Determining your customer’s budge – DON’T ask this

When helping customers make buying decisions, we of course need to come up with options that are going to fit their budget. The problem is we can sometimes shoot ourselves in the foot, depending on how we ask…

Q. “How much do you want to spend?”
A. Nothing. I don’t want to spend any money. I want to get this as cheap as possible.

Q. “What’s your budget?”
A. None of your business. Just tell me your prices and I’ll decide if you’re in the ballpark.

Note - customers likely won’t say these out loud. This is their inside voice.

Having delivered trusted advisor customer service and sales training programs for over 30 years, I’ve often learned as much from clients as they’ve learned from me. As a way of passing it forward, here are two alternative phrases that I’ve learned from my clients when asking about budgets. Fyi, these have been field tested with even skeptical, reluctant customers:

“What price range are you comfortable with?”
“Is there a budget I should be aware of?”

Either of these phrases is more apt to get you the numbers you’ll need without causing offence. And they avoid encouraging customers to lowball their estimate. Not bad results for adjusting a few words.

Converting onetime buyers into lifelong customers

Congratulations – you just made a sale! That’s the good news. The bad news is a onetime sale is no guarantee that the customer will return. Nor will they necessarily refer you. Fortunately, as I share in this video, there are 4 simple, low-cost ways you and your team members can convert onetime buyers into lifelong customers. Plus, these same tips will help generate more referrals and positive reviews.

What your customers are REALLY Saying

Imagine a survey reveals that 96% of your customers are satisfied with your service. This is where I often see managers assuming that the company is doing great. They jump to the conclusion that with a 96% satisfaction rating they’re getting an A+ score from customers. Actually, the survey only showed that a lot of customers consider the service to be adequate. Customers are not saying that they were impressed or delighted or even pleased-merely that they were satisfied. Imagine your sweetheart talking to a close friend and describing you as being adequate. You’d probably see that as a reason for concern! It certainly isn’t a reason to think you’re getting an A+ performance rating. I wonder… what does your customer feedback really say?

Hiring Motivated Employees

Here’s a novel idea I learned at a conference where I was invited to lead a session on how to motivate customer service staff. Since all the attendees were seasoned business owners and managers, the conference organizers asked me to facilitate an exchange of best practices, as well as adding my own process for improving the service culture. One manager shared that he now schedules his job interviews for Saturday mornings – at 6am! He says only a fraction of the people who apply actually show up, but those who do are already more reliable and have a better work ethic than the rest of the candidates. Makes sense… the first step to having a motivated team is to hire motivated people.

5 quick tips for calming angry customers

No doubt you’ve been hearing lots about staffing shortages. One reason for employee turnover is dealing with customers who are frustrated by supply chain delays and price increases. One misspoken word with an angry customer can set them off. That’s why in this video I’m sharing 5 tips for getting angry customers to back down – without being rude.

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Simple tip for happier customers and more profit

Years ago on a family vacation, the sign for a roadside ice-cream shop surprised me. The sign facing the highway featured in large letters, “PUBLIC RESTROOMS”. I also noticed the place was packed with customers ordering-up their 14 flavours. Interesting how by offering their restrooms to the world, the world was rewarding them. Yet so often businesses have negative signs like, “Restrooms for customers only”, "No refunds w/o receipt”, “Cancelled appointments will be charged”, etc. I believe too many managers cling to an attitude of scarcity. They are so afraid of minor losses and incidental costs that they literally post signs that annoy customers. There are costs of doing business. Rather than fighting them, maybe we should do the opposite – embrace an attitude of abundance and create policies and signage that errs on the side of generosity. Sometimes, as with the ice cream store, nice folks do finish first.

7 tips to grow your business without advertising

Managers and business owners often assume that the fastest way to grow your business is to gain new customers. Ironically that’s the LAST thing to do. In this video, I share 7 customer service tips and strategies to grow your business, without paying a cent on advertising.

How may I Rush you?

When organizations bring me in to do presentations on customer service, one of the easiest areas for improvement may be how they answer their phones. For example, a typical phone greeting could be, “Good morning, this is ABC org, Susan speaking. How may I help you?” Sounds good in theory, but in reality there are 4 negatives: 1. It’s too long, so employees rush through with a monotone. 2. Employees confuse times and mistakenly say, good afternoon. 3. Finishing with ‘how can I help you’ rushes customers to get to the point – instead of introducing themselves. 4. The caller misses the employee’s name because it’s skimmed over early in the sentence. A more effective greeting is simply, “Thank you for calling ABC org, this is Susan.” It’s short, friendly, and helps customers remember your name while encouraging them to offer theirs.

Team Building at Work – the REAL secret

Does this ever happen in your workplace? The manager who was bringing me in to train his team explained, “Jeff, I can understand when employees make a mistake. What drives me crazy is when team members cover their backsides and blame one another when foul-ups occur. We need a greater commitment to teamwork.” The problem is mosttypical approaches to teamwork are actually counterproductive.

Check out this video where I share what does work to create a more cohesive and cooperative team.

What NOT to say when closing a sale

A common blunder when trying to influence others is talking too much. This is particularly true after asking a question. For example, a sales representative might “close” by asking, “Your thoughts on…?” At this point the rep needs to REMAIN SILENT. The silence maybe awkward, but it’s critical to wait while the other person makes that buying decision. More often than not, by remaining silent you’ll receive an affirmative answer. When it comes to influencing others, silence really is golden.


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