Whatís Holding You Back?
Of course, your answer is ďI donít have time.Ē But the reality is that we make time for things that are important. Maybe we donít know how important it is. Maybe there is more that we donít admit to ourselves. Here are the reasons Iíve heard over the years for why people donít call their customers:
ďI donít want to intrude on their dinner.Ē
ďI donít like telemarketers calling me, and I am not going to offend my customers.Ē
ďI donít know what to say.Ē
ďIím afraid of hearing about a problem. Better to let sleeping dogs lie.Ē
There is a huge misconception about telemarketers pushing bank loans to carpet cleaning services and confusing that as relevant to the idea of calling past customers. Think about it. Most customers you sold became a friendly acquaintance by the time the job was done. People like to hear from you. Arenít you flattered when the Nordstromís salesperson thinks you are important enough to call when a new season comes in? Your relationship with a decorating customer is far more personal than any clothing boutique.
Fearing problems is one of the biggest barriers to overcome. Yet, you are denying yourself the 95 percent of customers who will tell you how much they enjoy your work. I can tell you from thousands of customer calls, only a few will surface as a problem . . . and good salespeople want to know about them anyway.
When you call customers you win their loyalty. Because you remember them, they remember you. When you call, you bring a pleasant, but distant memory back to the surface. They can easily forget your name or how to reach you. They may want to refer you, but canít remember how.
About two percent of the customers you call are thinking about buying more window products. You never know when they will succumb to a competitorís promotional ad or a flyer left on the door. You donít own customers. You serve them. When you stay in touch, you serve them better. When you fail to stay in touch, they are logical prey for competitors.
Itís easy to call customers if you remember one thing: Make a friend. Thatís all there is to it. You donít have to trump up a reason. You donít need a special offer or promotion. All you need to do is just call and let customers know you are thinking about them. How easy is that? Who could possibly consider that an intrusion?
Remember, you are not trying to sell anything. You are not promoting products or offering a ďlimited time value.Ē You are simply calling to see how they are and to let them know that you are there to serve them. In fact, you will start off with a thank you and a comment about their last purchase. It is that easy. Do you want more? OK, here is an exact script to use. Try it. It works great . . . mainly because it is so simple.
This is Barbara Smith with ABC Window Treatments. I am just calling as part of our periodic follow up to be sure the window products you bought from us are looking right and performing correctly. Are they still looking good and working the way they should?
Great! Tell me, have you had any friends or relatives in your home since we installed them? What did they think of your good selection?
Super! Iím glad they appreciated your good taste. You really made a good selection. Well, thatís all I have to say. I just want to be sure things are working right and to be sure you call me if there is ever a problem, or if you have another room you might want to work on.
And, by the way, I build my business on referrals from customers like you. Some of my customers think I donít have time for referrals. I want to be sure you know that I do. I much prefer working with new customers that have seen my work. Please feel free to tell your friends about me.
Again, have a great summer. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Other Things To Know
Answering machines? Welcome them. Donít worry if you donít reach people and get a machine or voice mail. Just leave a friendly message like the one above. There are important psychological reasons why a voice message can sometimes work even better than a live connection. Remember, phone calls are a way to build awareness and to assure top-of-mind preference along with loyalty. Donít shrink from a machine. Leave the same friendly message.
How often to call? Call about four times per year. If you have more than 200 past customers that may be hard to do. So prioritize. Call your top 200. Then do the best you can with the rest.
How many will you reach? The time of day will affect how many you reach live. Before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m. are best, but call when you need to, donít worry what time it is. You should be able to dial about 20 to 25 an hour. You should reach about half, or less.
Appointments to expect? You may get an appointment for every 40 to 50 customers you reach. But remember, the point is to build loyalty and increase referrals. Appointments will follow naturally. But, donít let immediate appointments be the only reason you call. You will get them, but call because it is the right thing to do whether you get an immediate appointment or not.
There you have it! It is easy to do and your customers will love hearing from you. You will build more referrals, more repeat sales and a bigger following by making phone calls to remind customers you are thinking of them.
So, put your finger on the touch pad and dial away!
This article is based on Steven C. Burstenís actual experience with sales and financial information working with hundreds of window coverings businesses. Whether you are a sole manager who aspires to higher sales, or you manage 50 window fashion decorators in a multi-million dollar business, this series will help you manage sales better and increase your profitability. Bursten is co-founder of Window Coverings University and Exciting Windows! service. He also is the founder of Decorating Den Interiors and author of a how-to book on new business start up, ďBootstrap Entrepreneur.Ē Questions and comments are welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (888) 333-8981.