Could you be losing business too?

I had a computer problem last month and contacted two of my contacts about it.  I spoke to one but he was away and would be home in a couple of days. The other gave me a price but confused me as to how he would solve the problem; but at least I had a price for fixing the problem.

To this day I have not heard another word from either of them, and I’ve actually seen one of them three times.

This is just BONKERS!

They know I have a problem, it has to be fixed, and yet they haven’t bothered to follow up and ask when I would like my computer fixed.  Notice I say when, not if.  I have certain business to give to someone and yet it seems that neither of these two businesses want it.  Now they might be thinking, well I want the work done, so I’ll get back to them, and maybe I will.  But how much better would it be to ask, and make certain, that they are the one who gets my business and not a competitor?

It’s such a simple thing to do but so many businesses don’t.  So, please make sure that your business is not missing out on work, and, more importantly, profit, just because you are too busy or don’t have a system in place to follow up.

Smashed!

Work progresses well in our lovely new home in the Surrey Hills. In our garden we have the more usual birds but also ducks, pheasants and a heron (I think he is fishing).

Currently we are working on the design of our en-suite and have spent a great deal of time choosing the furniture, tiles, fittings and taps. One of these items was a lovely white ceramic counter top basin chosen to go with a lovely oak vanity unit found on the internet.

The unit arrived well packed on a pallet but without the basin. This it turned out was coming from another supplier. A few days later a delivery man arrived at our door and, as he handed me the box he was carrying, I heard the sound of broken ceramic. I suggested he take the box back but he replied that his was to deliver not take returns (not the best customer service).

When I opened the box my fears were realised as the basin was smashed to pieces. What surprised me was that a ceramic bowl could just be placed into a standard cardboard carton without any additional packing.

smashed sink

A quick phone call, resulted in the company apologising for the mishap, that they would get a replacement basin sent out immediately, with extra packing.

Pretty good customer service and I have to say that I was pretty impressed. After all, mistakes happen and it’s how they are put right that makes the difference.

A couple of days later another delivery man knocked at my door and as he handed the box to me I heard the same sound of broken ceramic.

When I opened the box, there was the smashed basin. Again just placed in a cardboard carton; the extra packing consisted of a layer of bubblewrap wrapped around the outside of the carton.

Needless to say I didn’t ask for a third bowl to be sent but instead asked for a refund (given) and sourced, as it turned out, a far more beautiful basin locally.

But this is what I don’t understand. How is this business making any money? Two basins delivered and smashed and no sale – no income at all.

Even more mystifying is what sort of manufacture puts a delicate ceramic basin into a plain cardboard carton without any packing? I’m sure a little polystyrene would have done the job.

I can only assume that these basins are normally collected (even that doesn’t make any sense) and not delivered by courier, with no thought being given to the extra requirements of that service. But even then, when pointed out, no proper thought was given to a process that clearly wasn’t working.

So, are you providing a service that may have changed in some way that needs some extra thinking to ensure that you are providing the best possible service?

I love this mailing!

It’s taken me a while for me to write this blog because I didn’t want you, my reader, to think I was easily taken in. But I just love this mailing.

It arrived on my doormat some months ago and I knew exactly what it was; someone was trying to sell me something. In fact I put the envelope, un-opened, straight into the recycling. As I say, I knew exactly what it was. But something at the back of my brain was nagging me. ‘You’re not average’, it was saying. But I knew it was just a ploy. ‘Forget it!’ I told myself.

Envelope Mailing

I did forget it for a while but finally succumbed, retrieved the envelope from the re-cycling and opened it. And, of course, I was right. I was trying to be sold something I didn’t want.

But, that’s the point of great marketing – or, more importantly, a great ‘hook’.

You have to get opened whatever it is that you are sending out. You have to get the next paragraph of a letter read or the line in an advert. And the way you do that is with a brilliant ‘hook’. Be it a Subject Line of an email, the Headline in an advert, the title of a letter, the first words on your website, and yes, the words on an envelope.

Your most important job is to get people to read about whatever it is that you are selling and the better your ‘hook’ is, the more enquiries, and therefore sales, you will get.

Do this right and people will just have to open (read) and see what comes next. Almost against their will!

One tip, write your copy first and then work on the headline until you get it right.

You’ve been Framed!

I needed some pictures framed the week before last week (three in total) and, not having a Picture Framing company in my networking group, decided to contact four local framers by email. I could send the same specification to them all, right at that moment. It was Thursday evening at 9.00pm.

After a quick Google search I found my four framers; basically the four that were based nearest to me.

Next morning (Friday), just after 10.30am, I received my first reply. The company gave prices, a delivery time, and said that they were sure that they could help me.

Later that afternoon I received my second reply. The prices were much higher and subject to sight of my pictures. Again they included a delivery time, which was longer than that of the first company.

I didn’t hear back from the other two companies; my emails didn’t bounce, and to this day never have.

Given that the first company who had replied, had done so quickly, and that their prices were the best, I decided to go and visit them.

Their shop was busy, being a Saturday (in Guildford), but when I mentioned my name they knew who I was and what they had quoted. They asked to look at my pictures, confirmed that the prices given were correct, showed me the choice of frames and advised on suitable mounts. Then I asked about delivery. They said that they could have them done by the following Saturday to which I replied that I was having a dinner party that day and had rather hoped to have them on display. Their answer was just what I was hoping for: they would have them done on Friday.

To my delight the pictures were ready on the Friday and the framing was excellent.

Picture Frame David Wimblett

So, what can we all learn from this?

First, that speed really makes a difference as to whether you get a business opportunity or not.

Second, that a really well-worded quote makes a big difference. I liked the fact that they were so positive about being able to help me.

Third, that price is important, but not the only reason people buy. Had this company been more expensive I would have still checked them out because of the other two points above.

Fourth, that the actual personal sales experience needs to match, if not better, the pre-sales experience (which it did).

Fifth, that if you advertise your business you just must respond to the people that contact you. So many sales are lost to companies that don’t.

I am sure that there is even more that can be learned from my experience but my question to you is this. How would your business have done in similar circumstances?

6-Love, 6-Love, 6-Love. Oh dear!

Wimbledon started today and it got me thinking of tennis and from there to a time that I dropped into a David Lloyd centre, I have to admit without an appointment, but even so their customer service was far below what it should have been and certainly it lost them my business.

I have no problem with being kept waiting at reception. As I say, I didn’t have an appointment. I had explained what I wanted to the person at the desk, given her my business card, and she had then disappeared for five, maybe six, minutes, stopping on the way for a chat with one of her colleagues. On her return she informed me that the manager was too busy to see me and that he would contact me later that day – the next day at the latest. No problem with that? Well to be honest there is. Why let a potential customer walk out of your building without talking to them?

However, back to my story. While I was waiting I could see the receptionist, through the class panel of the manager’s office door, talking to someone (I guessed it was the manager) and it looked like they were having a good time, as there seemed to be a fair amount of joking around going on. As I left the centre I have to say that I was thinking: they had time to fool around but the manager had no time to pop out and see me. To say “Hello, sorry I’m really busy, but would you like to make an appointment?” How long would that have taken? What impression would that have made on me?

Now I don’t know how busy the manager was, but perception is everything, and I certainly was not impressed. I was offering a possible £20k worth of meetings’ business over the next year. Wouldn’t that have been worth a minute of his time – however busy he was?

But, that wasn’t where they really lost the match. That came later, as I have never, to this day, had a phone call from them! I just can’t understand it!

So, my question to you – are you totally sure that your sales staff, reception staff, whole team, are winning you business and not just letting it slip through their fingers?

If in any doubt, you can always employ a mystery shopper to find out.

Networking – the biggest mistake: selling!

I was at a networking event recently with well over two hundred other business people.  About half way through the evening there was a speaker. He asked us all a question.  ‘How many of you are here this evening with something to sell?’  Just about every hand went up.  He then asked us another question.  ‘How many of you are here to buy something?’  For the second time my hand didn’t move, but what was more to the point, only a few hands went up.  The speaker then said, ‘Well you are all pretty much stuffed then aren’t you!’  Everyone laughed, but he had made his point!

So, what’s the point of networking?

Well, it’s certainly not to sell.  If you think about it logically, what are the chances of someone you don’t know, wanting to buy what you are selling, just at that exact moment?  Answer: just about zero.

There is only one reason to go networking and only one.  Forget collecting business cards, eating great food, or not so great food, and having a glass of wine.

Networking is all about the beginning of a relationship.  Finding people that are also interested in exploring the possibilities of a future relationship and who are happy to meet at a later date for a coffee.  That’s it! Nothing more.

So, forget all of your sales brochures and samples, and instead find out who is at the networking event, who may be a good contact for you, and how you in turn may be a good contact for them.  Locate them, introduce yourself politely, ask lots about them, ask interesting questions, listen intently and see if they would like to meet another time.

I promise you, you will soon have a diary of appointments, and not just a desk piled high with soon forgotten business cards.

Introduce Yourself

Often you will not have the luxury of someone else introducing you at a networking event, so it is important that you are practised in doing it yourself.

What makes this even more imperative is the fact that most of us make assumptions about the people we meet within the very first few seconds of meeting them.  What’s more, that first impression is hard to shake or to change.

So, what can we do to ensure that the first impression we give is the one that we want those that we meet to form?

Well, the answer, as with most things in life, is to prepare: to practise.

You need to define your message.  However you introduce yourself is what will be accepted by the other person.  Will it be with confidence and energy, or just dull?  What will make you interesting?  Please don’t say’ “I’m a – whatever you are”.  It’s just so boring!  Make yourself stand out from the crowd: be different from the masses and you will be remembered.  Another very important thing is to ask great questions.  Once you have passed the opening small-talk (but interesting) stage ask great questions.  People love to talk about themselves, so be interested in them; don’t just talk about you.

Then what about your appearance?  Do you look as you want to be thought of?  Do you look like people in your profession should look?  You may not think it is important, but remember those first few seconds.  It’s their judgement that counts, not yours, and that will gain you more business. Do you look successful; someone they would want to do business with?

Also remember that a great deal of communication is non-verbal: your mood can be picked up.  So imagine that you are on stage.  Before you enter any room, be it networking, a sales meeting, whatever, stop and calm yourself, put everything other than what is about to happen from your mind, imagine what you want to be, and then enter the room.

Make your introduction interesting and you will have better conversations. And, better conversations will lead to more opportunities.