The Business Edge Blog

January 22, 2013

How to Engage in Conversation with Your Customers

love customers

How to Engage in Conversation with Your Customers

We know that it is important to build a relationship with our clients and customers.  People do business with people they Know, Like and Trust – the KLT factor.  People also feel better doing business with people that care about them.

Clients have asked me to help their new employees, sales people and service people learn a few new tips to break the ice and engage customers in conversation.  After our workshops I follow up and ask what new approaches worked well for them.  A few that work well for many types of businesses include:

1.  Ask a Different Question – (other than “May I help you”)

“How are you today?”, ” What brings you here today?”,  “What is on your schedule today besides this?”

Cautions:   Be prepared to participate in the conversation, not just fire question after question.  Don’t press for more if their responses are short.  You still get points for trying.

2.  Extend a Compliment –

If appropriate, comment on how cute a child looks or how well behaved they are.  Extend a compliment on something that looks attractive – purse/briefcase, phone cover, glasses, shoes.  If you are in their home, find something to compliment them on.

Caution:  Avoid coming across as someone in dating mode.  Stay professional.

3.  Use a surrounding object as an anchor –

If you notice the car they drive, ask how they enjoy owning that model of car.  If they are carrying a shopping bag from a store, ask if they enjoyed shopping there.

4.  Ask for their help or advice –

Ask if they have tried a restaurant you’re curious about.  Ask for their input on something you’re working on like determining a great spot for a vacation.

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Please share what works well in your business. I look forward to hearing from you.  You can email me at coach@thebizedge.biz or join the discussion below.

Until next time – Remember to mind your business!

March 6, 2012

DST 2012: Use Your Extra Hour of Daylight to Look At Your Business

 We gain an hour of daylight starting this coming weekend.  What will you do with yours?

If you are a business owner with a physical location, step outside and look at your business as your potential and existing customers do.  Is the window clean?  Are the exterior walls in good shape?  How about your sign?  Do you have something that makes your customers smile as they enter your door?  Use your extra hours of daylight to spruce up from the outside in.

If you don’t have a physical location, step outside and look at your business as your customer would by looking at all your marketing material.  Start with your business cards and your tagline.  Are they still up to date, or do they need a bit of freshening up?  Look at your brochures and social media.  When was the last time you updated your experience?  Each client job you work on provides you with new experience.  Spend your extra daylight hours updating your business look.

Do you drive a vehicle in your business?  What impression does it give your potential customers?  If it looks like you live in your car, it’s time to clean it out.  If the tools of your trade are scattered all over, what impression does that give your customers of the care you will give their things?  Use your extra daylight hours to organize your tools.  Does your car or truck look like it has gone the entire winter without a car wash?  Use your extra hours of daylight to spruce it up inside and out!

When you look at your business through your customers’ eyes, what do you see?  Share your creative solutions with us below.

Holly                      Licensed Professional Business Coach    Certified Retirement Coach

May 3, 2011

The Perfect Day

What is a Perfect Day?

For many of my clients a perfect day is one where a new client or customer arrives, gets great service, and leaves as a raving fan – willing to tell others about their experience.  This holds true for my clients from ” A to Z”; Attorneys to Zebras (actually I don’t have any Zebra clients yet….but I do have a yoga instructor!).

When the new customer or clients arrives, I hope the business owner remembers to ask how they heard about the business.  It’s always a good idea to know what marketing efforts are paying off.  Return on Investment is what that is called.  Over time my clients begin to see a pattern of where their customer are coming from.  It could be that another customer referred them.  If that is a consistent thread, then a customer referral program is indeed in order.  Reward the customers who send you other customers!  They will keep referring you, and the business will grow!  It could be that a particular marketing effort is paying off.  It’s good to know which ones to keep investing in and which ones to discontinue.

Providing great service is a given.  At least that is what the business owner would always hope to do.  What if the business owner is not involved in the transaction?  Is everyone involved in the business on the same page?  Would every person working with your clients or customers strive to provide great service that leads to a raving fan?

Think about some of your recent encounters with employees and businesses other than your own.  Did all of them have the goal of providing great service and creating a raving fan out of you?  Some of my recent experiences have been less impressive than that.  Now think about your business.  What can you improve on to make today a Perfect Day?

Share your ideas below!  Make today a Perfect Day!

August 2, 2010

How to Make a Profit – Part 2

It may sound silly, but many business owners forget that they are in business to make a profit.  That means making money! 

 In Part 1 of this two part series, I talked about what a Profit Plan is and why the time spent developing one is worthwhile.  If you want to re-read Part 1, click here…..

Once your Profit Plan is pulled together, the real fun starts.  As I said in Part 1, it’s critical to get others in your organization involved so they can help with the execution of the plan.

One of the most important areas for you to focus is the top line (projected sales).  What is everyone in your business doing to bring customers in?  A couple of ideas on how to keep yourself and your organization focused on driving sales into your business:

  1. Have a Clear (Written) Goal for the Number of New Customers:  You have a Profit Plan that shows the total sales in terms of dollars you’d like your organization to bring in.  Now let’s break it down into the number of customers required to reach that number.  If you are targeting $100,000 in new business this year, where will it come from?  From one customer, from 1,000 customers, or some other number?
  2. Break Marketing Activities Into Monthly & Weekly Buckets:  Marketing drives sales.  All you can manage is what you and your people do – activities.  You can not control who and when someone will actually buy your products and services.  Once you have the number of new customers identified to meet your sales goal, the BIG question is, “What marketing activities will put you in front of those prospective customers so you can reach your goal”?  Marketing activities fall into three categories:  i) Short-Term – referrals, cold calls, direct mail.  ii) Long-Term (networking, writing, strategic alliances, and iii) Passive – print advertising, web sites, promotional products.  Once you’ve identified the strategies that work best for your business, the next step is to put a weekly schedule into place to drive those activities.
  3. Meet Regularly to Track Progress:  With so much time and effort going into developing the Profit Plan, I’m amazed at how many people will put the plan in their desk drawer and not look at it again to measure their progress against the plan.  I recommend you and your marketing/sales team meet on a weekly basis to track the execution of the marketing plan.   Is everyone doing what they agreed to do?  Are things working as planned or do changes need to be made?  While it’s easy to justify skipping the meetings when you “get busy”, I strongly advise my clients to continue with the meetings to keep the momentum going.
  4. Adjust the Plan Sooner Than Later:  Things almost never go as planned.  The biggest benefit of having a Profit Plan is to ensure that all the right discussions are happening within your organization and that all your key team members know what needs to be done.  Once you and your team get used to having the Plan, you’ll find yourself constantly tweaking the execution of the plan by what happens throughout the year.  If you get a fabulous response to a promotion that you had planned to only run occasionally, why wouldn’t you want to increase the number of times you plan on running it?

 

This discussion provides a framework for how to drive the top line of your Profit Plan.  Understanding that a plan needs to be constantly tweaked and challenged during execution is key to making a profit in your business.

Assignment:  Establish your top line goal for projected sales.  How many new customers will it take to reach the new sales volume?  Define weekly and monthly marketing activities you’ll do to attract those new customers:  Short-term, Long-term, Passive and Active.

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