With any business, customers are the single most important thing to you and your company. If they have gone to the hard work of seeking you out and then made contact, or even if you have been the one to find them out and they have gone to the trouble of taking an interest and requested some more information – it’s crazy to think you wouldn’t try and give them the absolute best experience when dealing with your business. And yet, I’ll bet if you questioned ten of your most recent customers or leads, they would all have had different experiences to report, and in some cases may have chosen not to do business with you because of the customer service they received.
Now I’m sure you and your staff don’t believe you are going out of your way to upset your customers – so where’s the problem?
It’s all about giving your customers and leadsa thought out, consistent, attentive and efficient response throughout the whole process.
- Take too long to get back to them? – They’ll go somewhere else
- Don’t give accurate answers to their questions? – They’ll go elsewhere
- Make them repeat themselves when being passed between staff in your business? – They’ll go elsewhere
- Don’t make communicating with you easy? – They’ll go somewhere else
Essentially, if you make any part of dealing with you difficult for the customer – they will vote with their feet and go to an alternative supplier.
It’s even MORE important if that customer isn’t get buying from you and is simply a warm lead.
At the moment that potential customer is not only trying to find a company who can make the product(s) they are looking for, they are also subconsciously trying to find a company (and the staff members therein) which they can form a bond with and be happy to place orders with.
So how do you make sure you convert ALL of the customers ALL of the time?
I’ve put together a little list below with some pointers:
- Evaluate your staff and place the people with the best conversational manner, front and centre on the telephones or make them the first person your customer would meet at your reception or at a trade show.
First impressions count and if your potential customer feels at ease dealing with you straight off the bat – they will much more likely to take bad news such as a higher price or a longer lead time. Don’t worry if these staff members don’t quite have the right words in their sales pitch or may not know everything there is to know about the business – those are all experiences, skills and nuances which can be added as they go along – personality is key in converting your leads and keeping your customers.
- The right tools for consistency.
Every business relies on software at some stage to manage parts of its business – so why do you leave the sales enquiry process open for debate and open for different staff members to deal with different customers in different ways?
Sure every customer IS different and you do have to amend your approach to each one to suit their business, the contact’s personality and preferences, however in virtually all cases the end outcome would arrive at the same completed quotation/order.
This is where something such as Receta can help.
By enabling the “enquiry steps” within the software, your management can create and store a series of ticklist guidelines which they need every enquiry to go through. Each step can contain as much or as little guidance for the staff members as needed and is simply used as a guide by your sales team to ensure that every single enquiry is dealt with in the same way.
By storing a new enquiry in Receta, the enquiry steps become available for that enquiry and are used like a ticklist to show who and when a particular step was completed. A set can be a reminder to get something as simple as the customer name or more complex such as a series of questions to make sure the correct specification is gained from the customer for their new product.
This gives you a massive conversion advantage because you can be sure that all of the potential pitfalls of a new customers request can be catered for as you have already covered all of the nitty gritty requirements you have as a business which you need in place before you can provide a quotation/order.
And best of all , going back to Tip 1, it now doesn’t matter if you have someone at the front-end who is inexperienced but really good on the phone – as long as they follow the steps you’ve outlined in your enquiry steps – you will get the information you need and your customer will be happy to deal with you.
- Giving your customers the right information with a persuasive argument.
Don’t think for one second that your current perceived USP is the reason ALL of your customers choose to deal with you – it isn’t. It could be your turn-around times, the quality of your end product, your prices or your proximity to their business.
I’m here to tell you – it’s actually none of those and ALL of those at the same time. What’s actually holding it all together is the staff member they are dealing with while they place enquiries and orders with you.
As the old saying goes – people by from people, and it’s the staff members in your office who are currently getting you orders and converting your leads.
However your individual staff members may not be the best at selling, up-selling or cross-selling – so how do you stop missing out on those extras or stop not telling your customer about that killer price break they could achieve if they ordered just a little higher quantity?
Going back to Tip 2 – that becomes easy! As examples – Set an enquiry step to include the fact that you need for every quotation to include price breaks higher than the quantity requested by the customer. Set an enquiry step which says all quotations must include prices for other “linking” products which sell well together.By using the enquiry steps along with the right person at the end of the telephone you get the triple benefit of giving your customers the information they requested quickly, they get that information from a person who they have an affinity with are would be happy to buy from AND best of all –any up-selling or cross-selling will have been built into the quotation the customer received as a matter of course!
- Speed (or the perception of speed).
If a customer has to wait more than 24 hours for their costs to arrive in their inbox – they will likely move (or have moved) to an alternative supplier. In many cases your new customer will not have any kind of awareness or appreciation as to the nuances behind a nutraceutical product (formulation, ingredients, packaging etc) and will expect to simply pick-up the phone and get an instant price.
As a business if you have “off-the-shelf” standard products you offer – then you may be one of the lucky ones who can indeed provide an instant price – however I’m pretty confident that in many cases, that initial price gets amended by the requests the customer makes (change of formulation, packaging etc) – so in reality your ‘off-the-shelf’ products are not actually products at all – they are merely there as enticements to make your customers aware of the type of products you manufacture.
In either scenario, there will usually be a time-gap between the customer detailing their enquiry and the quotation arriving in their inbox.
Getting this quotation back to the customer in a timely manner is one of the key deciding factors a customer will use when choosing their supplier.
If you can get a quotation out to the customer the same day or within a few hours, you give yourself a huge advantage over a competitor who takes 48-72 hours to price a product(s).
So the question is – if both you and your competitors are pricing for the same enquiry and you both have to go through the same background exercises in order to calculate the prices you will sell at – how do you get the jump on your competitor?
It’s actually pretty straight-forward – it’s all about perception. If your turn-around time for the finished quotation is let’s say 48 hours. You may need to make sure you have all the information you need from the customer, you may run credit checks, you may need to converse with your suppliers to get pricing, you may need to converse with the customer several times to get the specification correct for their product etc. All of these take time and it’s time you don’t have when it comes to getting information back to your customer.
To bridge that gap between enquiry to quotation time you can use communication via telephone and additional documentation to give the customer the perception that the gap isn’t quite as large as it really is.
Example – If you already have all the information you need from the customer, then tell them that a quotation will be with them soon and then you don’t hear anything else until you send the quotation (typically days later) – what do you think your customer is doing in that gap of time?
You can bet they aren’t simply waiting around to get your pricing – they will be shopping for alternative suppliers!
To lessen this, you need to communicate with your customer about their enquiry – it sounds simple but I bet you don’t currently do it (at least consistently)
If you’re waiting for a supplier to get back to you – tell them!
If you’re waiting for a manager to sign-off on the pricing – tell them!
Whatever the delay is at your end which is stopping you from fulfilling the request of the customer – if you tell the customer – they will feel part of the process and much more willing to wait a little longer as opposed to giving you their enquiry and then not hearing anything else for more than a day!
- Make it super easy for your customers to deal with you
If you customer finds it hard to deal with you as a company – even if you have a better price than your competitors – there will be a time when the frustration of getting what they want from you becomes too much and they move away.
Understand the typical questions you get asked and the typical pieces of information you need for every enquiry.
For the typical questions – Create a ‘cheat-sheet’ of typical questions and answers and distribute it to your staff so they have the answers your customers need right in front of them at all times.
For the typical pieces of information – Add these to your enquiry steps so your staff ask the right questions of the customer at the correct time.
If dealing with you as a supplier is easy for your customers they will find it easy to say “Yes” when placing their order.