Blog

3 Keys To Success -- Visibility, Credibility and Relationships

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, May, 28, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

3 keys to success for you and your company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at the blog posts I've been writing over the past few years, I'm seeing a trend in the three things every person, and every company, needs to be successful today:

  1. Visibility

  2. Credibility

  3. Relationships

Following are my thoughts on ways for individuals, and companies, to improve each:

  • Visibility
  1. Build brand awareness by sharing information of value.
     
  2. The more you blog, the more awareness, traffic and leads you will get; your SEO rankings will improve as well.

  3. Use P.R. A lot of people think P.R. is dead in the age of social media. However, there are still plenty of vertical trade publications, and websites, looking for information of value to share with their readers. P.R. is another channel in which you can repurpose content.

  4. Leverage all of your content to educate your customers and your prospects. It's amazing what you can learn to do on your own by searching YouTube. C-level executives are 7-times more likely to look at a video than to download and read a whitepaper.

  5. Stay active on LinkedIn. Update your profile, your company's profile and actively participate in, and contribute to groups. I've found groups to be a tremendous resource when sourcing products and services.

  6. Have a mobile presence -- especially if you're trying to reach millennials. 80% have a smart phone, 85% of Hispanics. Ensure all of your digital communications are mobile optimized.
  • Credibility
  1. Build extreme trust. "Do what you say you'll do when you say you'll do it."

  2. Be consistent. While some people say, "consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," it's the only way to build trust. Consistency = trust. Inconsistency = confusion and distrust.
     
  3. Ensure your management team, and employees, are in alignment with regards to vision, mission, values and what makes you "different and better." Lack of alignment results in inconsistent messages to customers and prospects.

  4. Another reason to provide information of value is to build credibility. Providing information of value early in the relationship lets the prospect get to know you. Don't sell, just educate.

  5. Empower employees to deliver a consistently good customer experience. Consistency builds trust. "Wow" customer experiences will create "raving fans" that will help market your product or service.

  6. Put the customer first in everything you do. Help customers win, make their lives easier, and you'll have customers for life.

  • Relationships
  1. Strive to have customers for life. It's like aiming for the moon, even if you don't achieve your goal, you'll positively differentiate yourself from the competition.

  2. Have face-to-face conversations with your customers and prospects to get to know them as individuals. People like to do business with those they know, like and trust. Face-to-face conversations help to build long-term relationships.

  3. Help customers make an emotional connection to your brand by letting them get to know the people that comprise your brand. People connect with other people. Empower and encourage your employees to connect with customers and prospects -- in person and via social media.

  4. Listen intensely to your customers and prospects to understand their needs and wants. These consumer insights will lead to new product development, service enhancements, new revenue streams and repeat business.

  5. Referrals and word-of-mouth are still the most powerful, and cost efficient, forms of marketing. Give your customers experiences they want to share with others.

  6. As you enhance your relationships with your customers, you'll find that they want you to be successful. Don't be afraid to let them know how they can help you.

What actions can you take to make you and your company more successful?

 

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book
 

 

Tags: emotional connection to the brand, customers for life, consumer insights, information of value, alignment, extreme trust, face to face communications

5 Reasons Customers Leave and 9 Ways to Keep Them

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Sep, 24, 2013 @ 06:09 AM

5 Reasons customers leave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Ken Dooley and the Sales and Marketing Business Brief for these reminders (http://bit.ly/q4wSfk).

5 Reasons Customers Leave

  1. 1% pass away
  2. 3% move
  3. 14% are lured by a competitor
  4. 14% are turned away by product or service dissatisfaction
  5. 68% leave because of poor attitude or indifference on the part of the service provider

Control what you can

The survey points out that salespeople have little control over the first four reasons why customers leave, which account for 32% of those that depart. But salespeople and business owners have complete control over at least 68% of the customers who leave.

As such, it's in your best in your best interest to empower your employees to be engaged and encouraged to provide an outstanding customer experience.

9 Ways to Keep Them

Here are nine critical skills that will help you, and your reps, establish and maintain the right attitude with your customers — and keep them from jumping ship:

  1. Exceed expectations. Personalize your service. Instead of promising more than you can give, give more than you promise -- under promise, over deliver. Deliver a "wow" customer experience.
  2. Always be available. Be there to serve customers whenever they need you to be there. The Internet has enabled companies to have a constant presence with their customers, “24/7.” Reliability and availability are vital. Make sure your customers know you are available on demand. Be involved in the same social media channels as your customers.
  3. Customize how you serve. Find or develop solutions that fulfill your individual customers’ specific needs. Successful salespeople customize their business relationships with customers. They pride themselves on their one-on-one interactions. These salespeople value the differences in customer needs and respond with customized solutions.
  4. Be easy to deal with. Make doing business with you easy and pleasurable. Assume the burden of relieving inevitable aggravations for your customers. Salespeople who exceed their customers’ expectations do so by creating hassle-free experiences.
  5. Put the customer first. Don’t wait for opportunities to present themselves. Seek them out. Give customers more than they expect.
  6. Resolve conflicts and solve problems. When conflicts arise, some salespeople have a tendency to deny them, debate them, shift responsibility for them, place blame for them, or hold their breath hoping they’ll go away. Top salespeople accept ownership of the problem, collaborate on a solution, and take on the burden of finding a resolution regardless of fault.
  7. Handle complaints. Complaints usually have some validity and can be an “early warning system” of conflict on the horizon. When you view complaints this way, they can become your ally, helping you resolve problems and minimize their impact. Complaints that go unattended may evolve into conflicts that could have been avoided.
  8. Communicate constantly. Ask questions that result in a dialogue. The more the customer talks, the more you’ll learn. Continue questioning until you understand and have uncovered all the information required to proceed. Try to avoid jumping to conclusions with customers.
  9. Remember nonverbal communication. When communicating with customers, observe their non-verbal signals. Take note of their body language, appearance and posture. Look for signs of distraction. Pay attention to their facial expressions and eye contact. Listen to the tone of their voice as a means for understanding what they may be feeling.

Adapted from the book How You Do … What You Do: Create Service Excellence That Wins Clients for Life by Bob Livingston, CEO of REL Communications, a sales consulting group. 

How do you keep your customers and clients for life?

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book

Tags: transparency, earn your customers trust, honesty, honest communication, people do business with those they know like and t, extreme trust, integrity chain

6 Benefits of Being Transparent

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Sep, 16, 2013 @ 06:09 AM

benefits of being transparent

 

Great article by Roger D'Aprix entitled "Cultivating a Culture of Open Communication" in a recent edition of Communication World magazine.

The point of the article is that, "Without the conviction than an open communication culture is beneficial and necessary to business success, the effort will likely fail."  As with everything else in business, open communication cultures (OCCs) start at the top.

Lack of organizational boundaries and the need for collaboration and employee engagement to enhance innovation and competitiveness are key drivers for OCCs.

John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, is a big proponent of open communication and communicate regularly with the company's 73,000 employees.  Seventy-five percent of Cisco employees agree that the "Cisco leadership team communicates openly and honestly to employees."

An OCC is one in which information flows freely and is easily accessible to both insiders and the public at large.

Consistent with the culture and values of the organization, its leadership enables, advocates and provides open access to information in which employees, customers, shareholders and the general public have a legitimate interest.

In his book The Future of Management, Gary Hamel identifies three universal challenges for the 21st century organization:

  1. Building a company capable of continuous, trauma-free renewal in a changing world without precedents.
     
  2. Making innovation everyone's job.
     
  3. Creating a company culture that inspires everyone to  give their very best.

The first task for leadership is to rigorously define its own business case for greater openness.  Without the conviction that an OCC is beneficial and necessary to business success, the effort will likely fail.

In their 2010 report, Towers Watson found that companies that met their standards for highly effective communication had 47 percent higher total returns to shareholders over the five-year period from mid-2004 to mid-2009.

Here are six other proven performance benefits of an OCC:

  1. A culture of communications, integrity and innovation increases employees' discretionary effort (source: Corporate Leadership Council).
     
  2. There is a direct relationship between employee and customer satisfaction (Northwestern University).
     
  3. Satisfied employees create loyal customers.  A five percent increase in customer loyalty yields a 25 to 95% profit increase (Frederick Reichheld in The Loyalty Effect: The Hidden Force Behind Growth, Profits and Lasting Value).
     
  4. The primary driver of employee satisfaction is effective communication (Northwestern University).
     
  5. Communicating a clear vision of the future is the number one factor in building employee commitment (Melcrum).
     
  6. Internal communication is the top factor in determining a CEO's reputation, which in turn is critical to shareholder value (Burson-Marstellar).

Does your company have an open communication culture?  Can it?

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book

Tags: transparency, be reliable, be responsive, extreme trust, be relevant, employee empowerment, face to face communications

No Values, No Trust. No Trust, No Customers.

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Sep, 05, 2013 @ 06:09 AM

Values, integrity, trust

 

I recently had a second telephone interview for a chief marketing officer position with the CEO of a start-up.

The first interview lasted one hour and went very well.

We agreed the CEO would send me a non-disclosure agreement and several documents for my review to provide more insights on their technology and market opportunity.

During the second telephone interview I shared my observations and opportunities as well as where I believed I could contribute to help the company achieve its growth goals.

I suggested we meet in person and that's when the CEO said this was a "hybrid deal" and I would be expected to invest $300,000 in the company in order to be considered further for the position.

If the CEO had told me this up front, I would not have continued the conversation, signed his NDA, spent the weekend reviewing the documents he sent, nor share my thoughts on how they could successfully approach the market.

The CEO's lack of transparency and ethics has left me feeling very negatively towards him and the company. 

He asked me to send any one else his way who may be interested in the opportunity.

Why would I want to do that to anyone I know?

I looked on this company's website for their values and didn't find any. I guess that's better than finding some that are not lived up to.

People like to do business with people they know like and trust. If I don't trust you, I don't want to do business with you.

If this company treats prospective members of their management team with this level of disrespect, openness and lack of integrity, I can only imagine how they treat prospective customers.

Treat a customer or prospect in this way, in a very small and insular industry, and word will travel fast.  

While you may have bleeding-edge technology, no one will want to do business with you becase they can't trust you to be forthcoming or to do what you say you'll do when you say you'll do it.

Personal integrity is "doing what you say you'll do when you say you'll do it."

Corporate integrity is when every member of the company follows the same philosophy.

Integrity leads to trust. Trust leads to repeat business. Repeat business leads to profitiability.

Does your company have values? Do you earn your customer's trust?

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book

 

Tags: transparency, earn your customers trust, honesty, honest communication, people do business with those they know like and t, extreme trust, integrity chain

Build Extreme Trust to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Aug, 12, 2013 @ 06:08 AM

build extreme trust to accelerate sales

 

Don Peppers and Martha Rogers recently published a new book, Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage.

It's premise is consistent with Dr. Ralph James' book, The Integrity Chain, about which I've posted many times.

Consumers are sharing so much information about products, services and companies online that they are beginning to demand higher levels of trustworthiness and transparency.  This is what Peppers and Rogers refer to as "extreme trust."

Don Peppers provides examples of two companies who exemplify "extreme trust" -- Amazon and iTunes, which will both remind you that you've already purchased an item and ask you if you really want to purchase it again rather than go ahead and let you buy a duplicate of what you already have.

Amazon and iTunes are watching out for their customers rather than blindly taking their money.  This in-turn build a more trusting relationship.

Contrast this with an airline that won't let you get on an earlier flight, that has empty seats, without charging you a "change fee" or a cellular phone company failing to proactively tell you about a new rate package that would be more economical for you based on you past usage.

Companies that put the customer first will:

  1. Build a more trustworthy and loyal customer-base
  2. Have customers that buy more and buy more frequently
  3. Have customers that will tell others about their outstanding experience
  4. Be more profitable

As Peppers and Rogers note, "having customers who want you to succeed is a very important aspect of this strategy."

Raving fans can do amazing things for your business.

What are you doing that's in your customers' best interests?

Tags: consumer insights, accelerate sales, extreme trust, integrity chain, raving fans