Sales

Question Transformation 0

Roger Schank wrote a book, The Creative Attitude: Learning to Ask and Answer the Right Questions: a few years ago that still is one of the better books that I have found on asking the right questions. From an Amazon review, “He describes how we think unconsciously using scripts. It is when this script fails do we consciously start to think. He calls this an anomaly. It is by asking questions and using “remindings” as inputs to questions that we can develop creative solutions to these anomalies. Anomalies + Explanations = Creative Thought.”

I re-visited the book recently to create a template on how to use the results of open-ended questions, we all ask them, into meaningful dialogue. In the process, I updated my mind-map on the book and thought I would share it. I spent most of my time in the area of question transformation.

Creative Attitude

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Are Your Sales People Asking Disruptive Questions? 0

We have all heard of disruptive innovation, but just in case or if you need a quick overview from the creator:

Disruptive innovation, a term of art coined by Clayton Christensen, describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors. – See more at: http://www.claytonchristensen.com/key-concepts/#sthash.hJDd3P5u.dpuf

An open-ended question is one that encourages a person to volunteer more information. On the other hand, a closed-ended question can be answered with a simple yes or no response. We instruct, encourage and practice this form of questioning with our salesperson. It is the way we learn about the other influencers in the decision process, competitors and their pains and gains. It is the foremost weapon in a salesperson’s arsenal. Question

We always want to lead with questions to understand the customer’s pains and gains. Through that questioning, we find ways to deliver our product and service to satisfy those pains and gains. We do this by constructing a value proposition or value statement that resonates with our client. It is a simple process, but it is not easy either. The reason is because someone else might be able to construct a stronger value proposition.

Is the value proposition a red ocean strategy? Can we differentiate ourselves through a value proposition? Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in developing  solid value propositions and even drilling down with them to market segments. I even go further to develop value statements that can be used in finer tuning segments reaching further into tactical usages.

What if we were able to make a disruptive question? One that stopped a prospect in their tracks. One that appealed so directly to that individual market segment that it left you alone in the solution, in a Blue Ocean? Most companies according to the “Disruptive Innovation”theory end up producing products that are too sophisticated or expensive for a given market. I may take that a step further, and they say that they lose sight of those individual markets by generalization of their topics or their focusing questions.

A disruptive question will require you to know your customer well. It may require you to know your customer’s customer well. Can you remember the last time a salesperson asked you a question that made you stop and think?

 

What is our

Make Your Company Indispensable Mind Map 0

A few years ago Joe Calloway wrote a book, Indispensable: How To Become The Company That Your Customers Can’t Live Without, that intrigued me. I made a mind map of the process and still take a few nuggets from it each time I review it.  The best reminder in the entire map is one of those Obvious Overlooked items; You had me at hello. I always wondered how many deals I have lost when I did not know when it was time to keep quiet.

Indispensable

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Lean Engagement Team (More Info): The ability to share and create knowledge with your customer is the strongest marketing tool possible.

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Quality People and Customer Experience 0

John Goodman has managed more than 1,000 separate customer service studies, including the White House sponsored evaluation of complaint handling practices in government and business and studies of word of mouth and the bottom-line impact of consumer education sponsored by Coca-Cola USA. John’s new book, Customer Experience 3.0: High-Profit Strategies in the Age of Techno Service takes John’s Customer Service expertise and puts it into a digital context.

Related Podcast and Transcription: What People Really Buy

Joe: We’ve met through ASQ that I find that it’s interesting because most quality people are very removed somewhat to the Customer Experience except dealing with the problem that gets fed back to them. I think Risk Management. Customer Experience is a huge risk, isn’t it? I mean you got to do it, right?

John Goodman: Oh, absolutely and, in fact, I recently had a consumer package goods company, where I had fed back some of the data and some quotes from customers and the quality guys in the manufacturing plant said, “Oh, we’ve never had this kind of information before.” I made the case to the head of Customer Insights and Customer Service that, basically, the plant people should be allowed to talk to the consumers directly to say, “What were you doing when this happened and how had you stored this product, etc.?” The General Counsel intervened and said, “We don’t ever want to have plant people talking to customers.

That would create too much potential risk.” Well, I’d counter it to your point and say, “What’s the risk of the plant people not understanding how the customer was using the product? If anything, there’s a huge risk there and, in fact, if you look at almost every major class action lawsuit and big government intervention, and there have been a number of, for instance in the auto industry and in the pharma industry recently, almost every one of those is due to the fact that problems weren’t handled very effectively and the problems were not paid attention to. It was literally with your problem handling and quality improvement process were pouring more gasoline on the fire rather than dealing with it effectively.” That actually raises the interesting issue that my company CCMC, every 2 years we do the National Wage Study. That’s a cross-section survey of U.S. population with Arizona State University, where we basically identify what makes consumers so angry they start swearing at a company.

What we find is that in most cases, the customer if they do bring a complaint to the company, they want both an apology, they want some empathy and they want a tangible piece of compensation or remedy. A large number of companies just say, “Well, we don’t need to apologize. We didn’t really do anything wrong so why should we apologize?” By not giving the apology, “I’m sorry to hear that happened. I’d be upset if it happened to you.” even if the customer did contribute a bit to the problem, that doesn’t cost anything but it doubles the potential of making the customer happy and what we have found is that comparing the recent wage study in 2013 to the White House study that we did in the ‘70s. Service and Quality have actually gotten worse over the past 30 years because companies are spending lots more money but they’re doing it in a way that doesn’t make customers happy and they’re doing sort of all the wrong things.

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Turning Prospects into Customers 0

For almost 20 years, Craig used Trigger Event strategies to become a top sales performer at EVERY company that has hired him – including WorldCom where he was named the #1 salesperson within six months of joining the company. craigeliasCraig has co-authored the book Shift!: Harness The Trigger Events That Turn Prospects Into Customers which is as good of description I have found for what is lacking in today’s selling.

Craig’s promise is the delivery of unique, compelling, and highly relevant content that clearly demonstrates how to:

  • Identify the specific Trigger Events that create demand for your products or services
  • Discover which decision makers experience the Trigger Events identified
  • Close more sales by getting to decision makers who experience Trigger Events before your competition!

Craig makes a special offer in the podcast that is hard to turn down.

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Putting the Hook on Customer Centric 0

The Five Habits You Need

Bob Thompson is an international authority on customer-centric business management who has researched and shaped leading industry trends since 1998. Bob is founder and CEO of CustomerThink Corporation which includes being editor-in-chief of CustomerThink.com, the world’s largest online community dedicated to helping business leaders develop and implement customer-centric business strategies.

Bob’s new book, Hooked On Customers: The Five Habits of Legendary Customer-Centric Companies takes a fresh look at customer-centric business management, exploring what Bob Thompson has identified as the five key organizational habits that enable any company to execute its business strategy more effectively and, ultimately, to outperform its competitors.

Related Podcasts and Transcription: Customer Think Bob Thompson on Customer Centricity


Excerpt from the Podcast

Joe: Well you center on five habits, could you just name them and just briefly explain what they are?

Bob: Yes sure. The habits are, number one is Listen. This has two dimensions to it. If I’m not making this too complicated, there’s kind of a strategic way of listening through market research and understanding what your customers really care about, what drives their loyalty. There’s more of the tactical feedback sort of listening, making sure that you know how good an experience you’re actually delivering to them. So there’s a lot of ways to do both of those things. I put it under the umbrella of listen.

Habit two is Think, which is about making good fact-based decisions. You know there’s a lot of hype about using analytics and Big Data. Basically what I found is that the best businesses have this kind of collaboration of man and machine. They have very good decision making skills as business leaders but they use technology effectively to help them. They don’t turn over their decisions to some tool. So making these decisions sounds so straightforward but actually very few companies do it really well. There’s a lot of sort of ingrained habits of making decisions because we’ve always done things that way as opposed to looking at it objectively with a fresh eye.

Habit three is empowerment. It’s to empower employees to use the information, the resources, and deliver the value to customers that you want them to deliver and not forcing them to check back with the boss for every little thing. So to me that’s kind of a litmus test for empower. If you say your employees are empowered but then you give them a rule book that’s six inches thick and say “You’re empowered to do only what’s in this rule book,” then I’d say they’re not empowered; they might as well be a robot, or you should automate that task if they have no latitude whatsoever. And there’s plenty of examples in the book about companies that are able to create value in interesting ways because their employees are more engaged and empowered to do what they need to do.

Habit four is Create. It’s frankly just another word, a word I prefer to innovate. The reason I prefer it is because innovate, just like customer centricity is one of those terms that everybody claims they do and very few companies actually do a very good job of it. So what I’m trying to get at is creating new value. Not just delivering what you said you were going to do but just pushing for finding new products, new services, going beyond what you’re delivering today and looking for something new. Again this is more of a distinguishing characteristic of top performing companies is they’re constantly looking to do something new. So I put that under the Create umbrella.

Number five is Delight. This is probably the most controversial of the five habits. There’s a fair segment of the consulting and the academic community that would argue well Delight is a bad idea. You can’t sustain it and so on and so forth. I disagree with that. If you intend to be an industry leader, you really have to be thinking how to deliver more than what your customers are expecting, but do it in a way that’s rational. And that’s the part. People get hung up on well Delight means every time somebody calls the call center you got to wow them. That’s not a sustainable way of doing it. Most customers in fact would say “I’m delighted if I don’t have to call the call center because you didn’t give me a reason. Nothing failed that I needed to call. If I do call I just want to get my problem solved quickly and easily.” But there are many opportunities through experiences to create little moments of delight. And these sort of memorable moments to me, this is the currency of the day for top companies. How do you create reasons for customers to remember what the heck you provided to them? If all you do is go into work every day saying I’m going to do only exactly what I promised to do and nothing more and if somebody complains I’ll fix it, you’re going to get run over eventually by somebody else in your industry or a related industry that’s coming in that’s willing to be more aggressive. I think Delight to me is kind of a litmus test for companies that really want to be leaders as opposed to just survive.


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The Cows Decide When It’s Milking Time 0

In a recent NY Times article, With Farm Robotics, the Cows Decide When It’s Milking Time, they discuss the attributes of a new technology that through robots and transponders cows get individualized services. The collection of data includes:

The robots also monitor the amount and quality of milk produced, the frequency of visits to the machine, how much each cow has eaten, and even the number of steps each cow has taken per day, which can indicate when she is in heat.

This is not to unlike a good Customer Relationship Management System (CRM). CRM systems should not be used to better manipulate a customer down our pre-determined path of engagement, rather be used to make better customer experiences and enable the customer an easier path for engagement. Leave them decide the milking time. When we do this as the article says:

But farmers said output generally increased with robots because most cows like being milked more often. (To allow lactation, cows are kept in a near-constant state of impregnation.)

As we create better workflows, we not only make it easy for the customer but for our staff to service the customer. Again from the article:

The machines have mellowed both the cows and much of the routine on the Bordens’ farm — though the humans have received the occasional distress call from their mechanized milkers.

Even though these are solid lessons to be learned the most important takeaway that I had from article was how automation can give me a better view of the customer experience. Real-time information with actionable data sets, instead of looking at what happens in the past is the treasure trove of Big Data. This thought was driven by the comment:

The view is improved, as well. “Most milking parlors, you see, you really only see the back end of the cow,” Mr. Borden’s father, Tom, said. “I don’t see that as building up much of a relationship.”

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