Several weeks ago, my electronics vendor sent a technician to my home to address on a customer service call. The objective: address some malfunctioning wireless interfaces. I know the President of the company personally. It’s a small business. They do great work, highly customized. When these folks show up, it’s not a quick visit. They are thorough, ask a lot of questions, determine the source of the problem. They make suggestions for alternatives as well.
During the service call, I spent a lot of time asking the service person about various alternatives to the current system. I was – and still am- interested in alternatives to my current configuration, which would provide a lot more functionality and convenience.
He left. My system was repaired. And I waited. And waited and waited. For a proposal based on the upgraded services I had discussed with the repair man.
Nothing. Not even two weeks later.
Because the customer service repair person was at my home on a customer service call. He didn’t recognize the signs of a selling opportunity, although from our conversation it was very clear that “I am Buying” today.
He didn’t understand the Sense of Urgency involved when having a Buying Conversation with a customer. He could have closed on a sale that day. Except he was never taught how to sell.
How many of you, as small business folks, program your own customer service people to be alert for buying signals?
I’m not talking about a phone call to a home or business owner where a telemarketer is hawking whatever it is that you are selling. I’m not talking about telling repair people to ask “Anything else we can do for you today?” when they are on a service call.
I’m talking about growing a set of antenna so that your customer service / repair folks understand how frequently they find themselves at the crossroads of business development opportunities while on a repair call.
Think upsell, upgrade.
Think a conversation like: “You know, there’s an easier way to integrate everything you want. And it’s a lot more convenient for you as well. Do you want me to show you?”
As a customer, I may not know electronics-speak. All I can tell you is that I’m frustrated with the lack of functionality and convenience in having to perform each operation separately. I count on your service folks to translate that into: “Hmmm, I think we can do a better job for you. Let me have the service person bring out some other options so you can evaluate alternatives to the system you currently have installed.”
Is your repair person prepared to: a) recognize this type of conversation as involving more than just repair; and b) move into a selling conversation?
I didn’t think so, either.
There’s more selling involved in a customer service call than meets the eyes… and ears, apparently. There’s a tendency to put repair/customer service calls and selling into two separate buckets.
That’s old school.
Now truth be told, I will call up this company this week. I will speak with the President. I will send him the link to this blog post. Because I’m interested in building his business. And it’s in his best interest to understand that his repair person missed this opportunity.
Even if only to tell me: “I’ll give my notes to the Boss and he will follow up with you. We appreciate your business.”
An opportunity that apparently wasn’t missed by the local digital cable company, who’s been inundating me with phone calls about system upgrades. Simply because they, too, were at my home recently, for a different type of service call. And that one service call apparently put me in the call queue for cross-selling their services.
Yes, I like doing business with my vendors, many of them small businesses, with limited resources and personnel. They do great work. I cut them some slack because of these shortcomings. Because when it comes to service quality, they do make the grade many times over the big boys and girls who have hired telemarketers.
How many times are these small businesses leaving sales dollars on the table simply because they are not following up on discussions that could only be categorized as Buying Conversations?
Does this sound like something you need to address at your own shop?
Babette Ten Haken provides technical people and other sellers a solid strategy for how to explain a product, its benefits, and its value in ways that buyers can easily understand and sellers can comfortably present. Her company, Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, works with entrepreneurs, start-ups & investors, as well as small businesses and manufacturers, focusing on revenue-generating and portfolio-building business development strategies.