Here's the September 2011 issue of Psyche-Selling TM eNewsletter, and customers are demanding more creative solutions from you.
While many people may believe that excellent service is the key to enhance customer loyalty, customers may care a lot more for the results you deliver, rather than the great service you offer. This is especially true for Business-to-Business (B2B) customers, where they rely on suppliers to provide creative and customised solutions in order to achieve better results.
At the same time, customer service professionals are facing constraints such as resources, costs or simply company policies, which sometimes could restrict the variety and quality of the solutions for customers.
Hence, this month's topics:
This issue's main article is on "Helping Customers Get from Where They Are to Where They Want to Be", and we look into how you can provide creative customer solutions DESPITE the constraints you face at work.
In the meantime, get a complimentary assessment of your shape/ profile by logging on to http://www.psychogeometrics.com/onlinetest.php and key in CYDJ as coupon code to waive the charges of the assessment. The waiving of charges is valid until 15 Nov 2011.
Also, Asia's final session of Thinking with de Bono will be held in Shanghai on 28 October 2011. Join us before Dr. Edward de Bono retires from travelling to this part of the world forever.
Helping Customers to Get from Where They Are to Where They Want to Be
by c.j. Ng
Certified Facilitator, Six Thinking Hats®
Sheila is the Key Account Manager for one of those "nightmare" Key Accounts, F-Tone Corp. While F-Tone produced huge volumes in sales annually, their margins are rather thin. In addition, their Procurement Director has been squeezing Sheila for lower prices as part of their annual "cost-down" initiative, or risk having that Key Account switching to other competitors.
That's not all. As part of Shelia's company's initiative, she would have to improve her service standards to enhance customer satisfaction so as to achieve greater customer loyalty. Unfortunately for Sheila, F-Tone has been quite a tough act to follow as far as service is concerned. Some of their "unreasonable" behaviours include:
The above challenges can be easily solved had F-Tone agreed to holding some buffer inventory, which their Procurement Director flatly refused whenever Sheila raised the matter due to the former's JIT (Just-In-Time) policies. When Sheila is not able to provide what her customer wants, her management starts to perceive her as not "customer-centric" and not doing her best to improve her customer's "experience" with the company.
Sheila is now in a tight spot. While she would like to keep the Key Account since they produced large volumes, managing their expectations is becoming somewhat impossible for her now. Sheila needs to seek creative solutions that will win her customer's way of thinking.
Know Thyself and Thy Customer
As Sun Tzu puts it, "Know yourself and know your adversary, a hundred battles fought and not be imperiled in any" (知己知彼，百战不贻), just that in this case, the customer is now the "adversary". Since Sun Tzu also mentioned that "the best victory is won without fighting" （不战而屈人之兵，善之善者也）, customers are to be won over without fighting them.
There are 2 aspects which you might need to know about your customers:
As in the above fictitious scenario, most sales people and Account Managers liaise with the Purchasing or Procurement department most of the time. Generally speaking, most Purchasing departments are "gatekeepers" where their job is to ensure suppliers' compliance to their company's policies and regulations. They are detail-oriented and will strictly follow procedures. In Psychogeometrics® terminology, they are a "Box". Pls. see below for a brief explanation of the various shapes/ communication styles:
You can get a complimentary assessment of your shape/ profile by logging on to http://www.psychogeometrics.com/onlinetest.php and key in CYDJ as coupon code to waive the charges of the assessment. The waiving of charges is valid until 15 Nov 2011. You can also refer to our previous newsletter to get a clearer understanding of these shapes/ communication styles.
The "Box" customer seeks to make everybody comply to what he deems are his company's policies, initiatives and objectives. Anything that does not fit into the "Box's" perception of "standard operating procedures" will be viewed with suspicion.
When dealing with the "Box" customer, sales people will have to adapt and come prepared with supporting facts, figures and evidence. If a sales person want to get the "Box" customer hold some buffer inventory, she would have to prepare the facts of the costs of holding such inventory, and the precise calculations of the benefits of holding such buffer inventory. This is something that many sales people are not prepared to do, but if the "Box" customer is not totally convinced, you won't be able to influence them to your way of thinking.
Getting Customers to Get to Where They Want to Be
To the seller, getting the customer to hold buffer inventory is a great way to counteract against sudden changes in their production schedules. To the buyer, however, holding excess inventory means incurring additional costs. Both are right in their opposing points-of-views. Sales people and Account Managers will have to be careful NOT to end up in arguments with customers.
When advocating customers to take actions, sales people might need to understand 2 issues:
As such, here are some questions that you need to clarify, so as to know the causes of your customers' actions and behaviours, as well as the objectives that they want to achieve:
Are the things that you need the customer take action upon
within control of the customer?
Have you developed the
Have you developed the relationship with
Generating Creative Solutions to Difficult Customer Situations
When faced with tough and challenging customer situations, sales people tend to rely on their instincts and past experience to resolve the situation. In most sales-related advice, it has almost always been to go directly to the Decision Maker if your customer are simply implementing other people's decisions. In reality, it is easier said than done. The good news though, is that there are other ways to help customers get from where they are, to where they want to be.
Without jumping into any assumptions, the first thing to clarify with the customer is "where they would want to go". In the above story, the Procurement Director's objectives could be:
Having these in mind, sales people would have to generate creative solutions to solve often-contradictory objectives, which in this case is to have on-demand supplies, yet have low costs of inventory, AND still make everyone happy.
While it may be very challenging to provide a solution to such a predicament, there have been ways to reach such solutions depending on the industry, the corporate cultures of both buyers and sellers, and the creative perseverance of the sales person. The critical steps are:
Need help in helping your customers get from where they are to where they want to be? Simply e-mail email@example.com or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a mocha. All information shall be kept in confidence.
(The case story in the article are strictly fictitious. Any resemblance to any real organisations, people or events are purely coincidental)
Power Breakfast Hour: 19 Oct 2011
Join International sales, leadership and strategic thinking consultant c.j. Ng in this Power Breakfast Hour in Shanghai where you will find out:
How to build trust and rapport with demanding customers in difficult and challenging situations;
How to understand the causes of bad customer behaviour, AND the objectives that you can help them achieve; and
How to use some Lateral Thinking methods to create innovative solutions for customers that work!
VENUE: Crowne Plaza Shanghai • 400 Panyu Road (near Fahuazhen Road) • 上海银星皇冠酒店 • 番禺路 400 号 （靠法华镇路）
To make this a more conducive discussion, we are expecting a small group of about 15 people only. The room can only take in 18, so please register early to avoid disappointments. Please e-mail your registrations to firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also get a complimentary assessment of your shape/ profile by logging on to http://www.psychogeometrics.com/onlinetest.php and key in CYDJ as coupon code to waive the charges of the assessment. The waiving of charges is valid until 15 Nov 2011.
Need a Keynote Speaker for your Annual Conference?
Whether you are holding a conference for your regional staff, resellers or even customers, we have the right speaker who can help you deliver the spirit of your conference, and effect positive changes to meet your goals.
The topics our speakers can speak on include:
Simply e-mail your requests to email@example.com or call +86-21-6219 0021 for enquiries. Sample video and audio recordings available upon requests.
Practical Tips for Managers:
Shirking (aka "I love you, but everyone else hates you")
By By Mark Murphy,
CEO of Leadership IQ
Shirking is one of the most destructive conversations a manager can
have with employees. What is shirking?
It’s a conversation in which a manager is SUPPOSED to give some
constructive feedback to an employee (you know, something like “your
performance is falling short in these areas, let’s discuss how to
improve it, etc.”). But instead, what the manager says is
“Listen, I think you’re doing great, but you know how
our executives are, and THEY think you really need to
If you would like to get more and better ideas how to get your managers be able to give direct and effective feedback, you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a mocha. All information shall be kept in confidence.
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Hence, Psyche-Selling TM would like to be known as the preferred choice of outstanding and remarkable clients, and pride ourselves as such. We will also be continuing to assist our clients achieve greater heights in 2009 and beyond.
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