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customer service


If you don’t read Orange County Register columnist Steven Greenhut on a regular basis, you should.  His column from February 25th is a jewel. It’s entitled, Customers Rule. In this opinion piece, Steven’s main point is this: Why in the hell does the American public and media get themselves all worked up into a lather and put all of their focus on the occasional bad practices of the private sector but rarely focuses this same level of outrage on Bad Government. Here’s a great quote from Steven’s piece: “No matter how demonstrably bad the government may be, legislators, and even many regular folks, focus much outrage at the private sector – the only portion of society that works relatively efficiently and humanely.”

I wonder this, too, Steven. It’s a great question.

Yes, there are bad people in the business world and there are bad businesses, too.  Yes, there is no excuse for fraud and abuse and for the bad people who took Enron down. But where’s this same outrage over BAD government? Sure, JetBlue screwed up badly during the recent snow storms and left a bunch of people on airplanes for WAY too many hours. These people were abused for sure.  But JetBlue came right back and offered to make it right with customers and create a customer Bill of Rights. Now consider the abuse we take from the government, day in and day out? Steven asks a great question on this subject,  “When was the last time the government offered to reimburse you for being stuck on one of its highways or in one of its offices?” Can you say “NEVER!”

At least the majority of businesses listen to the customer. We can’t say that about government. But it’s about time the American public started demanding that government start listening to it.

As it stands now, the American public is sliding down the razor blade of life as long as we do not demand better service from our government officials.  There is nothing worse than energizing incompetents and this is what the American public is doing by not complaining more about our incompetent government.  Start complaining and holding government officials to the same standards we profess to hold business executives to.

As Steven states, “Government always seeks to stop, regulate, control, tax and put the kibosh on new ideas and entrepreneurship.” I couldn’t agree more. In business, one has to think to be successful. Not too many government officials know how to think. In our capitalist economy, if you know how to think, the rewards are sensational for those who can make things happen.

It ain’t brain surgery.

Richard

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In my humble opinion, the term sales manager is extremely misleading yet most companies continue to use this description for one of their most important positions. Let’s think for a moment how sales are actually made. Do we as sales people create the sale through our dynamic personalities and outgoing demeanor? Hardly; we make the sale through our continued activity with the client. I will go out on a limb and boldly say we never manager sales, rather we manage activity. Should you disagree with this please read on.

Nothing happens until a sale is made! The truth in this age old comment sometimes amazes those new to the field of sales. In a prior life I would always begin a sales meeting with this statement and always begin my interviews with potential employees with the same comment.

So, if we have to manage activity and nothing happens until a sale is made, how do we accomplish both tasks in order to be successful at the science of sales? The answer is rather simple. As the “Sales Manager” one must put into place some very simple but effective methods of managing activity. Some very successful and seasoned professionals will disagree with my suggestions and that is OK. If you are satisfied with the performance of your sales team and are making as much money as you want to make then stop reading now. Otherwise read on for some proven tactics.

The plan is very simple as one activity leads to another and eventually to a sale. Regardless of the amount of money being spent on the sale, the steps to making the sale are always the same and must be orchestrated if you are to be successful. We will discuss sales training another day so let’s concentrate on the activity required and how to track it properly.

As elementary as it may seem, you must require each salesperson to make a predetermined number of sales calls per day or week but this number must be specific and rigid.

Second you should set a goal each week for number of demonstrations or proposals or both. Naturally the product will determine if you need demonstrations or presentations prior to the actual proposal. A good rule of thumb is to expect 5 personal contacts before a presentation can be expected and possibly more for the proposal. This varies from industry to industry.

Third, you should determine a closing ratio for each member of the sales team. Naturally you can use one of your successful salespeople as a benchmark but each salesperson has to have their own closing ratio. This an excellent method for forecasting sales and for modifying commission plans.

Fourth, each sales person has to keep a list of their top prospects and the sales dollars forecasted for the account.

Fifth, where is the account in the process? i.e. are they ready to make a decision or are they still kicking tires?

And sixth, every salesperson should keep a record, either electronically or written regarding personal information of every person involved in the process from maintenance person to executive Vice President.

There are always more steps that may be added or perhaps you might reduce some step but the key is to keep sales people from wasting time on non-productive accounts or individuals.

We all spend money on countless items each day and in my case I like to purchase costly items from someone I know. The individual who has sold me over 100K in automobiles during the last two years realizes the value of everything listed above especially step six. He knows a lot about my and my wife because he took time to ask the questions and was rewarded with us purchasing another vehicle from him recently.

Remember none of this is brain surgery and just takes a little effort to accomplish.

Have a great day!

Terry


BoogieTerry’s last post got us on a Customer (NO) Service line of thinking, so I might as well stay on course.

The photo is of my best friend, Boogie. He’s a 12-year old black (with a lot of gray, like me) lab and the best damn dog in the world.  For years, from the time I got him, I worked from home and me and Boogie hung out together. He was my VP of Customer Relations. He thinks he is human, and sometimes I think he is.

Anyway, Boogie has slowed down a lot the last year or so. Had to quit walking 2 miles a day with me and the wife about a year and half ago. He was still making it a couple of blocks twice a day – morning and evening. He loves to walk. He had his annual checkup in October. We discussed his slowing down and how he seemed to be in a little pain. The Vet recommended Rimadyl. Rimadyl is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug to help reduce pain. We tried it on Boogie and the difference in him was unbelievable. He is a new dog. The stuff worked on him. He’s back to walking about 1/4 mile in the morning and evening and he has his smile back. He is better!

Now his current Vet is his Vet by default. Boogie’s previous Vet was outstanding. Her name was Dr. Karen. He had her for many, many years. Due to highway construction, she lost her building. She opted to join a Vet practice outside Atlanta, where we live. We continued to go to her for a couple of years until last year, Dr. Karen opened another practice about 60 miles out of town – too far to drive for us. So we stayed with the practice she had joined. Now this Vet is OK but nothing like Dr. Karen. Boogie LOVED her – got excited when you said, “Let’s go see Dr. Karen.” He knew her name and he wanted to see her. How do they know? They just do.

Back to the Rimadyl. The new Vet OKs Boogie to stay on Rimadyl after some blood tests. We get the first prescription. The price floored us. About $2 a pill. Now, I don’t mind the $2 a pill if it makes Boogie feel better. But we checked with 1-800-PetMeds and found they had the same pills for about $1.10 a pill. So we tell the Vet. We would rather support your practice and buy the presription from you but your price on Rimadyl is a little high. The Vet won’t come off the price. So we ask for the prescription so we can send it to 1-800-PetMeds. The Vet did not like this request.  But a buck is a buck, right?

We make an order on 1-800-PetMeds. They call the Vet to verify the prescription. The Vet tells PetMeds they don’t deal with PetMeds and hang up the phone. PetMeds contacts us and says we must fax them the hard copy prescription. We get the prescription from the Vet and fax it in. PetMeds calls the Vet again yesterday and they refuse to verify the prescription – stupidology. Now, we have to mail the hard copy prescription in so we can get the Rimadyl from 1-800-PetMeds. How stupid is this?

The Vet, Dr. Greedy, just lost a steady, paying customer. If she had offered the pills at a reasonable markup, I would have paid for the convenience and to support her practice. But double the price? No way. And the way they refused to assist PetMeds in filling our subscription – which they had given to us – is absolutely wrong.

I am a business person and totally understand how to run a profitable business. I understand markup. I understand a reasonable profit. I don’t understand ripping people off and not being helpful to long-term customers, or any customer, for that matter.

Dr. Greedy doesn’t get it – life ain’t brain surgery. Being nice to people and being cooperative will get you further than being mean and greedy. Good-bye, Dr. Greedy. Rot in hell!

Richard