Do your people have to get your permission to satisfy customers?

A Challenge…

Here is a challenge for you.  Make a commitment to yourself (before this week is out) to ask your top customers why they like doing business with you. 

Ask them, “Why do you buy from us?” 

 It might surprise you to discover what makes you popular instead of what you think makes you popular.  Do you know what your top selling product or service is?  Do you know what people like best about doing business with you?  The answer will reveal a wealth of potential profits for you and your organisation.

Why? Because once you know what people want most, you can sell them more and at higher profits. 
People pay (and will pay even more) for what they see value in. 

Don’t believe me?  

Starbucks is a very good and somewhat expensive coffee shop.    When they were first introduced they were criticised by many for selling overpriced coffee.  But I saw a report on the news last week that they just surpassed Burger King and Wendy’s to become the 3rd largest chain of restaurants in the US. Only McDonald’s and Subway have them beat…so far.

 Look at how fast iPhones went off the shelves at Verizon earlier this year…at higher prices and with required contracts.  Almost immediately, AT&T was forced to cut their prices to sell the same phones. 
It didn’t matter.  Customers wanted better service and were willing to pay to get it.

It’s NOT About Price

What a surprise I received when I began looking for a new air conditioning system for our house last month.  Our old unit hasn’t worked properly, so before it got too hot in Georgia, we began looking for a completely new system.

What a surprise.  Who would think buying an air conditioner would be such a sales learning experience.  One salesman tried to run down every other company in town.  Still another tried to prove that his system and service was superior (oversold it to us is more accurate).  Finally, one criticised us for getting bids from anyone else.  They all seemed to have answers to questions they asked.

After several exhausting interviews, some friends suggested a local company who helped them after a storm.  They said this company was the only one who came and said, “We will fix your problem” – not: “How much money did the insurance company give you?”

Hugh, the representative came on an incredibly hot day and immediately asked if we were comfortable at night in our home.  We said we weren’t.  Then he told us what we had wanted someone to say (no one had yet), “Whether you choose us or not, I won’t leave your system without enough Freon (refrigerants) in it today. You won’t sleep hot tonight.”

He didn’t try to sell us a system (Features); he sold us on having a cool night (Benefits)!  He didn’t have to get permission from the boss to satisfy us.  He added Freon on the spot.  He had the authority to make his company and boss look good by making us happy.

No slick presentation.  No list of awards/accomplishments.  No put-downs.  Just asked what we really wanted… and delivered it.

We hired him.  We didn’t have to think about it.  He won our business by asking us what we wanted and giving us what we needed.

Empowering Hugh to satisfy the customer made him the winner in the “Keep Our Family Cool” contest. 
By the way, his bid wasn’t the least expensive.  But it was the best because the value he delivered came with it.  We would have paid almost anything to get cool without being ripped off.

Do your people have to get your permission to make you look good to customers?

 Do your sales or service staff have to run and get “mummy’s” or “Daddy’s “OK” to service the customer?  Whenever I encounter that, I would rather talk to the person with the authority, not the one with just responsibility.

Don’t you?

If you start asking people why they are buying from you, you just might discover that you are selling something that you weren’t even aware you had in your inventory.  You might discover an untapped resource that is creating a movement of large numbers of customers choosing you and your company that they can’t get from anyone anywhere else. 

What is the top product or service they buy from you?  Why do they like to do business with you?

Once you give people the authority to make day-to-day decisions you will see them take on new responsibilities.  If you are hiring people and giving them responsibility with NO authority, no wonder they are frustrated with their jobs…and you as their leader.

Have you ever had a job with responsibility and no authority?  Did you like it?  Neither do your people.  If they were good enough to get the job (which speaks to your hiring and vetting process), then they should get authority to actually do the job.  They will take on the responsibility as the needs arise.  It will also free you up to do more important things on your priority list.

From Policies to Perks
Companies spend fortunes every year trying to determine what will sell the best in a new market, but don’t spend a dime on finding out what is already selling best.  Oh, the some of the big ones do this (on occasion), but it is very rare.  One major auto manufacturer wanted to encourage people to buy only from dealerships.  They were so angry that their customers were buying on-line, they waited for months before beefing up their internet presence.  Finally it was almost too little, too late.

 I work with many business people who feel they have an overstock of unwanted products that they must push to customers – who neither want or need it but will finally capitulate and buy if only enough pressure is applied.  How wrong! 

Do you know what people value when you sell to them?

Customers know what they need, but most sales people don’t have a clue.  They already buy from you and me for a reason; but we fail to find out who is buying and why

 Doesn’t that make sense?

 I heard a service representative for a company I was working with say that he was successful whenever he “gave in” and started giving their customers what they wanted. 


Do you have some “policy” in place that prevents people from getting what they want from you? 

Many companies do the same thing in their “policies” and lack of service to their customers and prospects.  What is your business doing right now that ignores who is buying from you, why they are buying and what they buy?

Turn the policies for you into perks for your customers and watch everything improve.

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