Today’s post is by Noah Fleming, a globally recognized customer loyalty expert. He works with companies in a broad range of industries with revenues ranging from $5 million to $2 billion per year to create dramatic results. He is the author of the new book, The Customer Loyalty Loop, and the Amazon number one bestselling book in sales, marketing, and customer service categories, Evergreen: Cultivate the Enduring Customer Loyalty that Keeps Your Business Thriving.
I needed some work done at my house. I talked to ten contractors, and nine of them were awful. But the one who ended up getting the business…he was incredible. Let me tell you why – but here’s something to note: if he were in professional service sales, he would be making the company he was working for $5 million/year extra in a bad year.
So you might be wondering what made this buying experience so special?
Here are six key things I noticed.
- He returned my call promptly. This only happens 60 percent of the time with companies in the $100 million+ range and considerably less in other companies. I’ve been testing the response times from a variety of businesses in a variety of formats, and the speed of follow-up, for the most part, is horrendous.
I recall a story from Brad Stone’s fabulous book, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and The Amazon Age. During an executive meeting, Bezos asked a VP how long it took to get a live human on the phone. The VP said he was positive it was under a minute. Jeff said, “Really?” He picked up the phone, dialed on speaker phone and started timing. It took four minutes before a human got on the phone.
But let’s get back to my contractor.
- He showed up and was charming, knowledgeable, and helped me understand not just what was wrong, but what my three options were – and which one would be the best value. He was dressed well and his truck was clean cut.
- He offered me a variety of options and didn’t always just push for the most expensive. Instead, he asked me questions and helped me pick the one that made the most sense and offered the most value (the fact that it was the most expensive was a bonus for him). He didn’t use high-pressure sales tactics.
- While he was doing the work, he let me know about three other things he had noticed that were outside the scope of the work he was doing – and gave me recommendations on who could help me get those fixed.
He told me that, if I picked the people he had recommended, he’d get a bonus from them, I’d get a discount, and the work would be top notch (otherwise, he wouldn’t recommend them).
He did a great job. The work was completed as promised. He walked me through the finished work to show me exactly what had been done and thanked me for the opportunity to do the work for me.
He followed up with me three months later to thank me for doing business with him, to ensure the repair was still holding, and to ask me for a testimonial, which I happily gave.
This contractor had a sales process that blew away what I’ve seen in billion-dollar companies, and he had developed it himself – and, most importantly, he.
It amazed me.
Now I’ve worked with some incredibly talented people in some extremely successful companies, but I’ve had to fight tooth and nail to implement even SOME of these desperately needed changes into their sales cultures. But, when we do get them to execute even a fraction of what’s needed, the results are always dramatic.
Large companies often get stuck in internal politicking, inability to second guess some departments, or paralysis by analysis (I’ve talked about the cost of doing nothing before on my Website), in that they don’t know how to look objectively at the entire customer experience from initial contact to happily ever after.
You might be big. You might be small. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that this story serves as a great reminder to all of us that – whether you’re a giant or a one-man show – the basic structure of successful sales and marketing is all the same. In this case, the contractor understood the power of having a clearly defined sales process, a customer experience process, and both retention and referral processes in place, which he stuck to as he delivered a remarkable experience.
Look at your sales process and entire customer experience and ask yourself this one simple question: Is it as good as this contractor’s? If not, you’ve got some work to do.