Boost your bottom line with these tried and tested tips and techniques
Businesses across the globe are struggling to figure out how they can survive in a postpandemic world. Deloitte recently found that nine out of 10 businesses believe they face a high or very high level of uncertainty and only 16 per cent of executives are more optimistic about the prospects for their company than they were three months ago.
However, businesses can only work with what they can control. The same principle applies to franchises. Battening down the hatches in hope we can limp through isn’t a viable strategy. We need to be proactive.
The first place to start
When it comes to business sustainability and sales growth, the first place to start is the foundation of your business - customers - and more specifically, delivering first class customer service.
During uncertain times, the most important activity is ensuring customer retention. There are a number of reasons for this. Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one. Plus, increasing customer retention has a direct correlation with increased profits. It’s also much easier to sell to an existing customer than a new one.
Recurring revenues come from long-term relationships with your customers. Relationships built from a good foundation with open communication, mutual respect and good intentions will weather almost any storm. 80 per cent of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. 67 per cent of customers say they’ll pay more for a great experience.
Clear company messaging
So where to start? We are all representatives of the business we work in. When we talk about our job and our company, it gives an impression to the people who are listening. If we’re negative, this gets passed on.
Our opinion and behaviour become even more influential if we have a role that involves contact with customers. Having clear company messaging that’s shared with staff and policies for what can and cannot be shared about the business is a good starting point to get staff to take this seriously.
Mapping the customer journey
The next step is ensuring a consistent, positive customer experience - every customer touchpoint matters.
Franchises of all sizes need to map every type of customer journey - proactive and reactive - and the departments and staff that have a role to play in maximising the opportunity. How can the experience be optimised? How can you capture customer feedback, so you can measure and track improvements?
Nowhere is this customer engagement opportunity more pronounced than in the customer service department.
The customer service team is the biggest untapped resource for sales - even if the team is extremely small. They have the most time with customers and the most trust. So how best can you harness the opportunity of this hidden sales force?
They need to be re-educated on the role of sales and feel part of a pro-sales organisation. There are a number of tactics and best practices that can be implemented to make this transition as easy as possible.
Training must start with their role and how it ties into the wider sales function. For customer service staff, the key is tying it to what drives them. Whereas salespeople are motivated by closing, customer service staff are motivated by helping. By showing customer service employees that they can help customers through making smarter buying decisions, it helps guide them into this new pro-sales role.
Customer service staff may have a stereotypical view of what selling constitutes, but this can easily be overcome. Customers don’t buy products to do a business a favour - they do so because it adds value to their lives. If the customer service team believes in the company they work for and the products or services that customers buy, it makes this transition to selling even easier.
The next step is to train customer service staff on selling strategies. With their ‘helping’ lens, it makes sense to apply the tried and tested ‘identify the pain’ and ‘listening’ approach.
Bad salespeople push their product and talk about themselves, while good salespeople identify what the prospect’s problems are, listen to them and then hone a solution that adds value.
Customer service staff already have a natural skill for sales, so armed with a systematic process they can use their existing skills to identify a huge number of new business opportunities.
When a customer service person asks a customer about their problems, thoughts and challenges, they tap into their desires. Businesses must ensure the customer service team are empowered to craft compelling questions, actively listening to customers, identifying buying signals and given the tools to turn buying signals into revenue.
Pro-customer service ethos
With a pro-sales culture, an understanding that all staff are accountable for sales and sales training for customer service staff, there is no question that a business will feel the benefits to its bottom line.
Embracing a pro-customer service ethos is good for staff, business and customers. If you’re dealing with a business that has taken the time to examine all parts of the customer journey and enhanced it accordingly, you will have a better experience, of that there is no doubt. By adopting this approach, businesses can ensure they achieve sales structured growth - no matter what the economic climate.
Shaun Thomson is CEO of Sandler Training (UK).