledge, skills, experience and training. Once you eliminate the personal beliefs and social pressures standing in your way, you are free to redefine what is possible. That's when even the impossible becomes possible.
Advice: Focus on agility
Book: "Wheel$pin: The Agile Executive's Manifesto: Accelerate Your Growth, Leverage Your Value, Beat Your Competition" (No Limit Publishing, 2011)
Author: Mike Richardson
In business, we used to say that "cash is king." Not anymore. Agility is king and cash is just a way of keeping score! Agility is the ability to deal with rapidly changing circumstances while out-executing our competition and stakeholder expectations. Executive agility is the bottom-line differentiator of managers, executives and CEOs from their peers. Team agility differentiates functions, departments or business units from their peers, as those that seem to execute more proficiently, adaptively and dependably in a team context. Organizational agility differentiates businesses from their peers, as the competitor in customer markets and/or financial market that stands out as the better bet. Agility is complicated, easily misunderstood and commonly over simplified.
Advice: Know what your customers value
Book: "Relevant Selling: Research Proves Customers Value More Than Just Price" (Executive Suite Press, 2012)
Author: Jaynie L. Smith
Avoid price pressure by delivering what your customers want most. Research proves less than 10 percent of companies actually know what their customers value, so they end up commoditizing themselves. Be sure to tout your competitive advantages in a way that is credible, using historic metrics. Say, “For the last three years, we have 98.3 percent on time delivery.” Do not say, “We will deliver on time.” It’s merely a promise. But above all else, don’t try selling what isn’t relevant. If your customer cares more about service support and invoice accuracy than your on-time delivery stats, discuss them. Be aware that prospects and customers buy for different reasons, know those reasons and tailor your sales and marketing messages appropriately. Invest in solid “voice of the customer” research to determine what is most valued in the buying decision of each target market. It will pay dividends in increased close ratios and margin protection. Remember, a differentiator is not a competitive advantage if it is not relevant.