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Posts Tagged ‘Win-win Sales’

Soft and easy does it!

January 1, 2014 4 comments

What better way to start a New Year than by extolling a friend who creates value for his clients and prospects.Sell

PG and I often make joint-visits to clients. While I promote my talent development initiatives he would sell Internet Security and High Speed Bandwidth solutions.

But Sell may seem too strong a word to use for his approach to business – we often associate selling with pushiness and high-decibel pitches.

During a recent visit to a reputed Engineering College our First Point of Contact informed us that there is an immediate need for Internet Security Solutions and that the Systems Administrator was already in conversation with several suppliers. While a regular Sales Executive would have rushed to the man and started a major pitch to win the deal my friend did the opposite. When we reached the System Administrator’s office PG started asking about the IT infrastructure the college had in place and what thy had in place for managing security and for intrusion control. He permitted the man to speak at length about the IT policy, the equipment being used and the people who were currently supplying products; eventually it was revealed that they were indeed looking for Security Solutions.

But, like PG had already surmised the solution being considered by the college was of a lower specification and it wouldn’t make sense for him to push anything from his portfolio. Instead he spoke about ways in which he can help them build on what they have so that the IT infrastructure is more robust and safe. He offered his expertise for free and, I am sure, that made a huge impact on the Systems Administrator. He would definitely call PG for advice and support when they plan the next upgrade of the IT infrastructure.

While at the outset it may have seemed unprofessional to let an opportunity go by it became evident later on that he was laying the foundation for bigger opportunities in the future.

And this was later confirmed by two other friends who done business with PG – they were buying broadband connectivity from him and the approach I mentioned above was seen in action by both. It would have made sense for him to give more bandwidth that was required when these gentlemen asked. They also asked for equipment that would be of a higher specification than their current requirement. PG persuaded both gentlemen to go for a lower spec item because it would do the job just fine and that if they required more bandwidth it could be acquired cheaper on a future date because given current trends the cost of bandwidth would drop further.

Both gentlemen were impressed with my friend’s soft selling style which gave them long-term value. He could have gone for the kill but staunchly refused to do so and thereby built stronger relationships with his clients. They wouldn’t think twice about recommending him to all their friends and business associates.

By selling less, he was selling right; PG was actually opening doors to bigger business opportunities – its smart selling.

Let it not be thought that PG doesn’t Sell, he sure does that but with a softer, more long-term approach. His customers may take time to buy, but when they eventually do so they would keep buying from him for longer periods of time.

Now that is real selling!

Isn’t that a great way to begin the New Year? May you succeed in all your endeavors this year … Wishing all of you the very best in 2014!

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Please visit my new look website – http://akshworld.com/

Does your network work?

June 10, 2013 10 comments

At a recent networking meeting I joined a conversation between two well-known businessmen – both run profit-making enterprises. One was telling the other about the importance of networking and how it had helped him – the discussion was sparked when a new member, present in that huddle, wondered aloud whether such meetings offered any benefit beyond the opportunity to hobnob, over a drink, with others in their peer group.

So, this businessman, who was formerly a Civil Servant, spoke about a time when his business was just taking root. Revenue was still not steady and orders were hard to come by. They were spending a lot but getting paltry returns – production close to capacity, salaries and bills to pay but business far from rosy.

To add to his misery China manufacturers were dumping cheaper products in the Indian market. Our narrator friend said that the writing was on the wall for his company. If something wasn’t done immediately they would’ve been forced to wind-up.

He decided to make a trip to Delhi to impress upon the Industry Ministry the need to impose a duty on imports in order to save domestic production. But he did not know where to begin because there he knew nobody in that ministry. However, there was a batch-mate of his working as Secretary in another department.

Without making any promises this friend took our businessman along to work, at the Central Secretariat. The idea was to discuss how and where they should start the process.

A few minutes after they settled done in the Civil Service friend’s office a colleague walked in to discuss some routine business matter. Our friend was introduced to the visitor and the reason for his visit was stated. Immediately this gentleman said he knew the Industry Secretary and offered to arrange the introduction. Our friend was in a state of shock, but was grateful too for this incredible stroke of luck that came his way. He had got more than he bargained for just by tagging along with his friend.

The Industry Secretary listened patiently to our businessman and saw merit in the request for anti-dumping duty. But he needed solid proof to put up the case to the Industries Minister. He told the businessman to bring evidence to substantiate his claim.

Our friend ran back to his contact’s office and stated what had happened. Now it was this person’s turn to help. He used the Government network of embassies and gathered the relevant information over the weekend. The meeting with the Industry Secretary had taken place on a Friday and by the following Monday the businessman had a solid Case Study (supported by hard facts) to present to the Secretary for building a case to impose import duty.

The Industry Secretary received the document  with utter astonishment – he was shocked to see such a robust case built up over the weekend. But he soon realized how the information was gathered and gave a big smile. He told our friend to leave the information with him and asked for time to work on it. He gave no assurance, nor did he even offer any word of encouragement or support.

But within two weeks of his returning from Delhi there was a letter delivered at his office with a Government of India seal on it. It was the typical low quality government stationery, he said. But inside was information that turned the fortune of his business. The letter contained a Government Order to impose duty on import of products in his category. He and his business were saved.

Our narrator friend said that it was a chance meeting in his friend’s office in Delhi and his friend’s ability to use Government machinery to gather information at short notice that saved the day for him.

He summed up by saying that such networking meetings are crucial for the success of our business. What do you think? Do you see benefit in networking?

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The author, Jayadev Menon, has his own Business Consulting & Training practice, AKSH People Transformation.  To know more about his Consulting, Training and Coaching solutions visit http://www.akshworld.com or write to jayadev.menon@akshworld.com

Johnny is a good man!

April 30, 2013 12 comments

It’s Saturday night and we were meeting with friends at Kovalam’s famous Hawa Beach (3rd Beach). The plan was to enjoy a seafood meal at one of the beachfront shacks that line the length of this popular tourist destination.

We walked along the tiled walkway that separates the restaurants from the beach, to check the sights and the available seafood. The walk had made us thirsty and a chilled beverage was the need of the hour. We had made a short-list of the restaurants to choose from after checking the stuff on display. A restaurant that wasn’t crowded got our vote – Well, most shacks had a handful of diners because this is the fag end of the tourist season, with the weather getting hotter each day in Kerala.

The Service Staff who ushered us to our seats had a warm smile and made us feel welcome. All of us noticed it, but it was my wife who captured the essence of the experience while we walked back to the car after 2-3 happy hours of chatting, drinking and gourmandising:

“One doesn’t need a degree in Hotel Management to do a great service job. Till what Class you think that guy has studied – not even High School, I guess. But, just look at the way he remembered to do and say the right things at the right time. Fantastic! He made our visit to the place worth remembering.”

How does one teach Service Staff such things?

I’ve been to so many fine-dining restaurants and received such indifferent service. The staff usually treat visitors with such disdain. They somehow fail to think long – term or  from the customer’s point-of-view. They are busy doing a job.

So, what did Johnny do that made us feel different? No, this isn’t Johnny as in “Johnny-come-lately” or “Some Johnny”; that is his name! Mr.Johnny is special.

He wasn’t wearing a starched uniform or speaking in a clipped accent, but most wait staff at Kovalam know a smattering of English thanks to the interactions with 1000s of foreign tourists. He didn’t have slicked-back hair and his grooming was ordinary. But, all that just didn’t matter. He overwhelmed us with Care!

He suggested the best fish and the preparations that would suit our palate. When the food arrived he placed the food ordered at the right places, having remembered who had ordered what. Even when he was far from our table I noticed him glancing our way to check whether the glasses had beverages in them. He was not only keeping us happy but ensuring that the restaurant got more business. It was smart thinking!

While we ate the food Johnny stopped by to refill the plates and then asked the ladies whether the preparations had come out right – “How does it taste, Madam? Is everything okay?”

Post the meal his question was “Did you enjoy the meal?”

And after we settled the check and rose to leave he asked “Next time you aren’t going anywhere else? Come straight to our place and we will ensure that you have a good time.” Bingo!

It was a clever thing to say, but it also meant that he had heard us discuss the other restaurants on the beach. My wife and I had been telling our friends, who are from out-of-town, that we come here often and the other shacks serve good food too. He wasn’t lurking to gather juicy titbits from our conversation, just that when he visited our table the relevant bits of our exchanges stayed in his head to be used at the opportune moment. It is a useful skill.

Isn’t it plain common sense? I mean …  Customer Service:

–          Receive the customer with a smile

–          Help them make the choices

–          Suggest without sounding opportunistic

–          Be around to help

–          Sense the mood and the need

–          Keep the interaction going without intruding

–          Check whether the customer is happy

–          Be there to help throughout

–          Confirm that everything went well

–          Sign off in style

–          Tell the customer that you look forward to seeing them again

Johnny did all that with such style and he had not been taught any of it. He just picked it up along the way. He might just blink if one were to ask him about CRM, CLM and CSAT.

But he had what is took …. Service Attitude. The books tell you everything you wish to know on the subject but ultimately service is about sensing, feeling and doing.

The bill was not a small one but we were beaming as we walked away!

Johnny proved once again that ….. Good Customer Service makes great Business Sense!

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To contact AKSH People Transformation for Training and Coaching solutions go tohttp://www.akshworld.com or write to us at jayadev.menon@akshworld.com

Your face is your fortune!

April 1, 2013 14 comments

Harish, the Business Head of Netwhizz Technologies, is presenting a portal solution to a client (MD & Sales Manager present). This is a follow-up meeting and the Tech Specialist is with him to provide inputs on the “how” bits of the solution. They are describing to the client, who is in the Education Services business, the component of the solution – how their portal concept would help to improve his online presence and the ways this investment would provide useful business returns.

The meeting has not been going well because the MD is not happy with the solution offered and he was not making any attempt to hide his displeasure. The solution seemed too plain and uninteresting. He didn’t see it giving him any of the expected results. He said that Netwhizz had not read his requirements well and were trying to palm off a second-hand solution.

The Bossman walked up to the white-board to explain couple of ideas he had thought up since the first meeting. He wanted to portal to be different from those of his competitors – it had to stand-out! He had thought up the flow (how a person visiting the website would interact with the elements seen there) and even conceived a catchy interface that would be in the form of a game. But it was not cast in stone, he said; if they could rework the idea with any other interesting concept which could make his portal interesting he was willing to play along.

ImageWhile his back was turned to the rest of the group Harish looked at his tech-man and made a funny face, as if to say that the client was talking utter rubbish. He had an expression of disinterest throughout and was not paying attention.

While the client was describing the process Harish butted in to say – “That is what I have been saying all this while.”

The MD had not seen the play of emotions on Harish face, but his deputy had. But when this intrusion came the MD stopped the discussions and said abruptly – “Harish, thank you for your time. I am not happy with what you have shown me. If you can think up something better do come back another day with it. But don’t waste my time. In the meantime I am talking to a few other service providers too”. With that he walked out of the Conference Room.

Harish’s face now looked like it had received a slap with a wet fish!

We often forget that even when we remain silent our face is telling a big story – what’s going on inside our head is presented through our eyes and expressions.

And our words reveal those thoughts and feelings. Harish could have remained silent and listened to what the MD way conveying, even if it was what he had presented earlier. Then at an opportune moment he could have presented it as confirmation of the client thoughts. After all, letting the client win is the big idea in Sales.

Harish should never have conveyed his disinterest and scorn through his expressions – even if he felt those were poor ideas it could have been said outside the room. But then any smart Sales Pro knows that there are no stupid ideas in this world and you get nowhere by calling your client a fool.

Beware! One wrong expression, or word, can cost you a fortune!

Guest Relations- a changing concept?

December 8, 2012 3 comments

Dear Friends,

Day-1 of Year-2 for the Sales Coach Blog …. I had promised you that goals for the blog would be different this year and there would be interesting new features.

What better way to begin the year than getting the change implemented on the very first day …. the first new feature: Guest Writers!

Here is an article written by Jamshed Lateef (popularly known as Jamy), Guest Relations Manager at The Fairmont Royal Pavilion, Barbados. He studied Mechanical Engineering at College of Engineering, Trivandrum but then changed track and picked up a Diploma in Hotel & Tourism Management from Hotel Institute Montreux, Switzerland in 1997. He lives in Saint James, Barbados with his wife, Lily.

Jamy has been a regular visitor at the Sales Coach blog and his comments after reading each article were so detailed and insightful. Those inputs added hugely to the value of the articles I presented.

What better way to recognise his contributions to the development of the Sales Coach Blog than to ask him to present an article here; it is a matter of great joy and pride for me to present the first Guest article at this blog.

He talks about his own profession, which also is his pet subject – Guest Relations helps hugely in bringing repeat business and referral Sales for your organisation. Over to Jamy …

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Guest Relations- a changing concept?

First of all, it is an absolute honour to be invited to present an article on Sales Coach Blog.

Guest Relations Officers

Guest Relations Officers

The role of a Guest Relations Executive, Officer or Manager in the hospitality industry, and in general, has evolved over the years from being glamour-oriented to a key function instrumental in being the perfect ambassador.The person should also be knowledgeable and skilled to provide guests/ customers with a captivating  first impression and facilitate a thorough introduction to products and services.

Let us take a look at Disney’s concept of Guest Relations- anyone who has visited Disney’s theme parks would be pleasantly surprised to know that the ladies and gentlemen in charge of keeping guest and public areas neat and tidy are given the title Guest Relations because on a daily basis they interact with guests from all over the world and are trained to respond to basic guest queries and/or guide them in the right direction; they are not there only to maintain hygiene and sanitation.

Now, in established hotel chains, the Guest Relations function is usually the department in charge of producing the WOW! effect for return as well as first-time customers. The job description covers management and supervisory tasks related to the Front Office, Sales, PR, Food & Beverage and even duties and responsibilities of the Executive team in their absence. It is definitely not glamorous as I mentioned earlier, but a very important and responsible job function where the individual is always on stage and should be street-smart enough to think on his/her feet while carrying out daily duties and resolving issues.

As far as the modern guest is concerned, the Guest Relations Manager should be an encyclopedia of knowledge able to cater to all their needs, respond adequately to all their queries and be able to find solutions to all their issues without showing any signs of weakness. The moment you are unable to conform to the above some guests would pounce on you like vultures  and use you as an excuse to question the hotel’s reputation; some others would just ignore you for the rest of their vacation and escalate their issues to the higher-ups. Let us not forget the dangerous and deadly group who would resort to using websites like Trip Advisor, Expedia etc to tear into you relentlessly  and let the world know that they were not happy campers thanks to the substandard service they received or the fact that they did not get enough satisfaction with management’s resolution.

Everyone is looking for Quality and Value for their money spent which means that their expectations are greater than ever before. The Guest Relations Manager should always be prepared to step up and assist any front-of-the-house department in operations to ensure that guests receive a high standard of service and there are no glaring deficiencies staring at them to make the service below – expectations. It is always good to have working knowledge and experience in supporting departments before taking on the position of Guest Relations Manager.

What about the expectations of management and other departments? Ah! Never thought about that right?

The Food & beverage team expect the Guest Relations function ( Guest Relations / Concierge) to provide accurate and prompt information to guests and hustle if necessary to fill up the restaurants and thereby generate revenue. The Sales & Marketing team expect Guest Relations to jump in at short notice to conduct Site Inspections and be the point person for Groups in-house. The Front Office department requires the Guest Relations function to support them through the whole Guest Cycle: Pre – Arrival, Arrival, In – house and Departure and also to stand in for the Front Office Manager. The Executive team expects the Guest Relations Manager to be the Regular Duty Manager taking the initial blows from discerning guests and resolving the issues by being patient , empathetic, following up and most importantly following through.

The Guest Relations Manager should always be on the lookout for ways to enhance a guest’s vacation by asking the right questions not only on arrival, but also during interactions throughout their stay – at cocktail parties, afternoon teatime etc and also when they are fully relaxed by the beach and pool. Picking up valuable information like anniversaries and birthdays, special dietary requirements, hobbies and interests and using the same to surprise and WOW! guests by adding value to their stay is one of the major expectations of the Executive Team as far as Guest Relations is concerned.

Now, what is the best reward that you can get for performing all of the above consistently over a period of time? Most people might say monetary benefits like FAT TIPS from the guests, a bonus, salary raise, a mention on Trip Advisor or a complimentary letter to the Executive!! But is that what a true professional is looking for in terms of Job Satisfaction?

Recognition from Higher Management like a pat on the back, a simple Thank You from a guest for making their stay memorable promising to return and recommend to friends and family, a bear hug from a child who became attached to you during their stay – the pure satisfaction that you get out of such gestures is the biggest reward that a passionate and loyal Guest Relations Manager can ask for; whose integrity and commitment to excellence is always challenged by different  situations which are part and parcel of the hospitality industry.

Guest Relations is a specialist function and you are either blessed with the necessary skills and mindset for it or it is just not meant for you ….. its as simple as that!

Buying a Computer: Part-2 :: Booting Up!

December 6, 2012 8 comments

The need was a computer – not a high-end one because I wasn’t a software programmer or a gamer. And since I wasn’t a high-end gizmo freak the fancy brands weren’t under consideration either – a sturdy machine that permitted use of regular office applications, access to Social Media and viewing videos was the need of the hour.

The first shop visited after research on the Internet and discussion with family and friends had shown no interest in my patronage and I walked out in disgust.

At the next one I was greeted by a young Salesman who had no experience in Computer Sales and had not been trained to do the job. I was at my wit’s end and on the verge of walking out a second time when like a welcome breeze a smart young guy named Sanu walked up and introduced himself. He had sensed that I was not happy.

The first thing he did was request me, with a pleasant smile on his face, to get seated at one of the Discussion Consoles arranged in the showroom. He took my name and telephone number and asked me to describe my work and the applications I regularly used at my workplace. With a few smart questions he was able to understand my requirement with great clarity. My annoyance was evaporating.

He even asked whether I had narrowed in on any particular brand – that indicated his awareness of the decision-making process followed by most prospects. The most heartening aspect of Sanu’s presentation was his ability to balance business with the personal touch. He was friendly without being invasive and all that was done while focusing on the customer’s requirement. He clearly defined my need and kept me in good humour throughout the interaction.

I had gone in search of a Dell machine but he insisted that I buy Samsung. Suspicious me immediately got my antenna up because I thought he was doing it either to dump unsold stock or trying to earn a higher commission.

But he explained that Dell and other reputed brands used components purchased from Samsung – even iPhones and iPads had components made by Samsung. He went to explain why Samsung was better than Dell in the range I had zeroed in on I cross checked with my son and the IT savvy friend and got confirmation on the points discussed. Sanu waited patiently while I checked – the mark of a Salesman who was confident and knew what he spoke about. He did not interrupt at all, nor did he show any discomfort.

Even after I had confirmed the truth in his argument Sanu cheekily said that I can go for Dell if I wished. That is the hallmark of a professional – ability to use humour appropriately; that only comes with confidence and courage.

Sanu saw me through the process and before I left the showroom he said, while handing over his card – “Give me a call if you need any further help.”

There you have it – a job done well; another happy customer in the market.

He had built rapport, effectively deployed his persuasion skills and proven that he knew the subject well – all this was done in a friendly manner.

It was only yesterday that a friend from Dubai had shared an interesting video on the Science of Persuasion. I could relate Sanu’s performance with the many of the elements of persuasion identified by Prof. Cialdini. Take a look while I boot up my new laptop.

Customer Service Cameos – The joy of Service!

December 4, 2012 6 comments

There are many more insights to share on the service experiences my friends and I enjoyed during last week’s trip through South Tamil Nadu. In case you missed the first one in the series please find it by clicking here.

After a 500+ km journey from Trivandrum our group reached Kodikarai (Point Calimere), which is a tiny hamlet consisting of fisher folk and families that worked at the Salt Pans, the lighthouse and for the Tamil Nadu Forest Department. The place also had a permanent Research Station of BNHS (Bombay Natural History Society) and a unit of Indian Defense Services.

The hamlet had two tiny restaurants to serve the town folk and occasional travelers like us. They were thatched huts and the price demanded for the simple but lovely food made us city folks wonder aloud about their business model – a sumptuous breakfast for 4 cost us Rs.71/-. Yes, you read right … Rs.71/-!!

We had tried one outlet for breakfast and the other, on the previous night, for dinner. After the bill was settled, with a shocked expression,  one of us offered the young boy, who served us (he must be 15 or 16 years of age), some money as a tip.

He was visibly embarrassed and pulled his hand away from the note as if it were a serpent. He said – “No, Sir! I don’t want it.” It was our turn to be embarrassed – that we had behaved in such an uncouth manner.

One of the locals seated in the restaurant gibed – “Stupid guy! If you don’t want the money I shall accept it on your behalf.”

But the young fellow stood his ground and refused the money – we knew that a few extra rupees would help and forced the money into his pocket saying “We enjoyed your service. This is just a small token of our appreciation for your work.”

Thinking about the event later on I felt that we lessened his worth and spirit by doing that! We had just behaved the way city-folks usually did, without giving merit to the situation.

But the next day at Rameshwaram we experienced the reverse of this phenomenon. The bellhops at the hotel pestered us non-stop for tips, that too when they had done nothing. The night we checked-in we had tipped the boy who carried our bags to the room and after checkout we had carried our own luggage to the car – no help was sought. But the staff followed us to the car and asked for money. This was a tourist town and the waiters were used to “begging” for some extra cash. This was embarrassing too.

We hear about cab drivers in certain cities who refuse to take the tip because they consider themselves ambassadors of the city. They say that the service charge is included in the fare and only the bill amount needs to be settled.

There are nurses who go way beyond the call of duty to bring relief to patients and their worried family members through exceptional acts of love and caring – and they do it without any expectations.

And, to be completely fair, we do hear about a few professionals in big corporations whose exceptional acts of service have bailed people out of all sorts of trouble – and they do it just out of passion, without expecting a quid pro quo or recognition, not even acknowledgement! They were just doing their job.

Before writing this article I viewed a video on a Chennai auto driver who took service to a different level – he was doing it in a city where the auto-drivers are usually called “cheats” and “extortionists” by most customers!

What makes these people different?

Why were they so passionate about their work – it seemed doing exceptional work was routine and gave them all the compensation?

Were they culturally tuned to not accepting freebies? Did they feel that it is demeaning to be tipped?

Was it because they were not yet corrupted by the ways of the world – they were not “smart” yet?

Were they believers of that oft stated, and never applied, cliché “Work is worship!”?

I would love to hear from all of you on this subject.

I found that young fellow’s behavior exceptional; did you?

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