Sales

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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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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The Beautifulness of Chaos in Sales 1

One of my pet-peeves is this process thinking mentality that we can apply a tool like value-stream mapping and create a more efficient sales process, by getting rid of unnecessary steps and action. People are always looking for a template that they can follow and ZaZoom, sales increases. Though there is some truth that we can increase efficiencies by mapping some defined process, I hardly think that is really what we desire in our sales process.

Sales is an inefficient process. Always has been and always will be.  As Dan Pink explains, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, so why don’t we leave it be that way. Humans are not wired to interact in a linear fashion. We are even finding out that though hierarchy needs to exist in organizations that there is another component that also needs to exist. A more chaotic component.

Our organizations need hierarchy structure to get things done. It is an efficient way to disseminate the work and make decisions. However, in many sales opportunities we are put in the position that we must extend beyond features and benefits. Excuse the redundancy, but sales must be the ones to create opportunities (Think Challenger Sale: Lean Salespeople are Challengers, not Problem Solvers).

Some sales opportunities can use a step by step process. It requires a market that operates in a very similar way across a wide spectrum and has a defined collection of information. You can organize information with little interpretation and pass it on to your sales people to manage and benefit from this “perfect data”. I apologize for my limited viewpoint, but I am having trouble finding markets like that anymore.

Our information and data are anything but linear, it is all being interpreted. Reality demands that we cut across boundaries and make things happen. Agility and speed of acting on this information is imperative. To get things done we short-circuit that hierarchy and use our existing tribal knowledge. When doing that we organize and operate in clusters not hierarchies.

Does this mean chaos exist with sales people? Not at all, it means that though we have a streamline efficient process for sales, we also blend in that chaotic structure as an underlying process that can be organized and defined within our sales unit. It should not be seen as something that is wrong and penalized for not following the process. Rather it should be governed by our understanding of how to develop new opportunities and the reaction to them.

These chaotic structures should be seen as clusters creating collaborative atmosphere. This seldom insures the best answer gets enacted. However, it does insure a better possibility that something does get enacted. It takes away that paralysis from trying to force fit our product/service. No longer are we trying to gather buy-in to get something accomplished, but rather change is being driven from a sense of joint accountability. The best action taken becomes the best implementable action. It is a different way of enacting change. It is a different way of working with a customer. Could it work for you?

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The Challenger & Customer Experience 0

Matt Dixon, an executive director of strategic research at CEB, has an unrelenting drive to find the answers to questions senior executives often take for granted. Matt’s latest books are The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty and The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation.

Related Transcription and Podcasts: Dixon on The Challenger & Customer Experience

Joe: When I try to explain the challenger approach to someone, I say it’s the salesman or the sales team that’s going to meet with the customer and are going to do new math. Instead of one plus one equal to two, they want to make one plus one equal to three. Is that a good way to explain it?


Matt Dixon’s response:

It is. Since the book’s come out, I’ve heard so many people tell the story just like you are in their own words, and it’s always exciting to hear people kind of put it in their own terms. I think that’s definitely a way you can put it. Just the other day I was talking to the head of sales and said the challenger for this person, for this guy, the head of sales at this pretty large company, global company. He said, “When I think of my challenger salespeople, these are the people who go in, and they make the customer blink.” They bring that new idea to the table. They bring a new way to save money or to make money, or to avoid risk or to steal market share or to engage employees.

Whatever the outcome is that you are promising to deliver for the customer they bring a new way to get there, the new idea for getting there and accomplishing that objective, and they put it on the table. It’s often an idea the customer themselves hadn’t thought of before, and it makes them blink and it makes them do a double take. Surprisingly, they actually generate some pretty skeptical reaction from that customer. The customer says, “Hey, I don’t know about that. That’s a pretty bold claim or I don’t know if that’s going to work here what you just laid on the table. I’m not sure. I think we’re a little bit different.”

The challenger is able to hold their ground, drive forward and use that idea as a wedge to open up new terrain and surface new area in conversation. I do like your description though, and I’ll file it away for later use and maybe pay you royalties on the description later.


Related Transcription and Podcasts: Dixon on The Challenger & Customer Experience

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