Tag Archives: Clients

SEARS receivership creates important learnings for you

There was a recent article in the NZ Herald on Wednesday 31 October which talked about the retail giants SEARS facing receivership.  

In the article it talks about how one of the largest  and successful retail chains in America was about to be put into receivership with debt of 11.3 billion dollars US and assets of only 7 billion.  It was interesting to read this article where as a brick and mortar retailer, SEARS had struggled due to a series of blunders, financial oversights and mis-management.  In the article it states that the ultimate business failure was that it did not acknowledge the needs of its customers and displayed a staggering inability to embrace and implement the sorts of technology the customer expected.  I look at this in a NZ concept and I still continue to see many of our service and retail providers encouraging their clients to use on-line platforms or on-line portals where one of the key service propositions is actually the face-to-face connection with the customer and holding relationships in the real.  Many of NZ customers want to have the loyal transaction with a business that they can trust.  

This is why this trust concept is so important in business today and the work that we are doing with many businesses is around how to deliver this level of trust and engagement with the customer in real and ensuring that it provides your customers with value which keeps them coming back over time.  The last thing that we want to do is to encourage clients to use unconventional formats without business structure and position correctly structured beforehand.  Can I ask you to consider today “how are you connecting with your customers in the real, bringing them into your environment wherever possible and creating greater experiences that will keep them coming back to see their trusted advisor.  

One of our key skills is to help companies identify if service propositions that brings the customer into your environment for a productive transaction.

Provide Extra Information To Add Credibility When Speaking To Customers

When your market is changing and possibly even decreasing in volume or sales value it is time to take stock of how you change your communication style when speaking to customers.

They will know if you are exaggerating or trying to gold plate or overstate the situation. Not only will your words seem to contradict what they know but your body language may betray you. The old saying that honesty is the best policy stands true in the changing market.

Firstly make sure that your research and information is up-to-date. Understand what various industry commentators foresee in the next six to12 months.   Then figure out how you can rephrase this and include examples in your marketplace to support or contradict it.  Provide extra information to add credibility when speaking to customers.   Specificity creates credibility.  So have specific examples on hand that are relevant to assure your customer that you are knowledgeable and credible.

Respond to questions with a point of view and a reason, summarising the point at the conclusion of the answer.  This more thorough and thoughtful answering of simple questions will further enhance your credibility.  You may even have to be ready to review the past present and future market outlook.  Having these prepared is a simple solution to being caught out and unable to answer the question.

People will see through bravado and exaggerated positivity. But if you speak knowledgeably about long and short term market trends your customers trust will increase.

Customer Expectations

Every day we meet and work with new, existing and past clients working our way through a transaction that leaves our customer with an impression or experience.  This experience is now becoming the buzz word and critical focus for many major corporates and multi-nationals alike.  The reason for this is the customer experience will often determine whether the customer becomes loyal and engaged with your brand.  If your client is not loyal and engaged, this will reduce business enterprise value.

Recently working with a particular client, we have been analyising their customer experience and analyising it to determine its effectiveness.  One of the best ways of creating support information was actually interviewing clients that had transacted with the company to get an understanding of the experience the customer received and how they felt about it.  This research showed what the business thought was of value, the client didn’t actually recognize and the items the customer needed were often overlooked.

Concept for this month

The first step of this process is to define your current customer experience and determine what are the steps that you need to create an ‘above expectation’ outcome.  A good example of this is to send a gift (box of chocolates) to the customer.  After your first enquiry or fact find appointment saying “thank you for your enquiry” or “new order”.  Once you have done this, I recommend talking to past clients using an independent person to collect some customer experience feedback.  This will enable you to ensure your service value proposition is meeting and ultimately exceeding your customer’s expectations.

Summary

Analyze your customer experience and develop a strategy to exceed your client’s real expectations.

5 Tips for Professional Business-Writing

Not everyone needs to be an English professor but one sure way to diminish your professionalism in the eyes of your staff, customers or prospects reading what you’ve written is poor business-writing basics. Communication is the single most critical element in engaging people. In an age of text-speak and consulting jargon, one sure way to stand out positively from the crowd and noise is clear, simple, and persuasive written communication skills.

I’ve had several books published, as well as being a regular columnist in industry media. I watch with amazement at professional proofers doing their job. Neither you nor I need to have that level of skill and precision, but we can all improve our results and lessen our regrets by following a few simple principles. I’m not calling them ‘rules’. The thing with English is that every time you have a rule, you soon find many exceptions. I before E anyone?

I met one trainee who ran a clothing boutique. They’d sent out a mailbox drop in their neighbourhood promoting their latest fashion arrivals. Their intention was to communicate that many of the shoes matched up nicely with many of the trousers on offer. They referred to this matching as, “These shoes are complimentary with these pants”. Unfortunately, what they meant was, “These shoes are complementary with these pants”. You see, one of those words means ‘matching’ but the other one means ‘free’.

  1. Write from the reader’s point of view

    Are you including information useful and relevant to the reader or just brain dumping to get it out of your head or make you look like an expert? They don’t have time to read everything and there is a lot of competition for their attention. How often are you using the words “you” and “your” compared to “me”, “my” and “I”?

  2. Ambiguity is the enemy

    I saw a billboard advertising ice cream that was, “97% fat-free and gluten-free”. Can a gluten-intolerant person eat that ice cream? It’s ambiguous. I saw a magazine cover, “Rachel Ray loves cooking her family and her dog”. How do her family and dog feel about this?

  3. If in doubt, leave it out

    If you’re not sure, how can you be sure they’re sure? If you can’t explain to me where and why you might use the word ‘whom’, then don’t use that word.

  4. Less is more

    Do I need to expand this? I hope not.

  5. Purposefulness

    What is the purpose of your document? Is it to sell, influence, or inform? Should that one email be three emails instead? Check all your ideas that you might include back against the over-riding purpose of the document. If it isn’t working for your purpose, it’s working against it. Leave it out or append it.

In jest, I often recommend having a13-year old around of slightly above average intelligence. They can test your writing for reader-centricity, clarity, efficiency and meaning. If you don’t have access to such a resource, have you ever run readability statistics over your documents? You can find this function in your word-processing apps usually in the same menu as spellchecker. Not everyone needs to write for a 13-year old, but the stats can give you a feel for the consistent level you should be writing for and when you’re off-track.

Not every document matters, but if it matters, it really matters. Use fresh eyes and have others check your writing and you reciprocate. If you have multiple people contributing to a single document such as a proposal, then make one person in charge of sorting consistency.

Better engagement via better communication leads to increased productivity and revenue. Let’s write right!

Creating a seminar with a difference

In today’s business environment, it is important to remember that many of our clients demand more support, information and help than ever before.  Even though they have access to considerably more information and data than previous generations, we are still seeing them struggling on how they use it more effectively and create better outcomes for their future.  As a business focused on a successful future, it is very beneficial for us to create events and meetings that enable our clients to attend either online or in person to get a better understanding of our product.  Regardless of industry or product type, it is crucial to create content and events that enable us to better skill our customer.  Helping them understand how our product works and the advantages of using it will assist in creating a stronger sales funnel with more loyal clients.

Target Markets

One of the main reasons for failure of small business is not understanding your customer. Identifying ‘target markets’ is therefore not just an exercise in segmenting customers by age or income, what is needed, is a deeper understanding of what drives your target customer’s decisions.

For example in Real Estate, the key question when trying to understand your customer is “why”.  When they explain they are interested in a 3-bedroom home in a certain area, you need to understand why. For an empty nester, a spare room may be needed for visiting family, while for first home buyers they may be looking for a room to rent out to generate income.

Understanding someone’s stated ‘position’ is easy, but to be effective you need to understand their ‘interests’ – the why. Moving from positions to interests is the first rule of negotiation, so whether it’s your vendor or a buyer, make sure you invest the time to find out what drives their decisions. This understanding of your customer not only avoids making dangerous assumptions, but can also lead to creative solutions, and delighted and loyal customers.

Contact David on 0800 800 303 to chat more.

David Ferguson
Negotiation Strategist

 

TARGET MARKETS

Who are your clients? What are they concerned about? Why do they buy from you?

Say hello to Mr Potato Head, he is 52 years old, married, lives in West Auckland and has a cat called Zeus.  Mr Head is a CEO of a medium-sized business, loves fishing at the weekend and only goes on social media to check up on his kids.

My question for you, does Mr Potato Head sound familiar? Is he one of your clients?

Can you describe your key clients in a few sentences?

You may have clients from different generations, from different walks of life. They are all at different stages of life too and your brand needs to have a clear message to each of them. Each of your target markets will understand influence in a different way, their core values, attributes and how they deal with money, are also individual for each generation.

Knowing who your customers are and how to help them connect with your business, is key and makes it easier to promote whatever you’re doing and bring them along on your brand’s journey. While we know you’d love to buy a coffee with ALL of them, another way to get to know who they are is to create Buyer Personas. The buyer persona concept will provide you with a handy template around the how, what and why to create your own individual fictional client. You can have as many as two or twenty depending on how many demographics you’re targeting in your business.

Contact Tom on 0800 800 303 to chat more about how to set up your buyer personas.

Tom Newton-Smith
Brand Strategist

 

Understanding your client

One of the key things for you to do this month is to really get an understanding of who your client really is.  Review sales for February, March and April and create a client profile or demographic that gives you a clear understanding of who your customer really is.  Consider location, age group and employment characteristics to build your profile.  By doing this, you will have a much clearer idea of who your client is and how to get more of them.  I am consistently seeing businesses that have not defined their target market of clients and understand how they can get more of them.  Spend the time to review your sales history and you may very well be surprised on how easy it is to get more of them.

Real Estate Communication “The Secrets” of becoming a better listener and speaker in real estate

The Four Levels of Conversation

Level One: Small Talk

Small talk is sometimes but not always, superficial conversation about the weather, the traffic, current events, school drop off and the like. Some people think it is purposeless, but it isn’t. This is your chance to size up another person and decide whether you have something in common. You don’t know the other person and you aren’t expected to reveal anything personal about yourself.  It is about getting a “feel” for them, creating a connection and is usually part of our first impressions.

Used during: Networking, social events, visitors to an open home, school drop off/pickup, que at the café or supermarket, a first time meeting.

Level Two: Fact Disclosure

Should the small talk phase go well, we are ready to move onto the second level of communication with our conversational partner. It maybe straight after small talk, or the next occasion. This time we will reveal a few facts about ourselves to the other, such as our occupation, our hobbies, sales experience. Now that you are revealing a bit more about yourself you may find more you have in common. There is give and take in this conversation as you ask and answer questions with your conversational partner.

Used during: Networking meetings and events, serious viewers at open homes, auctions, coffee catch ups, the start of an listing presentation.

Level Three: Getting Specific; Viewpoints & Opinions 

Conversation(s) at this level starts to get personal and relvealing. You may even venture into areas as politics or religion (but be cautious). The general rule is “low and slow,” don’t reveal too much too soon. You maybe asked your opinion on the market outlook or interest rates, it’s important to choose your words carefully when expressing opinion over fact.

Used during:  Monday phone calls; Listing Presentations, sales negotiations, open home feedbacks

Level Four: Personal Feelings

This usually doesn’t come until you feel very comfortable with your conversational partner. The surest way to get here is to not reveal too much too soon. It usually takes a lot of conversations with someone you feel very comfortable with before you progress to level four.

Used during:  social situations, post-sale, personal relationships.

Being aware of these levels of conversation can help you judge how your relationship with a vendor or purchaser is moving forward.  By following their lead you will make them more comfortable.  You can switch levels and give them the information they need more quickly and therefore create rapport. A sales consultant that is “easy to talk too” is more likely to make a sale.

The 7 key steps to create great business systems – Peter Adams

It’s vital to understand who your customers are and what you are doing that makes them want to spend more with you:

    1. Understand the outcomes.  Who are your dream customers, what do they want, and what can you do to make it easier for the really good stuff to happen?
    1. Document your best practises.  Now redesign them to accommodate the outcomes you have just defined.  
    1. Design a set of customer first principals.  Lock in the outcomes so everyone in the team understands what they need to deliver.
    1. Review and understand what’s working. Create a list of the good and the bad. 
    1. Eliminate in the name of efficiency. Getting rid of the bad stuff reduces the need to fight fires!
    1. Develop an implementation plan.  List a logical sequence and create a timeline for your redefined business system to be implemented.  
    1. Benchmark results & review performance.  Set regular review dates for incremental improvements.  

I look forward to hearing of your implementation success – peter@inkca.co.nz

Connecting Better

Ok, so it’s early in the morning, some of us have to work and we have got to hit the road fast to beat this crazy Auckland traffic. My thought after going to the Global Speakers Summit is “how do we connect better with either your workmates, clients or even with the community?” Steve Sammartino talks about box life.  We live, drive and work in boxes. We heat and eat from a box and finally die in a box. Unsettling and a great wake up call to how we do life. I even write this post with a box shaped tech, resting on a box sitting in my box office talking to myself after buying a box drink from a person in a box…lol.

Does work have to be box like this all the time? Is your brand in a box, which will one day die confined? So how do we change this? Do we need to change how branding is perceived and done in the future? I have always been told that customers are right from an early age and I truly believe this more and more in these times. For myself, it is about how customers experience your work, your brand, how personal you are, the touchpoint you give and the energy between those connections.

Your brand touchpoints need to be thought about from a head, heart and hands perspective.  How do your clients view your credibility, difference and relevance.  When was the last time you considered the five senses in your meetings, show some emotions and what buzz have you created through the media? Unlike the box metaphors, when was the last time you got out to participate in the local community or build local relationships?

To conclude, think about your client community, engage with them if only to encourage them, find a touchpoint to show you care. If you want to go deeper, explore further, contact us and we can help to deliver a brand strategy that expands the norm, challenges the past and provides hope for the future.