I’ve always believed we tend to over complicate the sales process. To me, it is not a question of a 5, 7 or 10 step sales process. Ultimately, it is a two-step process for me; solutions to problems and good feelings.
We spend a lot of time on the first step, and it is no doubt the weightier of the two in the process. But providing good feelings before, during and after the sale deserves its day in the sun too.
Recently, my wife and I went out to dinner at a higher end steakhouse. While we were not celebrating anything specific, it is a place known for people going to celebrate a birthday or anniversary. The food is excellent, so that is a reason I like to go to this restaurant once or twice a year.
The other reason is the customer service I’ve received every time I’ve visited.
This visit, I had a chance to watch the restaurant raise their game when it comes to customer service. At nearby tables, I watched the manager greet the guest as they always do. In a few instances, a person from the hostess stand returned a few minutes later and took pictures of the couple. At first, I thought it was the couple’s camera, but later I found out that it was the restaurant’s. She returned minutes later with a lovely card with a print of the picture taken moments ago, to commemorate the couple’s celebration at the restaurant. No charge, just a way of insuring good feelings with the customer.
It’s the little things that add up. What are you doing to provide those good feelings to your customers? Like the picture at the restaurant, it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Often times, the best good feelings we can create are those small things that mean so much to your customer.
Notice a good advertiser’s grandchild featured in the newspaper? Make sure you provide a tearsheet or two for their collection. You see some trash near the entry for your account? Bend over and pick it up and help maintain a proper appearance for your account. You get the point; find a way that can make a difference and you can make a connection with the account. I guarantee one of your competitors is looking for opportunities to do just that too, so don’t let them beat you.
Radio sales reps in my market seem to always have a fist full of tickets to concerts and sporting events. While I might have had a few now and then, I could never compete with the freebies the local radio station could access.
The other thing that has always amazed me about that restaurant? Every time we’ve eaten there, we receive a thank you note. Seriously, a thank you note from our waiter / waitress. My wife and I have mused about how they possibly got our address. Perhaps through our name on the credit card, probably from the reservations we’ve made. Either way, it is impressive to get that thank you note about a week after our dinner.
I need to practice what I preach, and send more thank you notes. I don’t send enough, and I’m willing to bet you and your sales staff doesn’t either. Handwritten notes are incredibly old fashioned in this era of email and instant communication. All the more reason to do it, if you ask me.
Providing good feelings as a part of the sales process doesn’t have to be flashy. You just have to do it, and that alone helps to set you a part from the crowd in the eyes of your customer.
Pete Van Baalen, general manager for Fort Wayne Newspapers, is a member of the HSPA board of directors and president of Indiana Newspaper