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    How to interview sales people successfully

     

    Since the dawn of free trading only two things have ever mattered; producing a quality product or service and the ability to sell it successfully. By successfully, I mean ensuring that you achieve maximum profit from the sale, while the customer is delighted with their purchase. In most cases the Business owner understands what they need to produce, but more often that not rely on someone with sales skills to sell it. Would you know a good sales person from a bad one? While many company founders realize that they may not have the requisite sales skills, would they be able to recognize and hire someone who could sell? It is a recognised fact that four times as many business fail due to poor salesmanship, rather than poor products. Can you afford an other Sales person, based on the margins of what you intend to sell? Thus hiring the right people to sell for you is one of the most important decisions most companies will make. Unfortunately hiring is a bit like selling. First you must find prospects. These are the candidates that you will interview. To do this you must create a job spec. This will be your advert. How to create a sales job specification. Like marketing, this step must not be rushed. First understand exactly what you want the person to sell (Product Mix). Whom you wish them to sell to (territory) and how they should sell (Quota). You then need to ensure that you compensate them appropriately through a mix of base salary, Commission and Benefits. Assuming you arrived at your targets, using an appropriate mix of sales history and market research, you will need to do a similar exercise on the cost of the sales person. In other words, can you afford them, based on the margins of what you intend to sell. It is also imperative that you offering a competitive package, if you want to attract the right level of person. So now assuming you have advertised your position on the likes of salesjobs. ie or have advised an agency, what do you do next? You should partition the CVs that you get in, by sorting them into piles of “no” and “possibly”. You may have an agency doing this for you, or you might have a stab at it yourself. The First Interview – by Phone or in Person? The next step is to telephone interview the “possible” candidates. I would select about 10 candidates to interview by telephone. At Ѕ an hour each, it is 5 hours well spent. The purpose of this step is to whittle down the number of applicants, to no more than 4 per position to be filled. I have a telephone interview sheet, which I have refined after years of interviewing sales people, and it works pretty well for me. The key facts that you need to ascertain from the interview is as follows. - Does the person have a good telephone manner? - Did they research your company well? - Why they are leaving their current role, what their package expectations are? - Are they a strong performer as quantified by their results – how did they compare to their colleagues, how much money did they earn? - Will they be a good fit with your company and prospects? Do they understand what a good sales process is, and have they experience of using one? - Can they generate leads for themselves? This is a non-exhaustive sample, the key is to get score all of the answers they give – I do it from 1-5, and only when I have completed all of the telephone interviews, do I add up the scores and rank the candidates. You will be surprised how high your “gut feel” candidates rank. The reason behind this is that you used a repeatable process with all candidates. Does the P65 Really matter? When bringing the final candidates to your premises for final interview, you should ensure that they bring with them their last 3 years P65. This will verify their “sales figures” and earnings – it is amazing how few potential employers actually check this out. In addition you should also ask them to supply the details of two referees. I like when these referees are previous or existing customers. If you have not had professional help in interviewing up to now (the most cost effective is at the telephone interview stage), I would strongly recommend you get in someone who has been a sales manager who has hired and fired sales people in their career. There is an old saying that “It takes one to know one” – this basically says that sales managers can smell a rat a mile off that someone who has not had day to day contact with sales people might miss. On the final interview day, I would suggest that you have all the people come down on one or two days, and have them meet at least three of the following, as well as yourself; the business owner. - Some of who does marketing - An existing sales person, if you have one - Someone in Customer Support - Someone in Production (or a consultant if you are a service company) This way, all the people who could end up working with this new person will at least have a view. At the end of the day, you will have the final say, but it pays to hear other people’s opinions. Could luck, good hiring and most importantly good selling with great profit!

         
    How to keep a good employee look listen learn

     

    : Recently a client told me a wonderful story about how a change of attitude helped her to keep a valued employee. Angry and grumbling about one of the provisions in the company policy, the employee asked for a private meeting with my client, the owner of a small sales company, and began to tell her in direct terms what was wrong. The client couldn't hear anything the employee was saying because she was too busy planning her own rebuttal strategy. It was important to let the employee know that the policy was a good one. On the other hand, she didn't want to lose her top sales agent. Physically, she could feel her body clenching and mentally, she was preoccupied with what she should say. She Who Speaks First Loses Fortunately, she remembered an old adage from her own sales days: when you are negotiating to close the sale and you've asked for the order, it is almost always true that "the person who speaks first loses." The client thought about this, took a deep breath, and listened instead. Almost immediately she felt the physical tension drain away, and found she was really listening for the first time since the employee had started talking. Seek First To Understand In Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, one of the most well known of the habits - and perhaps most difficult to achieve in difficult moments - is the 5th Habit: Seek First to Understand, Then To Be Understood. My client began to ask questions to find out more of what lay behind the outburst. She became curious, wanting to know as much as she could about her employee's point of view. She grew increasingly interested, and soon it became fun to learn how the policy appeared to this person. The more she listened, the more she could see the situation through other eyes. As she sought clarity, she began to regain her own equilibrium and power. She saw that she could acknowledge and build on her employee's thoughts and at the same time speak what was true from her perspective as the company's leader. Hard on the Problem, Soft on the People She heard not only the employee's words but also what motivated the message - the employee was concerned about fairness, clarity of communication, and the reputation of the company. So was she. It seemed that they were on the same side of wanting what was best for all. From this common ground, the client explained her own view of how the company policy supported clarity, fairness, and company vision, and specifically how adhering to it might support the employee in the long run. She was able to stay open to some positive suggestions for change and, in the end, to reassert her role as leader and mentor. The company owner helped to position the problem as something they could work on and solve together, and the conflict became an opportunity to reinforce their relationship and their ability to handle future challenges. Morihei Ueshiba, 20th century martial artist, philosopher, and founder of aikido, is quoted as saying: "Opponents confront us continually, but actually there is no opponent there." It is fascinating, rewarding, and an exercise in a different kind of power, when we can turn our opponents into allies. It is one thing to think we are listening, quite another to actually do it – to imagine ourselves in the place of the person we are listening to, and to position the issue so that it can be worked on as a mutual problem-solving endeavor. Try it. You will discover that when you have security in your own power, you will be able to step away from it temporarily and discover something even better.

         
    How to lose friends and make enemies

     

    Over the past few years an epidemic of rudeness has swept America. Here's how to perpetuate the disease. 1) Ignore people. Don't return phone calls. Never answer the phone. Don't listen when people talk to you. Talk on your cell phone when with others, especially in restaurants or other public places. Don't acknowledge that others exist. The greatest insult that you can give someone is to ignore the person. If you excel at this skill you can skip the next four paragraphs. 2) Show disrespect. Make fun of others. Assign stupid nicknames or deliberately mispronounce names. Make people wait for you. Laugh at other people's mistakes, struggles, and fears. Use sarcasm and cynicism freely. Treat people like idiots. Disrespect is powerful because it strips people of their dignity. 3) Criticize. Find fault in everything. Spread gossipplain about anything and everything. Remind people about mistakes they made, even if decades ago. If possible, embellish your complaints with exaggerated descriptions of failure. Keep a written log of faults, flaws, and fumbles so you can grind on them daily. Develop a whining tone to your voice. Critics reduce everything to dirt. 4) Be negative. Master pessimism. Attack every change or new idea. Always focus on failure. Expect the worst to happen. Never accept or approve anything. Refuse to participate or cooperate in any endeavor. If something appears to work despite your efforts, cause delays so you can prepare fresh arguments against it. Aggressive gloom creates perpetual hopelessness. 5) Get mad. Throw tantrums. Scream. Yell. Shout. Slam doors. Hit walls. Throw things. Act violent. Use accusations, insults, and threats to disrupt conversations. Tolerate nothing. Insist on retribution. Always attack first. Blame your anger on others. Unpredictable, insane behavior keeps other people off balance. Caution: Application of these tactics guarantees that the need for attorneys will increase.

         
    How to make changes in your healthcare organization

     

    For many of us change is a difficult process. In organizations like healthcare it seems to advance at a snail’s pace sometimes. There is a need for change in healthcare, most agree, though we would be hard pressed to agree upon the changes needed. One incentive for change is pay-for-performance programs now beginning in several areas. I would like to describe a couple that affect primary care physicians and then give a few suggestions as to how to adopt changes to take advantage of these programs. Even if you are not in a primary care physician program, the methods suggested for change will be helpful, I believe. In 2006 Medicare plans to institute a pay-for-performance program at the primary care physician level. Right now a model is being tested and seems to be doing quite well. In several states Blue Cross Blue Shield organizations are testing pay-for - performance programs. Here in West Michigan, Priority Health, a healthcare insurer, has promoted such a program for over five years. How does this work, you may ask? Priority Health, for example, funds the program for each of its patients a set amount. Doctors who meet a requirement of the program for a patient are rewarded with extra money for that patient. Hence, with many patients the income for the practice can be boosted considerably. The fact is that many are not rising to the opportunity. With planned cuts in Medicare reimbursements over the next few years, this source of income cannot be ignored! Healthcare programs need to change, no matter how difficult. The impetus for change should rest with the leadership of an organization, although the change should not be the sole responsibility of the leaders. Representatives from all parts of the organization should be involved. Once the need for change in a process is agreed upon, either because of extra revenue from pay-for-performance programs or other agents or data that positively affect the bottom line, leaders should convene a task force to plan the change. With input from all, leaders should map the process as it currently exits and then should make a new map of how they would like it to be to incorporate the positive changes. The new procedure should be standardized for all to adopt. How do you go about adopting these changes on a daily basis? This is probably the hardest part. Because humans learn in a variety of ways, it will take a variety of ways to implement the changes. The implementation of the changes should be based upon the learning styles of the individuals involved. Let me provide an example using the Medicare program. A patient who enters the Medicare program is entitled to a paid initial physical. A primary care physician should take advantage of this. Many don’t. If I were the manager of such an office, I would remind my staff who set up appointments to be aware of this fact. I would remind them at regular staff meetings. I would post visible reminders in the office. I might even have a message flashed on the computer screen once in a while. Then I would review the appointments of patients who have become Medicare qualified and see how many had their initial physical or were booked for it. I would adjust my methods to remind staff of the need for such examinations and continue to improve on this until the office achieves 100% compliance with the goal. Booking the exam is not the only needed change. Doctors who perform the physical must accomplish examination details and actions laid out by Medicare. Hence, to be paid for the exam, each doctor must adhere to the exam details. I would help the doctors accomplish this in a variety of ways, depending on the doctor’s learning style. For example, a checklist of the exam details might be included in the patient history folder when the exam is performed. That way the doctor will not miss any steps. As the leader of the change, I would check with billing to see that all the steps were performed and adapt new approaches or reinforce existing ones to see that the changes are accomplished 100% of the time. Changes such as these should be a part of a continuous quality improvement program at every healthcare provider organization. Let me quickly review the most important steps. First leaders should identify the changes needed. Then, the leaders should convene a committee of all affected staff to develop how to accomplish the change. Once the staff agrees upon the approach, the leaders should develop ways to implement the change on a daily basis adopting methods that incorporate learning styles of affected individuals. Then, they should continually analyze the progress of the changes and make necessary adjustments until the goals are accomplished. They should then audit the changes occasionally to be sure that the organization doesn’t fall back into old habits. I believe that adopting such a change process will dramatically help at your site. You will see savings in time, increased patient or client health and satisfaction, as well as an improved bottom line!

         
    How to make friends and avoid enemies

     

    Over the past few years an epidemic of rudeness has swept America. Here's how to stop the disease. 1) Acknowledge people. Answer the phone. Return phone calls. Listen carefully when people talk to you. Be an active participant in conversations. Never use your cell phone when with others, especially in restaurants or other public places. Remember: acknowledgment satisfies a basic human need. 2) Show respect. Use people’s names when talking to them. Never invent nicknames or make fun of people’s names. Be on time. Treat people as if they were smarter than you. Let others speak first. Remember: respect is powerful because it gives people dignity. 3) Compliment. Seek the good in everything. Avoid gossip and people who gossip. Remind people about successes they had, even if decades ago. Focus on what works and what went well. Remember: warmth, attracts people. 4) Be positive. Master optimism. Accept change and new ideas. Always focus on success. Expect the best to happen. Think in terms of the future and how you can make it better. Use positive (or at least neutral) words. Remember: leaders sell hope. 5) Be mature. Manage your emotions. Speak softly. Seek solutions. Let other people do well. Let people tell you things that you know. Let other people win. Share information. Remember: mature behavior creates trust.

         
    3 Lessons about meetings from the forest

     

    Here are three lessons about meetings that came from a walk through the forest. 1) Giant Sequoias These marvelous trees are a living example that some things take time. True, we need to work with a sense of urgency. We need to do more with less. We need to move faster than the speed of chaos. And we also need to be appropriate. Rushing through some issues can produce false solutions. For example, a group slams together an annual plan, only to find that the plan ignores real market conditions, organizational limitations, and individual support. The result is a document that no one uses. For example, a powerful group makes a decision without listening to other people's ideas. And then a bad situation becomes worse. In fact, sometimes the neglected side retaliates with such force that the original group loses status. Better: Take time to make sure that all considerations are included in plans and decisions. If you are planning a meeting to resolve a major issues, hire a skilled facilitator to help you obtain a result that lasts. 2) A Bear Cub This cub behaved like a goofy toddler while mama bear went about her business collecting groceries in a supermarket. The cub climbed on logs, fell off rocks, and dropped things on mama. And during all of this play, mama bear just kept working, munching plants, gathering nourishment. That is, she kept eating until the cub ran toward me. Then mama bear looked up, growled, and chased after the cub. (I'll assume that's what she did, because I ran away when Mama Bear growled.) What's the point? Sometimes we need to allow an appropriate amount of disorder because it's part of growth. It's part of letting people explore. It's part of letting people be themselves. Of course, when threats appear, then we should take charge. And we may only need to growl to restore order. 3) Mustang Clover In the spring, the Sierra Nevada mountains are covered with patches of Mustang Clover. These small flowers (typically, less than half an inch across) look like simple small pink dots as you walk past them. But if you pause and look closely, you will discover a masterpiece of complex beauty. The point: Are you pausing to notice important details? Some may be merely enjoyable reminders of how wonderful life can be. Others may be essential indicators about the health of your business. By the way, you can view photos of a Giant Sequoia, a bear cub, and a Mustang Clover at: stevekaye/photos. htm

         
    3 Myths that ruin meetings

     

    These myths have cost companies billions of dollars in wasted payroll money. Myth #1) Structure spoils spontaneity. I once attended a two-day long disaster that easily cost over $40,000. Thirty people spent the first hour seeking an issue to discuss, then spent the next 15 hours arguing over insolvable problems. When I asked the manager who called the meeting, "Where's the agenda?" the reply was, "I didn't want to spoil the spontaneity by imposing a structure." Reality: If spontaneity were a universally sound business practice we would build buildings without blueprints. Of course, no smart business leader works without a plan. The Fix: Set a goal and then prepare an agenda. Ideally, this agenda should be so clear, complete, and specific that someone else could use it to lead the meeting to obtain the accomplish the goal. Myth #2: Since it's my meeting I should do all the talking. Some meetings are run like a medieval court. The chairperson sits on a verbal throne while the subjects sit in respectful silence. The big talker justifies this by thinking: if the other people in the meeting knew anything worthwhile, they'd be leading the meeting. Reality: If you're the only one talking, you're working too hard. In addition, realize that most people protect themselves from extended monologues by sending their thoughts off on a holiday. That is, no one is paying attention to you: they're busy daydreaming, doodling, or dreaming. The Fix: Convey large amounts of information by a memo or email. Then call a meeting based on participant driven activities that test or reinforce comprehension. Myth #3: Meetings are free. Most meetings are paid for with soft money. That is, it's money that has already been spent for wages. In addition, no purchase request is necessary. No budget needs to be approved. All someone has to do is call a meeting. Reality: Meetings are very expensive. They use people's time, and payroll is the largest part of running a business. When people hold bad meetings, they waste the most important resource in a business - the time people that spend working to earn a profit for the company. The Fix: Design meetings to earn a profit. After all, a meeting is a business activity, not a company picnic. Learn more about Effective Meetings at: squidoo/OneGreatMeeting/

         
    3 Opportunities to help you make an extra income online

     

    I have been in exactly the same position, for years I have been searching the internet for ways to earn an extra income, not to make me a millionaire over night but just to make enough to help with the bills or to have some extra cash in my pocket for the little luxuries in life. With so many sites trying to take your money it is not easy to wade through the scam sites and the legitimate opportunities. What as well if you don’t have any idea in what is a good product and will make money and what is a bad product that will just drain your resources? Over the years I have tried so many of the so called opportunities and been burnt financially. I now believe that I have found the 3 best opportunities available that require a little bit of thinking and time but can give you great rewards once you follow the proven system. Remember you don’t get anything in life for nothing! This is a golden rule to remember, no matter what you do it is important that you need to work at it, how much you work at it can depend on how much you get out of it, not only in a financial sense but also on a personal level. The best products are ones that can make you an ongoing cash flow, ones that have longevity and have entered a market place where there is a niche. It is no good trying to sell something online where the market is already swamped with goods, this will just lead to your product being another one of hundreds without a customer in sight. This is where the research and the years of hard work have been put in to provide the best products available and you can be a part of this. The website gives you an overview of the 3 best finds on the internet and gives you the opportunity to make some extra money with a small amount of effort. Remember my golden rule, the more effort you put in the more you will get out. To find out more about these opportunities then go to toponlinebusinesses The website breaks down the best 3 opportunities and gives an overview of what is on offer, take a look today, the sooner you take a look the sooner you can get started and build a brighter future.

         
    3 Steps to stop absence and make people happy at work

     

    If you're an employer or a manager then work place absence is costing you money, inconvenience, and upsetting your customers. And as we all know, not all days taken off work are due to genuine sickness. Many employees "take a sickie" because their morale is low and they just don't like or can't do their work. The challenge for employers and managers is to make people happier at work. And if people are happy at work then they are less likely to take a day off every time they wake up with a stuffy nose. Some bosses think that paying more money, improving job security or working conditions is the answer. It isn't and it's also something that can be very hard to achieve. People who employ or supervise other people need to become more tuned to their employees' emotional needs and find out what really motivates them. This is also much easier to achieve than paying more money or improving job security, however there is no quick fix. To reduce the amount of absence there are three steps you need to consider. Firstly, pick the right person for the job. You need to get better at interviewing and selecting people. Take more time over it;pay more attention to the applicant's human side rather than their qualifications or experience. Get to know them better. Find out what makes them happy, how well they get on with other people and how much energy and enthusiasm they have. Make sure they know what they're getting into and be sure the job suits them. Secondly, you need to believe in your people. If you've interviewed well and picked the right person for the job then you need to trust them to do that job. You need to constantly demonstrate to your people that you trust and believe in them by what you say, your tone of voice and your body language. If you believe that your people are not to be trusted, that they're unable to make a decision without checking with you. That they'll turn up late and go home early, then that's exactly what they'll do. If on the other hand you believe that they'll do their job well, that they can be trusted to make decisions and they'll give you a fair day's work, then it is more likely this is what you'll get. As with all theories there is no guarantee that it will work every time, however the majority of employees are reasonable people and if you treat them as such then they are more likely to behave in a positive manner. The third and probably the most important thing you can do to reduce abscence and motivate your people is to give them feedback and coach them. This is where so many employers and managers fall down in dealing with their people; they're hopeless at giving feedback. Many managers are uncomfortable telling staff how they feel about their work performance. Most employees want to know how they are performing in their job; they want to know if they are doing it right or how they could do it better. If you really want to motivate your people then you need to give them feedback on what they're doing well and what needs improvement. When you notice an employee doing something you do like, tell them about it. When you notice something you don't like, tell them about it. Do it as soon as possible. Acknowledging a job well done is not much good six months later. Also, if you don't immediately call someone's attention to something you're not happy about, then they'll assume its okay. Either that or they'll think you didn't notice or you don't care. Do it in private. Why is it some managers still feel its okay to reprimand someone in front of their colleagues? Even the mildest rebuke can have a negative effect on morale. When you do speak to the person use "I" messages. Say things like "I liked the way you did that" or "I'm unhappy with the way your reports are always late and I'd like your views on why this is." Avoid "You" messages such as "You're doing great." That can come across as patronising or insincere. "You're doing that all wrong" may cause conflict, lower morale and may not sort the problem. Focus on one or two things. Don't run off a whole list of attributes or misdemeanours. Also be specific about job behaviour, focus on what the person did or didn't do, don't make a personal attack. Employees will feel happier if they perceive their employer or manager as a reasonable and fair individual - someone who is quick to praise but also says when they're not happy about something. The message is - if you want motivated staff then make their work interesting, give them feedback and give them the feeling that they're involved in the business. We can make the job more interesting by giving people more responsibility, assigning projects and by training and developing them. We need to regularly give people feedback on how they're doing; focussing on what they're doing well rather than on what is not so good. To meet their need to feel involved we should regularly communicate both formally and informally. We could also involve staff in meetings they might not normally attend. These steps will take time and thought however they'll make a huge difference as to how employees feel about their work. If they feel good and gain satisfaction from their work then they're less likely to find a reason to "take a sickie".

         
    3 Ways to protect your customers

     

    Customer security is one of the prime considerations of any retail outlet today. Whilst implementing key marketing strategies in order to promote products and increase sales, retail managers also need to be thinking about how safe their customers feel in-store and ways they can improve the attractiveness of their space for shoppers. Lighting Good lighting is a key aspect of the customer experience. Stores require lighting that allows customers to see what they are doing and to ensure that no area of the shop is dimly lit or dark, as this is where thefts or attacks could occur. This is particularly important in fitting room areas and in toilet and baby-change facilities where customers are out of the general flow of the shop and there is a reduced staff presence. CCTV systems Customers are comforted by the presence of CCTV systems in retail stores. They know that these systems are designed to prevent crime and automatically feel safer in an environment where cameras provide a deterrent to would-be criminals. A CCTV system also often means at least one member of staff dedicated to security and this also makes customers feel more at ease. Space The retail environment is one that’s constantly under threat from petty crime – from shoplifting items to pick-pocketing customers. This type of crime is easier to commit in small, crowded shops, where people are more tightly packed into a space and it is difficult for staff, security cameras or general shoppers to see what is going on. It’s easy for people to put goods in their bags without paying for them or to steal a handbag and be out of the shop before anyone’s realised. A key way to defeat this type of crime is by arranging your goods so that there’s more space in the store. This makes it immediately more obvious if someone is acting suspiciously, and customers are more likely to be aware if someone is too close to them or demonstrating threatening behaviour. There are various other ways that you can make your customers feel safe, but lighting, space and visible CCTV security go a long way to reassuring customers that they are shopping in a safe environment. The safer and more confident your customers feel, the more likely they are to spend money in your store.

         
    3 Worst mistakes people make in a presentation

     

    Truly memorable disasters don’t just happen. They require a special blend of misunderstanding and misguided effort. Here are three ways to guarantee a disaster in your next presentation, and how to avoid them. Mistake #1: Believe in Magic Show up hoping that a coherent, eloquent, useful presentation will magically appear once you start speaking. Avoid any type of preparation. Just wing it. > What Happens Everyone is amazed by the presentation because they expected more. They are also bored and disappointed. They may even become upset because an unprepared presentation insults the audience by wasting their time. Unprepared presentations sound like, well, unprepared presentations. > Instead Prepare. Identify the goal for your talk. Design a presentation that achieves that goal. Talk with key members of the audience about their expectations. Rehearse. Mistake #2: Memorize your speech Spend untold hours committing every precious word to memory so that you can recite it even if awakened in the middle of the night. > What Happens You sound like a machine. And if you stumble on a word, you can become stuck--speechless. I've seen this happen, and it's painful. > Instead Learn your presentation. Yes, write a script. Memorize the first and last sentences and then practice giving the presentation without looking at the script. Practice many times. Eventually, you will learn how to convey the key ideas in a natural, normal way. Mistake #3: Talk About Yourself Focus entirely on yourself. Tell about your background, your credentials, and your history. Tell your story. Just talk about yourself. Make the presentation all about you, yourself, and your life. > What Happens They listen politely. If you manage to be entertaining enough, they may actually pay attention. Otherwise, the audience reacts by thinking, "So what?" > Instead Talk about the audience. That is, talk about what they need and how they can achieve it.

         
    4 Better ways to handle complaints

     

    : If you WOW a customer at the Moment of Truth , the average customer will walk away and tell 5 people about the experience. If you fail to meet the customer's expectations at the Moment of Truth , customers are very likely to tell 11 people about the problem they had with your company. If you drop the ball with customers at the Moment of Truth , but rebound with a quick customer recovery, research shows that the customer will tell up to 17 people about your service recovery. Did you get that? Customers will tell 5 people if you WOW them, BUT if there's a problem and you quickly fix it, they will tell more than 3 times as many people as they would if no problem had occurred at all. One of the fastest and easiest ways to grow your bottom line is to equip your front line employees with skills to respond to complaints and problems in such a way that they completely regain goodwill and restore the customer's confidence. Read on to find out exactly how to do this. 1. Resolve problems as quickly as possible. The faster the resolution, the better the chances for maintaining loyalty. TARP, Inc. found that ninety-five percent of complaining customers would remain loyal if their complaint was resolved on the first contact. That number dropped to seventy percent when the complaint was not immediately resolved. In fact, the speed of resolution has a greater impact on future loyalty than the resolution itself.

    Strive to resolve complaints on the first contact and when that isn't possible, final resolution should occur within 5 - 10 business days in order to maintain and build loyalty. 2. Give Them Something. Coupons, product samples, and other freebies have a definite impact on loyalty after a service failure has occurred. Years ago American Airlines gave me 7000 frequent flyer miles after I experienced a gruesome delay.

    And that gift of miles, was enough to make me come back. But don't take my word for it: A study conducted for the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals (SOCAP) found that 58% of complaining consumers who received something in the mail following their contact with consumer affairs departments were delighted, versus only 40% of those who did not receive anything. Giving customers token items, such as coupons or product samples, after a service failure both increases the perception of value and serves to maintain loyalty. 3. Only allow the friendliest, most helpful, and diplomatic employees to talk to customers. Employee courtesy and attitude are critical factors in regaining the goodwill of customers who have experienced a problem. Customers contacting a company with a problem want to talk to a person who is courteous, professional sympathetic and understanding.

    Additionally, employees must be skilled in communicating with diplomacy, expressing empathy, and representing the company credibly and convincingly during times of consumer distress. The attitudes and behaviors of frontline professionals form powerful lasting impressions with customers whether these impressions are positive or negative. 4. Encourage your people to "Be Gumby". You remember Gumby don't you---the green rubbery figure that Eddie Murphy portrayed so hilariously on Saturday Night Live?

    In my seminars I teach employees to "Be Gumby" when it comes to dealing with customers. By being Gumby, I mean do whatever it takes to service customers. This includes being flexible, bending over backwards, making a 180 degree turn when you were heading another direction on a non customer-impacting task. It might even mean standing on your head.

    The idea is to be completely customer focused. Being Gumby guarantees you'll always make customers happy.

         
    4 Tips to ensure a rewarding experience when hiring others

     

    Hiring an employee can be a big step for many small business owners. It means the end of doing EVERYTHING yourself and passing off some of the work! In order to make the experience rewarding for both you and your employees there are a few things that every boss and leader should do… 1) Reward people for a job well done. Its frustrating working for someone who enjoys all the financial rewards of the efforts put forth by the entire team, especially if they don't recognize what everyone has accomplished and contributed. It doesn't take much to acknowledge the effort of your staff. It makes a HUGE difference in the working atmosphere when you take a few moments to acknowledge your team. People like to know that they've done a good job. 2) Always provide a balance between positive and negative comments. Your job as a leader is to recognize the talents of those around you and feed them with the motivation and positive energy to take YOUR ideas to entirely new levels. Help them serve you better by building up their confidence... not tearing it down. 3) Step up and accept responsibility for your projects. At the end of the day if things don't go according to plan, in my opinion, the responsibility falls onto the leader's shoulders. Stand up and accept the responsibility should anything ever go wrong. If your staff always bear the burden of projects gone bad, it will drag people down and destroy your working environment. Start contributing to the emotional bank account of those around you. If you acknowledge the behavior you want to see more of, you'll start seeing more of it. Be positive and accept some responsibility when things don't go according to plan. 4) When you have good people it's your responsibility as a leader to hold on to them. People with talent will take your company to entirely new levels but if they keep leaving, the growth of your company will be stinted. People with skills know that they have options. Hanging the carrot of a potential big pay day will only work for a certain period of time. After a while it wears off and they start looking elsewhere. The last thing you want is for them to end up with your competition. So the moral of the story is find good people, train them, treat them well, and your business will take off.

         
    5 Action ideas to deal with difficult people

     

    When was the last time you had to deal with a difficult customer? It was probably and external customer but perhaps it was an internal customer, such as a member of your team, a colleague or even - your boss! I'm sure that you always want to provide exceptional service to both your internal and external customers. However, in the real world, things go wrong and mistakes are made. These "customers" will often judge your level of service based on how you respond to a mistake. Do it well and they'll probably forgive you and possibly even say positive things about your business or your abilities to other people. The important thing to realise when dealing with an upset customer, be they internal or external, is that you must - deal with their feelings, then deal with their problem. Upset customers are liable to have strong feelings when you, your product or service lets them down and they'll probably want to "dump" these feeling on you. You don't deal with their feelings by concentrating on solving the problem, it takes more. Here are 5 action ideas that deal with the customers' human needs: 1 - Don't let them get to you - Stay out of it emotionally and concentrate on listening non-defensively and actively. Customers may make disparaging and emotional remarks - don't rise to the bait. 2 - Listen - listen - listen - Look and sound like your listening. The customer wants to know that you care and that you're interested in their problem. 3 - Stop saying sorry - Sorry is an overused word, everyone says it when something goes wrong and it's lost its value. How often have you heard - "Sorry 'bout that, give me the details and I'll sort this out for you". Far better to say "I apologise for ......" And if you really need to use the sorry word, make sure to include it as part of a full sentence. "I'm sorry you haven't received that information as promised Mr Smith". (It's also good practise to use the customers name in a difficult situation). 4 - Empathise - Using empathy is an effective way to deal with the customers feelings. Empathy isn't about agreement, only acceptance of what the customer is saying and feeling. Basically the message is - "I understand how you feel". Obviously this has to be a genuine response, the customer will realise if you're insincere and they'll feel patronised. Examples of empathy responses would be - "I can understand that you're angry", or "I see what you mean". Again, these responses need to be genuine. 5 - Build rapport - Sometimes it's useful to add another phrase to the empathy response, including yourself in the picture. - "I can understand how you feel, I don't like it either when I'm kept waiting". This has the effect of getting on the customer's side and builds rapport. Some customer service people get concerned with this response as they believe it'll lead to - "Why don't you do something about it then". The majority of people won't respond this way if they realise that you're a reasonable and caring person. If they do, then continue empathising and tell the customer what you'll do about the situation. "I'll report this to my manager" or "I'll do my best to ensure it doesn't happen in the future". Make no mistake about it; customers, be they internal or external, are primarily driven by their emotions. It's therefore important to use human responses in any interaction particularly when a customer is upset or angry. If customers like you and feel that you care, then they're more likely to accept what you say and forgive your mistakes.

         
    5 Great reasons to hire a telecommuter

     

    How would you like to hire someone that is more motivated and more qualified to do the work and costs you less than your average employee? No, I am not talking about hiring someone illegally. You can accomplish this simply by employing a telecommuter. Let’s take a look at 5 very good reasons, why it makes sense for you to consider telecommuting from an employer’s perspective. 1) Less Overhead How much is all this office space, furniture, computer equipment along with your IT department to maintain them, utility bills etc. costing you? Telecommuters do not require any of the above, which will cut your overhead cost tremendously. Telecommuters use their own office, their own equipment from computers to paperclips; use their own power, phone and Internet connection. If their computer acts up, it’s up to them to get it up and running again. 2) Less Benefits To Pay Most telecommuters are independent contractors. You do not have to provide for health care, workman’s compensation or paid vacation. Consider the tax benefits as well; there is no employer portion of federal and state tax to pay. 3) Hire Experts When Needed Do you need someone to write the occasional press release and maybe come up with a revision to your brochure every once in a while? Instead of hiring someone fulltime as your marketing person, consider outsourcing the tasks to a freelance telecommuter. You will pay per project, or hire your freelancer for a few hours per month, instead of creating a marketing position. Freelancers give even small businesses the opportunity to hire an expert for almost any task. 4) On Demand Work Do you expect a temporary increase in your workload, be it seasonal, or because you just landed a large project? Why not pick up a few telecommuters for the task instead of working with inexperienced temps, or hiring in-office personnel that you may not need three months down the road. Telecommuters combine the flexibility of temps with the on-the-job experience of permanent employees. You get the best of both worlds. 5) More Motivated Workers Telecommuters have a very good reason why they want to work from home. Whether that reason is being able to stay home with the kids, a disability, or avoiding a long commute, being able to work from home makes them happy. As you well know, happy employees are more motivated, don’t count the minutes until they can leave the office and overall get more work done. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to give telecommuter a try the next time you need a highly motivated, experienced worker, but aren’t in a position to create a permanent onsite position. Once you have experienced all the benefits a telecommuter brings to your organization, you may even consider converting even more positions to telecommuting.

         
     
         
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