Category Archives: Business Relationships
“Terry Tate, Office Linebacker” was a Superbowl commercial in 2003.
Still one of my favourites.
Have a FANTASTIC weekend everyone!
I had a run in with the District Manager at a large retail account of mine many years ago. We had “philosophical differences” regarding my coverage of one of their stores, and one incident in particular upset him.
My relationship was less than solid with that location’s management team, and I received very little support from the sales associates. During my third year working with the account, the senior manager requested that I conduct another product knowledge meeting for his team on a Saturday morning. I had done that type of training before, but had become frustrated by their lack of support.
I will never forget what I said to him in response to his request that I take time out of my weekend to do training. My wording was all wrong. I said that I would not receive the “bang for the buck” to go and train his team now, and would wait until I received more support from them.
I did not mean for it to come out that way, but it did, and I had to live with the consequences. I remember the rest of the story like it was yesterday. I was numb all over and I felt like I was going to throw up! He stormed in to his office, and started dialing the phone to my regional office. I swear there was smoke coming out of his ears! It was after 4 pm, and my General Manager had typically left by then. But as fate would have it, he was still in the office that day!
By this time I had walked in to his office, I was pleading for him to get off the phone so we could work through the issue together. He was requesting a new sales rep from my General Manager (while I was standing right in front of him). To my General Manager’s credit, he was able to calm him down, and I was able to talk things through with my boss the next day. My management team knew this man quite well, and was aware that he was not my favorite person. I explained my side of the story, and eventually was able to convince the store’s District Manager to keep me on as the rep for both locations.
I was not worried about losing the underperforming branch, but was terrified to lose the local branch that I had worked so diligently to grow over the years. To say the least, I choose my words very carefully in the future, to avoid other conflicts. I retained both branches, but the weaker place never met my expectations.
It is difficult to keep your emotions in check and not say what is on your mind in certain situations. But using your “outside voice” instead of your “inside voice” can have negative ramifications, especially if you catch somebody on a bad day! I learned that the hard way. I will never forget that feeling deep in the pit of my stomach when I almost lost one of my biggest accounts right before my eyes!
- Have you ever wished you had used your “inside voice” rather than your “outside voice” in a specific situation during your career?
- If so, what were the results of you speaking out loud?
Email me at TimMushey@gmail.com to share your story, and I will post the best response on my blog next week!
I enjoyed this post from Bob McIntosh earlier today. These tips should be very helpful for those “introverts” as their heart races when they enter the room at a networking event.
And how not to arrive to an event unprepared.
I was once given a ticket to a guest-speaker event put on for a group of young professionals in my community. I was excited and grateful for the opportunity because I’d be seeing Erik Qualman speak about social media—Erik wrote Socialnomics and is a great speaker. I would be able to sit comfortably and listen to an expert on social networking entertain me. So I thought.
When I arrived at the event I discovered there would be a networking hour preceding it, and that I was woefully under-dressed. My vision of kicking back and listening to a great speaker was dashed when I entered a hallway full of people dressed to the nines engaged in conversation. I promptly went to the men’s room, looked at my sad self in the mirror, and exited the building.
I needed air. It took me a few…
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As I attempted to write this post over several days, I struggled to make it interesting. On the surface, “how well do you know your customers” can be dismissed as a generic topic that does not peak people’s curiosity.
“Of course I know my customers Tim. What are you talking about?”
I can hear you making silly comments to your computer screen now!
In all seriousness, what I am about to say will have tremendous value for you long-term with your current customers and prospects. Be honest with yourselves. How well do you really know your customers?
I went on joint calls with one of my Sales Manager quite often. After one particular call (visiting Bob and John), he asked me what I learned about the two associates. I drew a blank for a minute and said that I did not know. His reply,
“Bob loves to golf, and has twin daughters who are 12 years old. The family likes going to Mexico every winter”.
“John is single, enjoys playing recreational sports, and has two dogs”
I asked him why knowing this would matter. He responded by saying that now that I knew some information about each of their personal lives, it would be easier to keep discussions going in the future. Speaking to them about business was always the primary goal, but when it was time to have casual conversations, personal topics would really get them engaged. One word answers like “yes”, “no” & “inaudible mumbles” would not be an issue then.
They might like to talk about their kids, their golf game, current sports stories, upcoming holidays, or hobbies. I always stayed away from touchy subjects like religion and politics. It was not worth the hassle if a nerve was struck with someone. Previously I would often go in to calls and talk about the weather, or something that was in the news. But it was not personal to them.
How awesome would it be for you to look into a customer’s eyes and remember any of the above details (even what they take in their coffee), by only asking once? Better yet, how awesome would it be for them to know that you cared enough to remember?
The key to keeping details straight (and not confusing Bob and John) is to record them as soon as possible. Take a few minutes after a call, sit in your car and write things down. Test yourself – can you remember three things you learned about your account today? And don’t expect that you’ll remember all of this at the end of the day. A few minutes early on will pay off in the long run.
You can also dig deeper, in terms of the “rules of communication” with the account contacts:
- Do they want you to make an appointment first, or is it ok to just drop in unannounced?Do they like to be contacted by email, text, cell phone or land line?
- Is there a best time of day to drop by if just stopping in?
- How often do they want to be visited?
The earlier you make notes on each account, the sooner you will understand the level of engagement they want. You may want to engage them face to face more than they want to be engaged, so you have to find that balance and not be a nuisance.
Oh yeah, work your butt off to remember their names as soon as possible. That is a must! Statistics prove that people respond better to what you are saying when their names are used during conversations. I had documents that I would refer to before going in to each call.
I don’t care how you record this information, as long as you do it. It could be through CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, task lists on email programs, iPhones, Blackberries etc. Heck, good old-fashioned notebooks still worked last time I checked! But it is imperative that you have separate files for each account to avoid confusion and disorganization.
Showing interest in customer’s personal lives, and remembering minor details that nobody else takes the time to, will strengthen relationships more often than not. The primary goal in sales is to obviously sell stuff; but the ones who show genuine interest in their customers and CARE will win in the long run.
Kelley Robertson is somebody in the sales training space that I admire greatly, and is a fellow Canadian if I may add! In this video, he outlines four situations when you can earn the right to move the sales process forward or ask for the sale.
Kelley is very active on Twitter, and you can follow him at @FearlessSelling
He has an excellent blog which can be found at http://fearless-selling.ca/blog/
Enjoy the video and be sure to connect with Kelley!