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Sales Tips: Honest Customer Feedback is the Cure for Insanity

Guest post from Primary Intelligence, CCS® Partner

It’s been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

This is obviously a cultural rather than a medical definition, but if you sell for a living, and you cannot figure out what you’re doing that’s causing you to lose deals you were sure you were going to win, you might start to feel like you’re losing your mind.

When you get some honest feedback, and start doing different things, the outcomes change, and the insanity goes away. Suddenly the world makes a lot more sense, and you’re closing a lot more deals.

Customer Feedback

Tell the Truth

If you want to one day benefit from honest feedback, you should start building truth-telling relationships. That means telling prospects “no” when “no” is the correct answer. “No, our solution won’t do that yet.” “No, I cannot offer you a larger discount.” “No, we cannot implement the solution any faster than that.”

You can steer them to positive features of the solution or favorable aspects of the contract terms, but being honest is key to becoming a trusted advisor, a key position in B2B sales.

Creating a relationship of mutual honesty takes courage because when you’re selling, you want to present desirable solutions. But in order to influence the final decision, it’s best to be seen as an expert rather than a “pleaser.”

Hear the Truth

When someone – a friend, a co-worker, a supervisor, a client, or a prospect – is honest with you, it is proof that you are respected and admired. People are honest when they know that you are strong, capable and smart enough to hear the truth. They don’t have to pretend everything is fine when it’s not. They don’t have to pretend you did a great job when you didn’t. Because, to amend the famous line from A Few Good Men, “you can handle the truth.”

You need to hear the truth so you can improve – your preparation, your pitch, your presentation, your product – and win more deals in the future. Colin Powell said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” Sales can be a hard career unless you view failures as opportunities to learn and are willing to listen. Other people hold the lesson to your failures and your successes.

And yes, you can also learn from your successes. What did you do right? How can you make sure you repeat those good practices that helped you close the deal? The truth isn’t always bad. Sometimes, it’s commendation and acknowledgement of the preparation and hard work you put in to be successful.

Elicit the Truth

First, you start down the honesty path, as stated above. If you are not honest with your prospects, you will be lucky to get any feedback at all, and if you do, it will likely be painful to hear. Successful professionals want to work with people they trust, and avoid people they don’t trust.

Second, ask for the feedback as a favor – a positive form of assistance rather than some kind of bitter medicineyou have to take. Explain that constructive criticism will help you be more successful. Otherwise, people’s desire to be polite and not hurt feelings can filter out the hard truths you need.

Third, ask for tips on ways to improve rather than just their opinions. The people you are selling to have seen lots of sales presentations, some that work, many that don’t. Allowing the feedback to come as a helpful tip removes any uneasy feelings that might come from criticism alone.

Get the Right Truth

The only honest customer feedback that really matters is the truth told by the decision-maker. Do your best to get that feedback directly from the source. It doesn’t make sense to change what you do based on feedback from people who didn’t make the decision. While their feedback may be generally helpful, the adjustments you make might not be aligned with the result you want – winning more deals.

Conclusion

The world of B2B sales begins to make a lot more sense when you know why buyers say “yes” and why they say “no.” But until you have those answers, you are going through the same motions and pitches every day and getting the same results. It is insanity: it’s hard work, it’s disappointing, and it’s leaving deals behind that you might have won. Learning from honest feedback makes the world of B2B sales a much saner – and more successful – place.

Sales Tips: 4 Ways to Convert One-time Buyers into Lifetime Customers

By ShaDrena Simon, Inbound Marketing Expert for Yokel Local

While bringing in new customers is an important part of business, the latest numbers suggest that retainingcustomers is even more valuable to today’s companies. The benefits of going the extra mile for your first-time clients make it well worth the effort.

Today’s businesses are focusing on customer retention more than acquisition because it costs five times less to keep current clients than it does to acquire new ones, meaning greater return on your investment.

Lifetime Customers

Your repeat business could be worth ten times more than your first-time clients, so a plan to create loyalty is crucial to your company’s success.

The first time a new B2B customer uses your service, will they leave feeling like while they had a good experience, they could have the same experience with one of your competitors? If so, there is room for improvement. Mediocre service is for mediocre businesses. Show your customers you are a cut above the rest by exceeding their expectations at every turn.

To delight first-time customers and keep them coming back for more, put the following four tips into practice right away.

1. Provide an Exceptional Customer Experience

Providing a top-notch customer experience is essential to retention. Business has become increasingly competitive and being average is no longer enough. When you consider that increasing your retention rates by a mere 5% can increase your overall profits by up to 95%, the importance of standing apart from your competitors becomes clear.

Recognize and acknowledge that the client is new, and make sure your team is on the same page and ready to promote a positive and helpful experience. You only get one shot to nurture and grow the first-time customer relationship, so make it count.

2. Be the Solution to Their Problem

Solving your customers’ problems the first time will create a lasting impression. Instill confidence in your first-time clients and they will trust you to make things easier for them again in the future. Show new customers that you are knowledgeable about how their needs and your industry intersect. Ask questions about your first-time customer’s situation that shows them you are knowledgeable about how your products and services can make things easier for them. They will appreciate your insight into your base and come back to you because they know you can be counted on for delivering results.

Thank Your Customers

3. Give More than What’s Expected

Want to dazzle first-time clients? It’s time to get familiar with the concept of under-promising and over-delivering. Anytime a company does business with you for the first time, consider that they are taking a risk and most likely wondering if it will pay off.

Set reasonable expectations that are clearly laid-out, and then double down on delivering. Promise two-hour turnaround if you know you can do the job in one. Include personal touches like thank you cards and discount codes. This shows your first-time client that returning to you down the line is a risk-free proposition and a gamble worth taking.

Embrace the Art of Following Up

Where your first-time clients are concerned, follow-up matters. Strike a delicate balance between showing that your company is worth doing business with again and not coming off as pushy. After an initial sale,delight a new customer with a carefully crafted e-mail. You can increase your click-through and engagement rates by placing your clients into categories based upon their first purchase.

Targeting them with relevant content that specifically meets their needs at this stage of your relationship means better follow-through than you could hope to achieve with a generic welcome e-mail.

If you are the owner of a B2B business and you are making increasing customer retention among your first-time clients a top priority, you are not alone. An increasing number of businesses have implemented loyalty programs because research has consistently shown they work. While there is just a 32% chance first-time customers will purchase from your company again in the future, by the tenth purchase there is an 83% chance they will buy from you again. A customer’s first visit is an opportunity to grow your business, and smart owners will have a plan for success.

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