Use your good name to cultivate future sales advocates

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

 When most people think of a mattress, they see a rectangular piece of cloth, metal and padding – something to sleep on at night.

When Tracy McFarlin, of Mattress Land – Sleep Fit Center, in Nampa, talks about mattresses, he talks about customer satisfaction and brand conversion.

“There are a lot of different considerations that go into the selection process,” he says. “Each person has to find their right comfort zone before they can get to sleep.”

The same comfort zone applies to a satisfied customer. The entire sale is built on relationships … buyers trust sales people. It takes only minutes to create a satisfied customer or a dissatisfied customer. When you give the customer with enough information, they’re more likely to be an informed buyer, and an informed satisfied customer. If a customer leaves dissatisfied, he’ll tell more people than if he’s satisfied.

“I’m going to be calling you in 60 days to see how well you like your mattress,” McFarlin says. “It’s not that I want to sell you anything, but I want to see that you’re satisfied with what you’ve bought.”

Making a satisfied customer builds an advocate for your business, according to Jill Rowley, with Forbes. “So when a sales person initiates a relationship with a potential buyer, they need to replace the term ‘prospect’ with the term ‘future advocate.’”

Converting customers to advocates increases the size of your sales team through “proxy.” Those customers will give their positive experiences – both products and sales clerk – to others in a trusted voice. They will vouch for you as a trustworthy brand.

Encourage customers to share their experiences both word-of-mouth, on your website, and their social networks.

“Share the unedited voices and personalities of your employees,” Rowley writes. “Asking your partners to get involved in the conversation as well can be mutually beneficial.”

This conversion process requires the customer to become loyal to your brand.

Better Business Bureau hears all concerns all the time about money and marketing. Everyone wants to grow their business, but not many business owners have unlimited resources to use for marketing.  Learn this new catch phrase – Get, Keep, Grow – and apply the concepts outlined by Elaine Ralls, of Air Integrated.

  • Get is acquisition.  The goal is to acquire the best new customers, not any customers, but those that will be high value and show loyalty
  • Keep is about loyalty.  How often do your existing customers come back, why, and what brings them back?
  • Grow is cross-sell up-sell.  What do you offer or could offer that core customers are not taking advantage of but need, and how do you tell them about it?

Implementing a strategy in each of the above three areas is a great start. In addition, become the expert, go-to source for your industry. Learn and study the profile of your customers, and create a social presence with meaningful communication.

A recent Gallup study – published article by Ed O’Boyle, John Fleming, and Bryant Ott – asked sales teams to predict how customers would rate them using a customer engagement metric. Their customers were also surveyed. The sales team was shocked by the results. The correlation between the account teams’ ratings and those of their real customers was essentially zero. Account team members were almost entirely wrong about how their customers viewed them.

And, as McFarlin outlined, find your customers needs, meet them and make them a brand believer in a matter of minutes.

– This column first appeared in the Idaho Statesman’s Business Insider
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1 Comment

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One response to “Use your good name to cultivate future sales advocates

  1. Mark Burrows

    As most of my life was spent in the field of Psychology, I had to pay to get there, yes, I had a couple of scholarships, but if anyone believes they pay for everything is dreaming. It just means you get a couple more hours of sleep because you don’t have to work three outside jobs for paying for everything else. Working was a necessity to survive university unless you had wealthy parents who give, give, give to their socialites in the making.
    I wasn’t that person or material, I didn’t join any frats or special interest groups. I had only two objectives, getting my degrees and paying for them.
    So I worked. Sales was the most comfortable job to suit my integrity. I worked in a variety of places from Men’s clothing, shoes, to consumer electronics. I adapted to the products that were of the highest standard in quality and backed by service, and aimed those at my chosen clientele. This often would cause some annoyance with the other sales staff, because they used the same pitch for everything in the store. They felt that selling more of the lower priced products with the higher mark up was the best way to earn top dollar commissions. As it turned out, I brought in the highest sales, with the best customer satisfaction rate, where they would return for other products to enhance their style or environment, whereas the other sales staff would get unsatisfied customers coming back looking for exchanges or refunds. Either way, a loss to the store. An unhappy customer is not likely to be a repeat customer.
    I did not do my sales to be popular with the staff, I did it because I wanted to provide confidence and a trust with the public. Deception was not logical. Often when I left these jobs, owners and managers were sad to see me go, but I usually got a larger round of applause from the rest of the staff with their murderous grins on their faces. Yet, I know that my techniques did rub off on a number of them, and their careers in retail grew. So, small established businesses that have been around for years that can not possibly compete in price with the big box stores and chains have done so because they have earned the respect and loyalty of local consumers, and provide attention and service with a family like familiarity that makes it worth every penny of the few dollars you would have saved by driving out to the box store who have sales staff already scanning the crowd for their next pinch before you have asked any questions, or worse yet, you can’t find ANY one around to answer anything. So you buy blindly.
    You take it home, discover it really is not what you imagined it was and take it back only to find they ding you with a restocking, repackaging, and/or a reshelving fee. Ah, if only there was someone to assure you that the product had the features you were so keen on. Well, now you are upset, they refund you, less the nasty fee, and you storm out and send a nasty letter or email to the head office of the box store where they will just send you some generic letter with an ink jetted signature that doesn’t give you any closure what so ever. You get added to the companies data base as a troublemaker, and they will monitor your purchases there for a while. Then erase you.
    There is a method to their madness and that is why they make huge profits, and sadly disgruntled customers will still go back to save money. While you are saving money, you are also destroying the very fiber of American society. You are allowing the capitalistic giants rip the money from your hands with no sense of feeling, complete apathy, and profit highly in the off white market.
    Off white market? What the heck is that? You ask. It is as the same as generic medications, which are the same recipe as the original brand name, but made in a different format or just simply given a different stamp. A generic one. The thing is, brand name medications are spot checked like one in every ten. Sorry, don’t know the exact numbers at the top of my head, but they pull them off the line before packaging and run them through a battery of tests to make sure they are up to snuff.
    The generics, they spot check maybe one in five thousand. It all comes down to how much staff is utilized to get the product to the end user that justifies their actions for brand vs generic. Yet it’s all mote since they are likely making 3000% mark up.
    Anyway, with say electronics, off white market is when manufactures create certain models for different economies. They are the same equipment but they can change them easily and quickly to suit any country. So if a model was not selling well in say, the Philippines, they would discontinue that model there, make the minor adjustments for the North American Market and sell it actually at a higher price than they were selling to the Philippine market, but much lower than the same model in the North American market. Of course, part of that is necessary because of new packaging, a change of accessories, and an English booklet in addition to the multilanguage foldout for distraction has to be done prior to shipping. They also have to a serial number identification code to indicate to service departments that this was originally tended for a different market.
    Not to worry, you are getting genuine product, just not so much pretested, so a greater chance of it being faulty. But hey, you saved money by shopping at the big chain or box store. Because they are the only people who can get contracts to purchase large quantities of these off white market products. Your local businessman can’t, because he is an authorized genuine dealer and service provider through direct headquarters of the countries company.
    Remember, anyone can import anything, and legally if they have the money and make application to the manufacture. This will upset manufacture official representatives in each country, but the beauty of it is those who sell off white products must also service them. Because they will not be accepted by authorized service depots, who use original manufacture parts. So, your repair through box company will save money by using…….guess what. Generic parts.
    Thus ends my tutorial on the ethics of business.

    Mark Burrows

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