Summer’s over. Back to school. Boy, there are some memories: high school; college; subjects you loved, subjects you hated; teachers you loved, teachers you hated.
The question is: What did you learn in school? What lessons are you still using?
I have 2.5 major, early and later school-learned lessons I am grateful for:
1. Grammar from 9th and 10th grade is the basis of my writing and communication. In today’s world, misuse of the words they’re, their, your and you’re create lasting (bad) first impressions.
2. In college (Temple University, 1964), my modern European history professor said, “It’s not the date of what happened that matters. It’s what happened in response to the date (events, outcomes) that creates history.”
2.5 Later in life, I came to the realization that algebra was not about math; it was about learning how to solve problems logically. I wish my algebra teacher could have put it that way when I started.
And how about sales and business? What lessons have you learned? What lessons are you still using?
I have 2.5 major, early sales lessons for which I am grateful:
1. Questions control conversations. The person that’s asking is in control.
2. Relax, find common ground and be friendly with the prospect before you start the sales conversation.
2.5 Find out why they want to buy before you start to sell.
Here are 11.5 lessons you can use to start this school year off with a bang — and a bunch of sales:
1. Study your (or your company’s) last 100 sales. The history of where the last 100 sales came from will predict and help you complete your next 100 sales.
2. Videotape the buying motives of your top 10 customers. Call your top 10 customers and meet with them for a short, casual conversation about why they buy from you. Video the conversation.
3. Meet one customer a day for morning coffee. Just talk personally. In a year this will give you the personal insight of 250 customers.
4. Study service issues. Find out what issues customers have. Study how (and how fast) they were resolved.
5. Study backorders. Why did the backorder occur? How was it dealt with? How was it resolved?
6. Talk to users, not just buyers. Go to your customers and talk to the people that use your product or service. Find out what they love and what’s missing. Video the interviews.
Secret: Get purchasing people to be at the meeting with the people that use your product, so they can understand the difference between price, productivity, value and profit.
7. Talk to your loyal customers who don’t buy price. Find out the true non-price buying motive(s) for dealing with you.
8. Get involved on a deeper, hands-on level. Make a few deliveries yourself. Take a few service calls yourself. Work in accounting for a day. Find out what’s really happening with and to your customers.
9. Get short meetings with executives. Talk about the issues they value the most — loyalty, productivity, morale and profit. Maybe ask a question or two about their vision or leadership philosophy, and then leave.
Do not ask for business. Just make an impression. Idea: Create a blog around executive leadership philosophies.
10. Start your own value messaging in social media. Post your ideas and thoughts on all social media outlets. Then email the links to all your customers and prospects so they can follow you.
11. Post customer testimonials on YouTube. Then email and tweet the links to all your customers and prospects.
11.5 Create a customer “reasons” book. List all the reasons why they buy, say no, stay loyal, or leave you. As you write, answers and actions will become evident.
Key point of understanding: The lessons you have learned from your history of doing business with customers is very valuable, but not as valuable as your customer’s history of doing business with you. A subtle but powerful difference. Both are valuable, but your customer’s input from their perspective can teach you how to achieve and maintain loyalty.
Key to implementation: Re-construct your sales presentation around customer’s responses and perceived values.
Winning new business: Where is your new business coming from? The best way to find new business is to talk to old business, learn the lessons and refine your practices and presentation to be in harmony with their needs and expectations.
Those are lessons you can learn from and earn from.
Jeffrey Gitomer’s website, gitomer.com, has information about training and seminars, or email him personally at email@example.com.