Category Archives: Sales

Is customer service going out of style?

I would like to start this blog with an apology.  It seems that many of these blogs involve me complaining about one thing or another, typically customer service situations.  But in my defense, I think that customer service is going downhill and that needs to be addressed.  So here I am, back again with yet another story about poor service, but hopefully it will have a positive outcome and inspire you to step it up in your own business!

I wrote in a previous blog about my best friend’s passing in September.  Lindsay had ovarian cancer, and her family is really working hard to help the Vicki Welsh Fund get the message out there about this horrible disease.  This weekend, they are throwing out the first pitch at a softball game that is being held in honor of Lindsay to raise awareness for lINDSAY2 black
ovarian cancer.  What a great cause!  They decided they would like to have shirts made for the game, so at a moment when my creative juices were flowing, I designed a shirt and reached out to a few printing companies to see what could be done to make my design a reality.  I sent detailed messages, explaining what the shirts were for, when I would need them, approximately how many I would need and I also attached pictures of my design so they would know what they were working with.  Seeing as these are locally owned businesses, I was fully expecting out of this world customer service, because small businesses cannot typically afford to offer any less.  However, I was unpleasantly surprised with what actually happened.  I sent my first emails 10 days before I would need the shirts, knowing this would give everyone plenty of time to complete the project.  However, FIVE days later I was shocked to find myself following up with all three companies as none of them had given me a quote yet.  One of them responded right away with “$25.00.”  That was literally the only thing in the email body; no salutation, no apology for taking so long.  Just numbers.  In my mind, I immediately crossed this company off the list, vowing that even if the others were more expensive I would not give this company my business.  The next company emailed back with “Send me your artwork, we can get those made this week.”  Ok, that’s nice, but you still haven’t told me how much it will cost!  So I responded, AGAIN asking for a quote and waited for the response.  It did not come for two more days.  This was three days before I needed the shirts done; could they even make them in that short of a time?  I’ll never know, because I gave that company the boot as well.  The company I ended up using was the lesser of three evils, which as you’ve seen is not saying much.  In their favor, they did send a nice email apologizing for taking so long and included a quote for the shirts.  I collected orders from Lindsay’s family members and sent them right over to the shirt company.  I was hoping for confirmation that the order had been received, as we were working on a pretty tight deadline at this point, but of course that didn’t come, even after I sent a friendly text checking in.  When I did finally get an email, it was all irritating news: 1. When she originally quoted the shirts, she did not include the artwork on the sleeve that was IN PLAIN SIGHT in the picture I sent her.  Ok, no big deal.  I moved that artwork to the back, keeping us at the same cost.  2. There will be an extra $40 setup charge for any order with less than 24 items.  So when I told her we would need 20 shirts, why didn’t she include the $40 in the quote? 3.  I would need to convert the artwork to PDF, otherwise there will be an extra $20 charge.  $20 to convert to PDF?  That is outrageous.  Luckily, I have the capability to do so, and therefore avoided that charge.  In my final email to her, getting her all of the information she needed to complete the order, I asked for a final total after tax so I could let everyone know before the game on Saturday.  I’m still waiting for that response.

Image result for someecards customer service

Who knew that having t-shirts made could be such an ordeal?  Hopefully I will be able to find a quality company to use for the next time we need to do something like this.  But in the meantime, I hope this little story will remind you of how important customer service is!  Just because you are corresponding through email does not mean you should not use full sentences.  Be polite and show your customer that you care.  Also, remember to respond!  We all get busy and sometimes forget, but if you own a business, you can’t afford to lose customers.  Respond in a timely fashion if you want their business.  Finally, before you send the email, read through all of your correspondence and make sure all of their questions have been answered.  This will save time and allow you to move on to other pressing matters that need your attention.

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And again…

insanity

According to this quote, you can definitely consider my husband and myself certifiably insane.  Because we yet again chose to attend a Wyndham sales pitch believing that it would be more about education, and less about taking our money.  Because, of course, when we signed up for the meeting we were TOLD it would be more about education and less about taking our money.  In case you haven’t read this piece, I’ll give you a little back story: We have owned a Wyndham timeshare for about 5 years now, and we really do love it.  We always have a nice place to stay, with wonderful amenities and of course with young children, having a multi-bedroom suite with a full kitchen is like a dream compared to a cramped hotel room.  Our latest trip was to Washington D.C. where my husband had a trade show to attend for work.  During the days when he was working, I cannot even imagine having to stay in a small hotel room and still provide meals and naps for the boys, while holding on to my sanity.  The only complaint or negative comment we ever have about our stay is the brutal sales meeting we always attend.  Don’t get me wrong – we are not FORCED to attend these meetings.  But the incentive is usually pretty amazing.  This time, they offered to pay for our parking for the week, which was quite a hefty chunk of change!  But once again, we left the meeting saying it wasn’t worth it.  It’s never worth it!  This particular meeting really frustrated me because of the verbiage that was being used over and over again, which was in complete contrast to the actions of the sales staff.  The phrase I heard over and over again from our salesperson, as well as all of the sales staff around us, was “doing my due diligence.”  So you aren’t interested in buying more points at this time?  Well I wouldn’t be doing my due diligence if I did not talk to you about how much you could benefit by purchasing more points!  Still not interested?  I wouldn’t be doing my due diligence if I didn’t leave the table and get advice from my manager on how to close this deal.   Starting to get exhausted from thinking of different ways to say no?  I wouldn’t be doing my due diligence if I didn’t bring my manager over to put on the pressure.  By continually referencing their “due diligence,” they were implying that they were truly trying to help us, but in reality they were just trying to help us spend our money.

What really frustrates me about the whole thing is the dishonesty of it all.  If they said to me “Laura, we want to try and sell you more points and in return we will give you a crisp $100 bill; it’s supposed to last an hour, but you’ll probably be there for two,” I would most likely feel less anger at the end of the meeting.  At least I knew what I was signing up for!  But instead, they convince you that their place is different – they aren’t selling, they are EDUCATING.  But they still require that both spouses attend, children in tow, no matter how inconvenient that may be.  Don’t worry, after I finish this blog I will begin my strongly worded email to the powers that be expressing my disdain for the situation.  But the good thing is that it reminded me once again how far honesty can take you; I will never purchase something from someone I don’t trust.  Even if I have to pay a little more, knowing that the person with whom I am working is honest and dependable is priceless.

 

The right way to grow your business

Recently, I wrote about the sleazy sales techniques employed by the sales team at our timeshare resort. My husband is in sales and marketing and is always watching and critiquing other strategies and styles to see if there are things that he can use to improve his job performance.

There are seven sales tips that he took from these interactions and they are as follows:

(1) Be genuine – The designer suit, huge Rolex watch, and aroma of cologne that can be sensed from the other side of town are renowned traits of sleazy salesmen.

(2) Be respectful of other’s time -The time available for you to get your message across to your prospects is limited and this is even tighter if you are working with a family who have young children. This was the case with our family at our recent timeshare presentation. There were clear signs that the salesman had to get a move on including a screaming baby, a 2 year old who couldn’t sit still any longer and my husband who repeatedly said “you will need to get a move on please as the boys can’t last much longer”. All of these signs were ignored and the only person the salesman was interested in was himself.

(3) Be in a business that you are passionate about – The two people that we spoke to were clearly working from a script and there was no originality to the content of their presentations. There was no passion for the position and you could tell that this was purely a job for both men. Their scripted style did not allow for interruptions by children, or changes based on their clients’ personalities.  A passion for your work allows for more off the cuff conversation and makes room for personalized techniques.

(4) Provide value to your potential customers – We spent approximately  75 minutes in the sales office and at the end of things we hadn’t learned anything new. The topic that we were told the talk was going to be about hadn’t even been discussed with our sales representative. An event that we thought would be very helpful and allow us to make more of our investment in the timeshare, ended up costing us 75 minutes of our vacation. However, it did provide us with some great material for these blogs!

(5) Be honest – Over-promising and under-delivering is a frequent event in the sales world. The salesman will do whatever he can to get the customer in the door, and then the poor operations team are left to pick up the pieces. Let your prospective customer know what you can and can’t do, but be sure to help them find the solutions that they are searching for. Lies and deceit can only get you so far before things start collapsing on you, and at this point it is very difficult to recover.

(6) Don’t over do it – Just because someone doesn’t buy your product or services, doesn’t mean that they won’t recommend  you to their friends and family. It might just be the wrong time for them right now, but this won’t stop them from telling people about you if they see value. If we had been treated correctly at our sales presentation, I would have been more than happy to make referrals. However, due to the miserable experience that we suffered, the only thing that we will be doing is telling people NOT to look into this company.

(7) Relax – Make it a two way conversation, not just you feeding information to your customers. You might have the best product in town, but if it doesn’t mean anything to the consumer, you are just wasting your breath and everyone’s time. Your family passes to the local amusement park might be the best for value in town, but if the person sat opposite you doesn’t have children, the chances of success are fairly slim. Find out more about the person you are conversing with and see if your product can help solve a problem that they are currently experiencing. My advice here is to act in a similar manner to my 2 year old son. Ask question  after question until you get the information that you need to present your business.

Image result for selling ice to an eskimo

Sales is a very difficult position to succeed in, especially if you are on 100% commission and under extreme pressure from your superiors. When possible, follow the 7 steps above and you will hopefully experience more success and enjoyment.

Check out this link for some more tips!