By Andy Paul
For those who are unfamiliar with my Zero-Time Selling solutions, in my book of the same name I prescribe 10 sales practices that are so simply effective that they’re almost revolutionary.
In Zero-Time Selling I spend a lot of ink talking about the importance of follow-up and how to use responsiveness to create value for the customer and win more orders in less time. Being responsive and following up are such easy things to do. They are activities that every salesperson and every manager controls. Do these two simple things consistently and your sales will improve.
And yet it seems that every day I encounter examples of poor follow-up and unintentionally bad sales service that could easily be avoided. I have a short story from my book to illustrate the point.
In Zero-Time Selling I describe an incident that occurred a few years ago. A prolonged drought had driven several million thirsty ants from my backyard into my kitchen. They were marching in thick black lines across the white tile floors. I needed help and searched online for a local exterminator. The first company listed on Google search returns claimed to have an organic, technological solution for exterminating pests that was safe for people and pets. Perfect! My dogs would appreciate that, and my ants would hate it. So I dialed the 24-hour hotline. I was ready to buy.
The “hotline” offered up a recording that invited me to leave a message for one of their customer service technicians. Then the exuberant female voice on the recording proudly trumpeted: “Our company policy: your phone call will be returned within 24 hours. Guaranteed!”
Twenty-four hours. They thought that was fast. My thought was, “I have ants all over my house and I need to take care of it now.” I called the next pest-control company on the list. A live person answered the phone and set me up with a same-day appointment.
That first pest-control company I called had the perfect opportunity to capture my business. But like a lot of companies, they prized their own convenience over good customer service and tried to turn that into a virtue. Instead they communicated three negative messages to me and all other prospective customers:
1. Your call is not that important to us. In fact, you won’t even speak to a live person when you call.
2. The only guarantee we can offer is that we won’t call you back until tomorrow. What’s the rush? We’ve given ourselves 24 hours.
3. We need to have a company policy in place to force someone to call you back at all.
Many companies fool themselves into believing they are offering great customer service when, in fact, they are advertising the opposite.
Have you fallen into the same trap?
Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops and consults with sales teams of all sizes to teach them how to use responsiveness, speed and intelligent processes to increase sales. Enjoy what you just read? Sign up for our regular digest of valuable Zero-Time Selling sales tips and strategies, “Selling with Maximum Impact.”
© Andy Paul 2013