This is the Category used for the blog posts.

Honesty is the New brand of Choice

The internet has empowered the consumer like nothing before … and this change is still in it’s infancy.

Going forward you cannot hide poor service behind a sexy brand, or bad practices behind clever marketingSocial media.

Customers HATE being misled: when the truth appears they’ll disappear quicker than rats out of an aqueduct (remember the Ratners story?).

This new age requires honesty and integrity. Customers’ word of mouth will be there whatever happens and it will do one of two things:

  • Draw more customers to you
  • Warn people to stay away

Your actions will determine what they do.

They can forgive mistakes, honestly handled (remember when M&S ‘boobed’?), but they can’t EVER forgive you for misleading them or appearing not to care.

Respect them, make them happy, and treat them with honesty, in good times and bad, and all will work out fine.

Of course: that’s always easier to say than to do.

Everyone says it, but it’s rarer than hen’s teeth to find genuine ways to do it that really work!

So, if you think it’s a good idea (and of course it is), and you’d like to find foolproof, genuine way that will make this happen for you, then give us a shout.

You don’t have to spend any money: we’ll send you our powerful free booklets for nothing, and they may be all you ever need.

It ain’t rocket science … it’s just a few simple, powerful tools and systems that need to be applied to all that you do.

If you like what we’re saying and want to know more, without any obligation, please email support@salesthroughservice.com and ask for our free ebooks on ‘The 7 Deadly Sins of Sales and Service’

‘Everyone’s Talking About’

Everyone’s talking about’how often do you hear this statement (usually by advertisers)?

Well, apart from the obvious fact it can’t be true, it also hides a huge mistake on the part of the advertiser.

  • If everyone was talking about it, there’d be no need to advertise it!

So, if you ever feel tempted to make similar statements– take the following 3 steps:

  1. Stop and think.
  2. Focus on what you can do to GENUINELY be remarkable and to get people talking about you for the right reasons.
  3. Start building that vision of perfection, step by step.

Not only will this deliver GENUINE long term success, it will also save you money that might otherwise be wasted on trying to promote pretentious and misleading statements.

How much advertising was responsible for Google’s success? Or Game of Thrones?

We all need to snap into reality and start working on what really matters.

If you like what we’re saying and want to know more, without any obligation, please email support@salesthroughservice.com and ask for our free ebooks on ‘The 7 Deadly Sins of Sales and Service’

 

4 Steps to make your Marketing more Effective

‘How to win at marketing and drive more sales?’: this must be the most frequently asked business question of all ‘How to win at marketing and drive more sales?’time.

  • Every individual and Organisation wants their Marketing to make life easier and drive success to them

Yet time and time again we see massive under-performance in actual results versus prospective results.

So, in this day and age, can we look at marketing in a more enlightened way?

The answer is, of course, yes.

If we stop asking how we can market ourselves better and instead start taking the following four steps, we will definitely get better results:

1. Change our beliefs.  We need to stop trying to market ourselves and start trying to wow the customer: confidently and consistently in the certain belief that, if we do this well and make it easy for customers, they will want to engage with us and buy more from us.

2. Stop designing Marketing systems and processes aimed exclusively at making a sale. Instead they need to be aimed at impressing the customer by harmonising with their real (emotional) needs.

3. Spend our Marketing budget on building relationships through consistent small steps.  Customers hate to be sold to, but love to buy.  They hate it when we try to take large, obvious steps to get their custom but they love it when our systems and processes use small steps to impress and energise them.

4. Have ‘lead’ measures.  Marketing Departments need to stop obsessively measuring reach and numbers.  Instead they need to start using new measures (known as ‘lead measures’) that empower and energise continued improvements in customer loyalty, reputation and relationship.

In short, the answer to how to win at Marketing in the world of the empowered and joined-up customer is to:

  • go slower and turn the Marketing process on its head
  • focus all Marketing systems, processes and actions on wowing the customer and fostering customer trust

In the world of Social Media and the empowered customer, it is madness to assume that we can ‘market’ to anyone.  The customer now chooses their own route to market.

The real winners in marketing are those who realise that by taking it slowly, not trying to sell to everyone, and designing systems and processes across all areas of their business to systematically blow customers’ socks off, they achieve blow your socks off long-term success and profitability.

And that is how to truly win in the long term.

If you like what we’re saying and want to know more, without any obligation, please email support@salesthroughservice.com and ask for our free ebooks on ‘The 7 Deadly Sins of Sales and Service’

3 Reasons why your Marketing may not be working

Marketing drives sales, right?

Wrong.

In a world of the empowered customer, the old ‘marketing drives sales’ model is becoming grossly out of date.

Sure, marketing is still very important: it’s just that the order of action has changed, and marketing now fits in differently, and may have a very different role.

Here are 3 key reasons why you current Marketing may not be working:

  1. Push rather than pull: most marketing is based simply on a ‘push’ philosophy, and indeed this is still taught at most business schools. The reality of a customer empowered world is that your customer doesn’t believe a word you say when you’re trying to push them: they can find out all they need to know about you from reviews on the web, discussion forums, and comments on social media. Intelligent marketeers in this new world change from trying to ‘push’ to trying to ‘pull’, through being genuine, responsive and truly remarkable.

2. Polishing a turd: let’s face it, we all want to hype ourselves up a bit, and present a ‘click bait’ image to the                 world: yet, we need to get a grip on ourselves and stop trying to polish turds. The empowered customer will find           the truth over time, and if we’ve quietly under promised and over delivered, they’ll love us and promote us to              their friends. If, on the other had, we’ve over promised (which is known as ‘normal’ in many marketing circle),            and then slightly under delivered, our unpolished turds will be lain bare for all the world to see … and there’ll be          nothing we can do about it.

3. Your agenda, not their agenda: the traditional approach of marketing is to try and expose how ‘great’ we               think our products and services are, in the most efficient way possible, to our target market. The reality is that             customers don’t give a damn: they’re only interested in what they want, and how your product or service will               solve a need in their life. In a world where customers can research answers to their needs at the touch of a                     button, any place, any time, your opinion on the ‘greatness’ of your products or services is now irrelevant, and             instead just gets in the way of your customer finding what they want. Focus instead on making life easy for your           customer, and giving them the perception that you genuinely care about their needs.

A good example of ‘new marketing’ would be: publishing articles that don’t sell anything, they just add value to the reader. If the reader gets value from them, they may well then contact you when they need some help in that area. Like this article!

In a nutshell:

  • In the old world of one way mass communication, and the relatively dis-empowered customer: your marketing was the mainstay of your route to market: it was the best solution for you and your customer.
  • In the new world of two way mass communication, and relatively empowered customers, your marketing instead needs to add value to your brand and customer relationship: then, and only then, will they spread the word to those around them. Then you’ll be a winner.

So, what to do about it: see our next blog: 4 steps to make your marketing more effective, which will be posted soon.

If you like what we’re saying and want to know more, without any obligation, please email support@salesthroughservice.com and ask for our free ebooks on ‘The 7 Deadly Sins of Sales and Service’

4 Rules to always beat the Competition

There is always pressure to watch the competition, weighing whether we can beat them or if they are currently beating us.

Many businesses obsess over what their competition is doing, so they miss the true issue at stake:

  • True winners do not focus on the competition: they focus on themselves.  They seek to truly improve everything they do, using information systematically gathered from their developing relationships with customers.

In the world of the empowered consumer, social media and transparent online feedback, this has never been more important.  Customers can toy with your reputation at the click of a mouse, publicise your problems at the swipe of a screen, and tell the whole world whether you were great or poor in a nano-second.

The true competition is not who you think it is.

  • The true competition is your own beliefs, systems and processes, and whether they are good enough for the hyper-competitive world of the empowered customer.

Of course it’s important to keep an eye on what’s happening in your market, and to know what your immediate competitors are offering to clients, yet this is only background information.  I urge you to use this as a starting point only and instead obsess on the following four points:

  1. Get closer to your customers. Your customers can tell you what’s out in the market, what you’re doing well and what you’re not.  You then know what needs to change, and through this process you will also build world-class customer loyalty.
  2. Put a continuous improvement and innovation system into place in your business, based on small steps, continually executed.  We call this ‘going the extra inch’.
  3. Filter all your systems and processes through the customer’s emotional needs: trust, attention and easy life.  This way you can avoid inadvertently putting your foot in it, and make sure all of your systems deliver the optimum customer experience, resulting in maximum customer loyalty, reputation, cross-sales, up-sales and referrals.
  4. Make sure you have at the heart of your organisation something we call a ‘customer-focused mission’.  This is a belief that you are not there to make money, but instead to do something so well that customers want to give you their money.  This needs to cover every aspect of your business and direct everything you do within it.

If you do all of these things well, it will enable you to continually improve and rise head and shoulders above the competition.

Always keep an eye on your competition, as we’ve already mentioned, but more importantly keep an eye on yourself.  Focus on your systems and ensure that you are continually improving and innovating to meet and exceed the needs of your customer: next week, next month, next year and next decade.

In this hyper-competitive customer-empowered world nobody knows what’s round the corner, but you need to know before anyone else does, otherwise your market could literally disappear overnight, or trickle away until you suddenly realise that things have changed but it’s already too late.

Just look what Uber, Air BnB, Trip Advisor, Amazon, Google etc have done to their markets: they’ve revolutionised them!

Don’t focus on the competition. Focus on yourself and your competition will become less of a problem.

For more information on how to beat your competition, please contact us at: support@salesthroughservice.com

The 5 outcomes to a Sales Process (and not all of them are great!)

In most ‘traditional’ sales strategies, the focus is usually on ‘getting a sale’.

However, this is far too simplistic… in today’s world of instant online reviews and the empowered customer, it’s downright dangerous. In fact there are five outcomes to a sales process, and they all need to be considered, trained and considered in order to get great long term sales results.

This is so much more than just ‘hitting target this week’!

Let’s look at each outcome in turn, from worst to best, and suggest a few strategies to make you more effective in each of them.

  1. ‘I’ll come back to you’: this is called a ‘no decision’: where the customer hasn’t made a decision, or has made one but hasn’t told you! The output of this is usually monumental time-wasting and unnecessary time, cost and aggro.
  • The main reason for this outcome is: you haven’t done your job properly (the customer hasn’t trusted you enough to keep discussing with you until they were confident to say either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. OR they don’t trust you enough to tell you what they’re REALLY thinking.)

2. ‘Yes’ for the wrong reasons: this is where you get the sale, but for the ‘wrong’ reasons. ‘So what’s wrong              with this? I’ve got the sale … happy days!’ you may ask. Well yes, that may be the case if you describe ‘happy days’        as:

  • High levels of complaints and returns
  • High levels of poor online reviews
  • Business success dependent more and more on deals and ‘special offers’

3. ‘No’ for the wrong reasons: this is where you don’t get the sale, but you should have: you would have                  been the best supplier for the job, but you weren’t able to build enough rapport and get the customer to trust                enough for them to understand the full nature of their need, the market, and how you could be the best long                  term solution for them.

4. ‘No’ for the right reasons: many sales managers would like to rip my tongue out for this, but a ‘no’ for the           right reasons is a ‘good’ outcome.

  • This is where you’ve built a great relationship with the customer, and have together agreed that, all things considered, your solution isn’t the best fit for the client, and you help them instead by pointing them in other directions.
  • If you do your sales properly, although this customer won’t use you today, when and if their need changes, they’ll come back to you, they’ll recommend you, and they might well use your services anyway (fully aware that you’re not a 100% fit) because you’re so helpful and trustworthy … and, by the way, no matter what your marketing manager tells you, you can NEVER sell something to everyone … you’ll NEVER get 100% success rate: it’s blindingly obvious common sense, so stop worrying about it and instead just ENSURE all your ‘No’s are gained for the right reasons!

5. And of course, the ‘best’ outcome is always a ‘yes’ for the ‘right’ reasons: this is where you not only get the             sale today, but you also get great levels of customer happiness, loyalty and reputation: a true win/win!

So, how do you ensure you get none of no’s 1,2 and 3, and all of 4 and 5?

There are 4 steps:

  1. Get your beliefs straight: if the above information makes you shout ‘halleluja’ then this isn’t a problem. If you’re worried about the above, then you’re going to struggle.

2. Put in ‘customer focused marketing (and sales) processes’, focused on delivering the 3 key customer needs at           every step:

a) Uncompromising trust

b) Obsessive focus on making it as easy as possible for the customer to deal with you (whether they say ‘yes’ or             ‘no’)

c) Continual attention, no matter what the outcome is:

i) (If you get the sale, it’s just the start … you then have to consistently blow their socks off)

ii) (If you don’t get the sale, it’s just the start of a relationship where you stay in touch PROPERLY: it’s taken                long enough to find them, don’t just drop them)

3. Step by step sales system, proactively building trust and relationships and an up front contract to make a decision ‘yes’ or ‘no’ based on agreed criteria and constant assurance that ‘It’s OK to say ‘no’’. Continually developed and improved using customer feedback.

4. Proactive professional (3rd party) feedback from all customers to help you continually improve and develop all the above points and reward behaviour consistent with these challenging beliefs and rules. This should be gathered from:

a) The ones who said ‘yes’

b) The ones who said ‘no’

c) The ones who said ‘not now’

And that is the 5 outcomes to a sales process.

For more information or to license or use our sales, experience, loyalty and reputation systems, please contact us: support@salesthroughservice.com

There’s no such thing as a ‘Bad’ online review

There’s no such thing as a ‘Bad’ online review

 

How to turn negative reviews, fake or real into extra sales and PR.

 

There’s a lot of talk about ‘bad’ online reviews, and the negative effect they can have on a Pub or Hotel business, and, indeed many acres of print have been devoted to legal routes and fighting them. But we work with Pub and Hotel Businesses across the UK and have developed a different response that works to:

  • Reduce stress and time
  • Improve your PR whether the review is ‘good’ or ‘bad’
  • Help turn any review into extra business

These ideas have been adopted by leading Pub and Hotel operators across the UK, including former BII licensees of the year … and, by the way, they work.

So, what’s the secret and what do we do about these ‘bad’ reviews?

There are 4 steps:

Step 1: Accept that the world has changed and the customer really is in charge

  • Social media and online review sites have empowered the customer like nothing before: this is a genuine revolution in consumer behaviour, not a fad
  • Don’t swim against the tide, you’ll be like King Canute …. Pointless and frustrating.
  • Example of success: you see them every day in the news: Ebay, AirBnB, Uber etc

Point 2: Genuinely put the desire to give a ‘Great Customer Experience’ at the heart of all you do

  • In this new world, you can ONLY be genuinely successful in the long term if you change the ‘business mantra’ from:
    • ‘We’re here to make money, and we also want to be nice to the customer’.
    • To: ‘We’re here to be loved by the customer, if we do this well the money will follow, not the other way round’
  • This ‘customer communication revolution’ genuinely affects EVERYTHING you do, so you need to filter all your systems and processes through these beliefs.
  • Example of success: The Monkton Inn: small village pub increased turnover from under £1000 per week to over £12000 per week by genuinely adopting these principles

Point 3: Put proactive feedback systems in place

  • Don’t wait for the review to appear on TripAdvisor: it’s too late!
  • If you don’t actively demonstrate to the customer that you really DO care and really DO want their feedback, they’ll assume (usually correctly) that you don’t.
  • You must put proactive feedback systems in place to help them tell you what you need to know (to get Point 2 right!) These will vary according to the business, but may well include:
    • Tokens and feedback boxes (these work like magic in a pub)
    • Active Twitter engagement (customer like this)
    • Telephone feedback
    • Facebook page for feedback and engagement
    • Online systems
  • Examples of success:
    • The Bull’s Head Repton (amazingly successful pub run by former BII licensees of the year): tokens and feedback boxes
    • Café Nero: SIMPLE online feedback system

Point 4: React strongly and positively to all public online reviews: there’s no such thing as a ‘bad’ online review

  • KEY point: you are NOT responding to the individual, you are demonstrating your personality to the world – this is FREE PR and marketing, pure and simple
  • Calm your ego: customers are NOT always right (but they ARE always the customer)!
  • Respond to ALL reviews: otherwise it looks like you don’t care (This is VERY important)
  • Customers are 3X more interested in your response than the review: they know that people can be awkward: what they’re interested in is what you’re like when you respond!
  • Negative reviews are read 5X more than positive reviews: responding to these properly is a HUGE opportunity.
  • Example of excellence: The Rockford Inn, Exmoor (check out their TA reviews and responses!)

And lastly: ‘bad’ reviews: well, these fall into 2 categories:

‘Valid’ and ‘False’

For ‘Valid’ reviews, take it on the chin, ask them to contact you offline, and state publicly what you aim to be great at and how brilliantly you would have handled this complaint if it had been made direct to you at the time: Free publicity for how great you are.

For ‘False’ reviews, treat them exactly the same,

  • ask them politely and kindly to contact you offline
  • state your commitment to great customer experiences (and all the steps that you’re taking every day to make this a genuine reality)
  • apologize for what needs apologizing for, and state what you DO do and DON’T do (eg: you don’t need to apologise for not having a fruit machine if you don’t do fruit machines!) … and why this is.
  • state what you would have done if they had brought this to your attention at the time
  • reiterate your commitment to feedback and wanting to get it right for the customer
  • if you can manage it, add a little humour throughout: the reader will pick it up, and after all, pubs and hotels are supposed to be fun places!

 

  • Example of excellence: Pizzeria Delfina SanFrancisco: search for their response to false reviews on Yelp: it’s hilarious and supercharged their business.

 

If you manage all the above well, you should also get MANY more positive reviews online – that’s GREAT: it’s free marketing to the people who are interested! Fantastic!

So: there’s no such thing as ‘bad’ reviews, and, by the way, there’s no such thing as ‘bad’ feedback: it’s how you respond to it that makes all the difference.

 

 

How to beat the competition?

How to beat the competition?

There is always pressure to watch the competition, to see if we can beat them or if they are currently beating us. So many businesses obsess about what their competition is doing that they miss the true issue at stake. It is not the competition but instead themselves, their own beliefs, systems and actions.

True winners do not focus on the competition: they focus on themselves. They seek to truly improve everything they do, using information systematically gathered from their developing relationships with customers.

In the world of the empowered consumer and transparent online feedback, this has never been more important. Customers can toy with your reputation at the click of a mouse, publicise your problems at the swipe of a screen, and tell the whole world whether you were great or poor in a nano-second.

The true competition is not who you think it is. The true competition is your own business: your systems and processes, and whether they are good enough for the hyper-competitive world of the empowered customer.

Of course it’s important to keep an eye on what’s happening in your market, and to know what your supposed competitors are offering to clients, but this is only background information. I urge you to use this as a starting point only and instead obsess on the following four points:

Get closer to your customers. Your customers can tell you what’s out in the market, what you’re doing well and what you’re not. You then know what needs to change, and through this process you will also build world-class customer loyalty.

Put a continuous improvement and innovation system into place in your business, based on small steps, continually executed. We call this ‘going the extra inch’.

Filter all your systems and processes through the customer’s emotional needs: trust, attention and easy life. This way you can avoid inadvertently putting your foot in it, and make sure all of your systems deliver the optimum customer experience, resulting in maximum customer loyalty, reputation, cross-sales, up-sales and referrals.

Make sure you have at the heart of your organisation something we call a ‘customer-focussed mission’. This is a belief that you are not there to make money, but instead to do something so well that customers want to give you their money. This needs to cover every aspect of your business and direct everything you do within it.

If you do all of these things well it will enable you to continually improve and rise head and shoulders above the competition. Always keep an eye on your competition, as we’ve already mentioned, but more importantly keep an eye on yourself. Focus on your systems and ensure that you are continually improving and innovating to meet and exceed the needs of your customer: next week, next month, next year and next decade. In this hyper-competitive customer-empowered world nobody knows what’s round the corner, but you need to know before anyone else does, otherwise your market could literally disappear overnight, or trickle away until you suddenly realise that things have changed but it’s already too late.

Don’t focus on the competition. Focus on yourself and your competition will become less of a problem.

 

A complaint is a compliment

A complaint is a compliment

 

A complaint is a compliment: what do we mean by this?  Surely a complaint is a bad thing because it means that the customer is unhappy about something?

Well, of course it’s usually better to have happy customers than unhappy ones, but, who are you kidding?  You can’t get it right all the time, no matter how great your business and systems.  And the person who will notice when you’ve made a mistake before anyone else is the customer.

Yet all research shows that the customer very often doesn’t tell the organisation, so most organisations are supremely ignorant customer experience and all the small moments of truth that really matters to the customer that they are not getting the right is the need to in order to deliver consistent and continually improving customer reputation and loyalty.

So, when the customer complains, they are really doing you a massive favour:

  1. They are informing you of something about your business that you may well not have been aware of.
  2. They are telling you rather than all their friends behind your back.
  3. They are bucking the trend and are being brave enough to bring this to your attention when the 20 other people may well have noticed it but not told you anything about it.
  4. They are subconsciously telling you that they trust you to do something about it and want to have a long-term relationship with your business.

So it’s always a mystery to me why customer facing staff in any organisation so often find a complaint a problem to deal with.

Instead of saying: “thank you so much for bringing this to my attention, let me listen to you more”, they often say something inane and defensive that puts the customer’s back up and makes them which they had never bought this matter to the attention of the member of staff in the first place.

Top tip: change the word “complaint” to “compliment”

Action:

  1. Send this piece of information to every member of your staff and have a 10 minute meeting every month on the value, power and joy of compliments.
  2. Start developing a world class compliment response process that is designed to consistently build reputation and referrals in every situation.

For more information for practical support in these areas, please contact support@salesthroughservice.com

Business Karma

Business Karma

The Dalai Lama writes:

‘The word ‘Karma’ simply means ‘action’. So when we talk about our ‘Karma’ we are talking about our intentional (and unintentional) acts of body, speech and mind. And when we talk about the fruits of our Karma, we are talking about the consequences of those acts.’

The same is true of Organisations (and teams within them). Their ‘Karma’ are their acts, and the fruits of their ‘Karma’ is their reputation in the market (and therefore their customer loyalty and referrability).

So ‘Karma’ is VITAL FOR LONG TERM SUCCESS in today’s world of informed and hyper-connected customers.

How do Organisations usually know what results their Karma are generating? There are 3 ways:

  1. Guessing (the normal way) – resulting in pain and waste
  2. Surveys (the next most normal way) – the same as guessing, but this time with the added complication of incomplete and misleading information thrown in!
  3. Genuine customer feedback and engagement (the rare way) – resulting in genuine knowledge, motivation, reputation, loyalty and referrals

The conclusions are simple and don’t need to be spelt out.

In a world where the fruits of your ‘Karma’ will determine your success, you need to obsessively listen for your ‘Karma’ and systematically work on it bit by bit, until it is consistently and predictably positive.

And then work on it some more.

Please feel free to contact us for free information on how to do this in your team or organisation: support@salesthroughservice.com