Meridith Elliott Powell: Welcome to Sales Logic, the podcast where we dive into the strategies and techniques. We give you everything you need to know to well, sell logically. I’m Meridith Elliott Powell and I’m here with my cohost,
Mark Hunter: Mark Hunter, the Sales Hunter. Good afternoon, Meridith. Great to have you for another show.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah, it’s exciting. Mark, why don’t you tell everybody what’s on board for today?
Mark Hunter: Well, we got quite a few things, actually four things that we do– every show we kind of go through a topic, have a question that comes in from you, the audience, we do a lightning round and we highlight a book and hey, I should really throw this out right now.
If you have a question, we want you to jump out to saleslogicpodcast.com, leave us a question or just go out to social media, leave a question with the hastag #saleslogic. And maybe next week, your question will be the one that we answer. That’s really what this show is all about. It’s about kind of giving logical ideas to sales challenges.
And let me tell you something, there’s a few sales challenges out there right now, but what’s the biggest challenge you’re facing or you’ve heard people face in the last week?
Meridith Elliott Powell: You know, the biggest thing that I’m hearing right now is really making that transition to selling virtually and selling effectively.
I feel like people have gone through their low hanging fruit, and now they’re really into trying to get new prospects. How do you onboard brand new salespeople and how do you connect and build relationships and personally with customers that you’ve never met before?
Mark Hunter: You know, that is so true.
I was talking with a VP of sales today, and he shared with me that the biggest problem he is facing is that his salespeople are chasing shiny objects. They’re so desperate for business because the verticals that they normally work in are just not functioning right now, so they’re off chasing.
He says has to keep them focused. There’s business if we stay in very specific lanes and wow, that’s so common for salespeople just to go sideways right now. But to keep us from going sideways, we should probably jump in and start things off with the question.
I’m going to go ahead and share the topic we’re going to talk about and it’s related to how everyone talks about having perfect customers, but what’s the process of creating and keeping them? With that, let’s jump back to the question. The question we have comes from Peter in Atlanta. Peter says “I have customers who have been saying they’re going to buy since before COVID and still nothing. Well, what am I doing wrong?” Gee, Peter, you and everyone else has the same question.
So great question. Meridith, why don’t you jump in first? Let’s give Peter some advice.
Meridith Elliott Powell: I love this question, Mark. I think that you’re going to be perfectly situated to answer it, given that you started this off by talking about the fact that you had a client that “ghosted” you, who has now come back to the fold.
Peter first, I want to change your mindset. It isn’t that you’re doing anything wrong, but there’s a couple of things we want to go back in and look at. Number one is to ask if you are taking time every single month to reflect on your pipeline. And what I mean by that is just taking a little bit of quiet time every 30 days, and looking very realistically at your pipeline, because what I don’t know about these customers right now is, I don’t know if these customers are really in your customer avatar, if they fit your highly qualified customer, perfect customer profile.
I also don’t know how many criteria they meet for you to actually close the sale. For example, you could be chasing business where you’re not necessarily talking to the decision maker where somebody told you that they want to buy from you, but they don’t necessarily have the budget.
You might not have qualified the need, they may be in lukewarm phase, but they’re not in urgent phase. The first thing I want you to do is to go back and do basically a sales autopsy and see. When you look at these customers, what are the reasons you really believe they’re not buying now? Then you can start to separate them into ‘hot prospects’, ‘lukewarm prospects’, or ‘maybe prospects’. You need to nurture along the way. What about you Mark?
Mark Hunter: Well, that’s so true because you don’t know what you don’t know because you don’t know what you don’t know. We were talking in the pre-show about the customer that had, so to speak, “ghosted” me.
Now I knew I was dealing with the qualified decision makers, the VP of sales, since they’ve bought from me before. We had kind of gotten into a holding pattern, but I wasn’t giving up. I kept coming back and checking in, and checking in. Every time I communicated with him, I brought new value.
And today, suddenly, he responded, we got time on the calendar and why he was not responding was not because of anything on my end, it was because of factors and issues going on in his company. You see sometimes what happens is you have to realize it’s out of our control, but don’t give up.
I kept bringing them new value. But here’s what’s so key, and this is what I think every salesperson has to keep in mind. You can wind up spending all of your time, just chasing stuck stuff and it literally sucks all of your day. You have to make sure, and I love how you said it, like an autopsy and look what’s in there.
I always say I’m going to take all my stuck customers and I’m going to break them down and put them into very specific verticals. What I do for one, I can do for another, what I do for these two, I can do for another one. In other words, it makes my time more worthwhile. And when I do that, I actually have the ability to reach out to more customers faster with actually better content, better delivery, because you know what I really think if that customer, and you use the word avatar, lines up with who- the avatar you want to be going after, and I say this- it has to line up with at least 70% of the attributes of your avatar. If it doesn’t line up with at least 70% of the attributes of the avatar, you’ve said it’s your perfect customer, but cut them loose and move on.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah, Mark, you’re making such a great point there because the importance of moving on is something I think that we as sales professionals- I think one thing I love about us is we’re so excited by the hunt, right? I mean, like rejection is something we get excited about. Just want to come, you know, go stronger to try to get the sale. But every time you say yes to chasing a prospect, you’re saying no to chasing another prospect and a prospect that could be better qualified, have a higher sense of need.
At the same time, Mark said something really important about his client that ghosted him for awhile. People are busy, they have a lot going on in their lives. I had a client just last month that we right in the middle of planning something and he had to put his mother into a nursing home. And then they got crazy with trying to decide whether they were going to do virtual school with their kids or get their kids back in the classroom.
All of a sudden, while he wanted to move forward on our project, it just wasn’t his hottest priority. And you’ve got to understand that sometimes when you’re being ghosted, it’s not necessarily about you. But again, if I were going to give you one tip to take, it would go back and do the autopsy, spend the time every month, really reflecting and asking yourself, have you qualified this prospect?
Do you know enough to really qualify them as an A? And if you have, and they’re not lying, I understand it may not be about you. You’ve got to nurture that lead along. Even though we are, especially in the age of COVID, we’re not controlling the buying cycle. If at any point people don’t like us, don’t feel like they trust us -they’ll move on and buy a product from somebody else. Nurture the relationship and treat it that way.
Mark Hunter: That’s good. Hey, with that, we should probably move into the topic of the day, but we’ve got that new piece where we’re talking about a book. And you’ve got the book this week. I know you’ve read it and I’ve read it. We both know the author, great guy. So what’s the name of the book?
Meridith Elliott Powell: It is. Can you see it? The Cult of the Customer by Shep Hyken. I liked it so much I’ve actually read this book twice. And I’ve got another one I want to talk about on this show that I’ve actually read twice, but the premise of this is basically, it’s not enough to really just satisfy customers in today’s environment.
You’ve got to create people who really become passionate about your organization. It really defines you as very different by the experience that you’re providing, I love to do because it’s a practical read, it’s an easy read. You can see it’s not that book, but Shep really dives into everything you really need to understand, to truly create a cult following for your business, which is gonna grow your business in spades.
Mark Hunter: What made the book great for me is in the back of the book are all the worksheets, all the templates. I mean, he has got so many hands-on tools that you can really use to not only measure customer satisfaction, but how do you create more of it and so forth? It’s really great. I reached out to Shep after I read the book, I said, ‘Shep, man, you gave away the farm. I mean, you gave away everything.’ And he said, well, that’s how I create great customers. I give it all away.’ And it’s like, wow. It is a great book, Cult of the Customer by Shep Hyken.
But if you are challenged at all with any customer service issues, or you’re just looking for a way to differentiate yourself in the marketplace, I highly recommend this book. Great read.
Mark Hunter: With that, let’s jump into the topic for today. Everyone talks about having perfect customers. What’s the process to creating and keeping them? Meridith, the floor is yours.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Well, I love the fact that you said the process to getting them and keeping them cause that’s right, that really is the goal. I mean, far too often, we focus on trying to get the perfect customer, but you want to retain them and deepen that relationship.
I will get to that later as we go on. I think if you want perfect customers and I would define a perfect customer as somebody that brings a smile to your face, you enjoy working with them and they enjoy working with you, they love your products and services, etc. – they’re your champions.
Perfect customers refer you to other people. They never quibble about your price, and they really look to you as a resource. If you want those types of customers, you’ve got to start out by defining them. I’ll go back to that client avatar piece. Everybody has a type. I mean, Mark and I are both in the sales space, but the customers that gravitate to him and the customers that gravitate to me are different.
You’ve got to define who’s your niche. Who’s your type? Who is your ideal? If you want to attract them, you need to begin by knowing who they are.
Mark Hunter: Well, and that really builds on the whole thing that you get customers who are like you. I wrote about this, in my newest book – A Mind For Sales.
How, you know, when people sit there and say that they have sucky customers or lousy customers, bad customers. I go, well, the chances are that’s the persona that you exude. We really attract, you know, I’m always talking about selling with integrity and I always hate using that word because I just hate using it- but when you sell with integrity, demonstrate integrity, you tend to attract customers who have integrity. The whole idea about creating and keeping great customers is by you treating them in the same way that they will treat you. The example I love to use is Southwest airlines.
Okay. I get it. None of us are flying that much anymore, but if you think about it, how do you get upset at a Southwest flight attendant when they’re so nice? How do you get upset? Right? It’s amazing. We create the customers. And we create the loyalty. We create the following by who we are.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah. I also think that if you want perfect customers, you’ve got to work on becoming a perfect salesperson. A perfect salesperson means that, you know, basically your customers are going to treat you, kind of like what Mark just said, on how you treat them. If you want customers who come back to you for repeat business, if you want customers who give you referrals- then you need to be that type of salesperson who is checking in with them. You need to really be one step ahead of their needs, who makes sure that they’re so well taken care of that it’s easy for them to see the difference between you and every other sales rep they work with and giving them reasons to brag about you.
But you think about the fact of once you understand who your perfect customer is and how you want that customer to treat you, then you need to say, what am I doing to earn those things? If I want repeat business, what am I doing to get repeat business? If I want referrals, what am I doing to get referrals?
If I don’t want price to be an issue, what am I doing to get price off the table? So really judge yourself, according to those steps so that it’s easy for them to be a perfect customer because you’re answering their every question along the way.
Mark Hunter: And you do that by putting the customer first.
You know, it’s so easy to view, and I’ve used this example before, it’s easy to view customers as if they were a bowling pin. Your objective is just to knock them down and take their money and move on to the next sale. However, when you treat them as people, when you treat them as people and you really truly understand what they are trying to accomplish, it is amazing how the customer begins to pick that up. The customer begins to sense and see that and they begin to trust you. Trust is a two-way street. Great customers, great salespeople do just kind of go together. I rarely see a lousy salesperson and a great customer.
I just don’t see that very often because the great customer is not going to stick around. And so trust becomes a two-way street. You have to be willing to go there, the extra mile. Now, going the extra mile does not mean giving away the farm. Going the extra mile means just listening to them and understanding where they’re coming from and looking downstream.
How are you putting the customer’s interests before yours? When you do that, the customer picks up on that. They sense that and that’s how you wind up keeping that. I’ll give you a quick example- I was talking to a salesperson this morning as I’ve had nothing but sales calls all day today, and he was saying that he took a piece of business that he’s not really actively out looking for sales, but took a business from a competing customer.
The only reason they did is because the customer said, you at least acknowledge us. You treat us with respect, we’re going to give you the business. And he was shocked by that. How could somebody not do that? But you know what, it’s amazing how many people don’t. Just treating people with respect. It’s amazing what can happen.
Meridith Elliott Powell: I think you said something important in there that I think is really pertinent to the subject, and that is that if you want perfect customers, you have to have the guts to get rid of the ones that aren’t. To really look, we’re all servicing customers right now that we shouldn’t be servicing.
We know that because the day that we have to deal with them, we don’t want to deal with them. It’s always a hassle. We’ve all landed that piece of business that was more trouble on the backend, but you only have capacity for “X” amount of customers. If you want to attract more perfect customers, you have to create the room in your portfolio to do that and that is courage to let go of the ones that aren’t a good fit.
Mark Hunter: Wow, you just tore the band-aid off the wound with that one. Right now, I think a lot of people have got customers that are not really good, but they’re keeping them around because of cashflow.
They’re keeping them around because it’s the only business they have. I’ll tell you what, what it’s doing is first of all, you’re not making money off of them. Because if they’re problem customers, guess what, they are sucking resources out the backend. So you’re not making the money that you think you’re making.
And B, you don’t have the ability to spend time with good customers. I know this is tough and can be a tough pill to swallow, but over the years, I’ve had to let go of customers, but I always look back, every time I’ve done that and know that it was the right decision. It was the right move to make.
You get good customers when you hang around with good customers.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yup, and when you have the room to invite them in and take care of them. Cause you could have perfect customers within your portfolio right now, but you just don’t have the time because you’re weighed down by other things.
Mark Hunter: Well, that’s so good because really we don’t spend enough time with the best. This is kind of like prospecting. This is where I say so many people get messed up from a prospecting standpoint because they have too many leads. They have too many leads and they can’t nurture them. They can’t develop them.
They can’t- and what I say is really what you want to do is you want to have a few really good prospects that you can spend more time with. Kind of the same thing with customers, because I will venture to say that every customer you have, where you’ve landed, there’s an ability to expand. There is an ability to expand either with more business from them or by way of referrals or by way of connecting in some other way.
But take those good customers, treat them with respect, but know that there’s always an ability to expand. And when you expand, you’re actually providing them a better service. Don’t hold back. Don’t hesitate on-” well, I can’t talk to them about that stuff. I can’t talk to him. It’ll be like I’m pushing.” No, no, no, no, no. If you have the ability to help someone, it’s your responsibility to help.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Which also brings up the point that if you want to have perfect customers, you’ve got to do your research. You’ve got to do your homework and you’ve got to really know them. You’ve got to really know them at a level that you’re able to help them.
You have to understand their industry. You have to understand their business. You’ve got to have that relationship and the depth of that relationship to really be able then to add advice, add resources to things that you want to at another level. But if you’re not doing the work on the front end- it cracks me up… I mean, two times today, I already got somebody to pitch me on LinkedIn. And all I did was accept their connection, you know, and I’m thinking, huh? Why would I buy anything from you? I don’t even know you. Now, I could be their perfect customer, but they skipped that relationship building step. And that’s really key in the perfect customer connection, I think.
Mark Hunter: Oh, there are so many things we can talk about. I’ll share one more piece then we’ll need to get into the lightning round, but, you know, what’s interesting, you talked about the industry and I’m always amazed at how little information people know about the industries they sell into.
If you’re not seen as a great expert, if you’re not seen as the smarter kid in the room by your customers, I mean, please go spend more time reading. I just did a video on this – go check it out on YouTube. I’m calling it the “The 30 Day Challenge.” Take 30 days, 30 minutes a day, and do a deep dive reading and studying and learning about your industry.
You do that 30 minutes a day for 30 days and guess what? You’re going to wind up knowing a tremendous amount of additional information which is going to help you with your customers. Oh, there’s so much there, but anyway, time is kind of slipping away.
So we should probably jump into the lightning round. The lightning round question: how do I nurture my great customers? Go.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Tip to nurture your great customers is number one, find out what’s important to them specific to them, something that they really like. Mark and I have a mutual friend and I was getting ready to send her something and the typical thing to send would be flowers, but I know she loves bacon, so I sent bacon. Because you need to know your customers or your clients. You need to know what’s important and what’s valuable to them. It tells them you’re listening.
Mark Hunter: I guess I’m not important to you, Meridith, because I’ve never received bacon from you, but we’ll leave that as a side note. We’ll talk about that later.
Anyway. Hey, here’s whole thing. What do you know about your customer’s customer? You nurture great customers. You help develop them by really understanding who they’re selling to. Who are they serving? The more you know about them, the more valuable they will be to you.
Meridith Elliott Powell: I would add to that that you need to understand their competition.
What are the markets they’re competing in? What are the challenges that they’re up against and where are their opportunities in the marketplace? You need to understand their competition really better than they do.
Mark Hunter: I’ll add, share with them insights that go beyond what you sell. Share with them, insights about the industry. I have a number of customers that I will routinely send- well, you and I have worked on a white paper to get it- I’ll send that to customers and it’s amazing how they respect me and they love me for it.
Meridith Elliott Powell: I would say, open doors for them. Try to get them some business, make connections for them, both who can just help to build their network as well as create new opportunities. Show them that you’re as invested in growing their businesses as they are.
Mark Hunter: Some people will say this is weird, but I love reaching out to my best customers on the weekend. On a Saturday morning, I’ll send them an email, a link or something. And they’re shocked that Mark is thinking about me on a weekend. But it’s amazing the commentary, the comments I get back. They are always positive and they really show your value to them. The comments communicate that they want to keep me around.
Meridith Elliott Powell: I would say remember the day that they started doing business with you and send them an anniversary card on that day.
So many of your competitors remember people’s birthdays. They remember people’s wedding anniversaries and things, but a really special day to remember is the day that they first did business with you. And if you can do something important around that day, it’s going to truly differentiate them and cement just how much the business means to you.
Mark Hunter: And I’m going to add to that. Do you know what their personal goals are? Do you know what their KPIs are? If you’re going to call this a great customer, you better understand what motivates them personally, what’s driving them personally. What are they being measured on?
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah, that’s a great one. I would also add to that is that really what are you doing to help them stay one step ahead in the marketplace? At least once a year with those customers, you should be sitting down and doing a deep dive. The last contact I always make before the holiday season is that letting them know that first week of January, I’ll be reaching out to really make the plan and the strategy of how we can work together in the coming year.
I don’t ask that as a question. I make it a statement, but it’s the time that I really set aside just to get a really good thorough understanding of where they’re headed in the next year. And from there, I can figure out the products and services that I can sell to help them get there.
Mark Hunter: I love recommending books to them. Not the books I write, but the books that other people write and why I think they should read it. I just did that the other day. And the customer reached back out to me and said, thank you. It’s an excellent book.
Why don’t you share one more? And then we’ll kind of shut things down.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Solve problems that have nothing to do with you or your product or service. I’ve had a lot of my clients lately calling saying my team’s really struggling with burnout and work life balance now that we’ve gone virtual and that’s not my problem. That’s not my wheelhouse, but I’m providing tools and resources to help them solve that problem.
Mark Hunter: You stole that one right out from under me, because that’s what I was going to end with. Instead, I’ll end with this one. Never take that relationship for granted because when you take a relationship for granted, it’s amazing how quickly they’ll find somebody else to fill that void.
Hey, with that, we need to kind of shut down this episode of Sales Logic.
We want to say thank you for listening to Sales Logic this week. If you like what you hear, subscribe, rate, and review the show on your favorite podcast app. If something we’ve said has earned you a single dollar, consider telling a friend about our show. It’s how we grow to help you grow. I’m Mark Hunter.
Meridith Elliott Powell: And I’m Meridith Elliott Powell.
Mark Hunter: Remember when you sell with confidence and integrity,
Meridith Elliott Powell: uncertainty suddenly becomes your competitive advantage.
Mark Hunter: And the sale becomes logical. See you next week.
Copyright 2020, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.