February 2, 2010

Five Ways to Win More Sales through Service

By mary lou dobbs

Combining sales and service is the best way to create a winning sales climate. Providing service also creates additional sales opportunities. If you aren’t taking care of follow-ups, you miss the time when clients are most receptive to buying — immediately after the sale.

Studies reveal that up to 68 percent of all customers who leave a business or salesperson do so because of dissatisfaction with service. While the other 32 percent may die, move away or be sold by a competitor, 68 percent of the time you can eliminate the competition by providing quality service.

The White House Office of Consumer Affairs research tells us that up to 70 percent of complainants will remain loyal if their complaints are resolved, and up to 95 percent will remain loyal if the complaints are resolved quickly.

Here are five ways to combine the sales and service process:

1. Build internal and external relations with yourself, your customer and your company.

Use referrals and join organizations to find out where people’s interests lie. Gravitate toward your natural market — those businesses and individuals with whom you share common interests. When I sold insurance, I was attracted to small businesses, especially Mom and Pop organizations. This led me to specialize in the needs of closely held corporations. Once you’ve identified your niche, you can improve your success ratio by asking yourself pertinent and revealing questions which should lead you to a better understanding and control of your market.

2. Question for clarification and understanding.

Gather information and evaluate needs while building rapport. Twenty-five percent of your clients will think and respond like you. Knowing and being adaptable to the other 75 percent will give you a wider range of prospects.

3. Listen for facts and feelings.

To be an active listener you must concentrate all your energy on the customer. It’s a learned skill. Forget yourself and focus solely on the client, creating a non-verbal message that you care enough to listen completely. This will help you bring your product to life for the prospect. Don’t sell an annuity, sell what an annuity can do for them.

4. Identify needs and create a “Win-Win” strategy.

Ask open-ended questions to determine the difference between what the prospect says and means. Identify the customer’s hot button, the emotional reason why he will buy. A customer may say he needs life insurance, but what he often means is he wants to feel good about taking care of his family. If you don’t discover the hot button, you may make the sale anyway, but you will never know why, when the customer leaves for a competitor.

5. Select appropriate solutions to conflict.

Nine out of ten customers will continue dealing with you if you handle the complaint properly. Treat customer complaints like a gold mine. Mine this gold by listening and letting the customer vent anger or frustration. Then you can say, “I understand how you feel. Others have felt this way. I have found the way to solve the problem is…”

It costs up to six times more in time and effort to sell a new client than to keep the ones you already have. By delivering service as well as sales, you can make yourself attractive to new prospects and a joy to do business with for your return customers.