How to Handle the Objection: “call me after the holidays”

The holiday season is upon us. Everyone is in holiday shopping mode from Black Friday, Cyber Monday and many other things. Also, everyone is thinking about going to parties. So the last thing on your customers and prospects mind is to make a year-end purchase; unless they receive a year-end tax advantage. As a sales rep, you are under pressure to close deals so you can earn that bonus.  Unless your customer is in a buying mood, you are going to hear the objection “call me after the holidays”. If you have done business with this customer, you will have an easier time than if you are making a cold call.

In prior articles, I have written how to get prospects and customers to buy. However, today’s focus is getting around the customers or prospects objection “call me after the holidays”. You have to attempt to get around this objection. If your offer is time sensitive or if you can provide a break on pricing or payment through a special promotion for example no payments for 3 months; make your customer aware of them. However, at this time of the year, you will get customers and prospects who just don’t want to deal with you and your offering.  As a sales rep, it is your job to be able to tell if the customer and prospect is telling you the truth. In other words, you need to qualify their objections.  This means following up with every customer and prospect even when things look bleak. 

Should your customers and prospects insist that call you them after the holidays, I would find out which holiday they mean. Next, I would pin them down to a specific day and time to call back. I recommend sending your customers and prospects a holiday card with a little note reminding them about the appointment; stating how you look forward to speaking with them on the specific date and time. Once this time comes, I would hold them to their promise. Deliver your presentation and ask for the business.

This is how to deal with the objection “call me after the holidays”.Image

Why you Should Reward your Customer’s for Providing Referrals and Testimonials

The easiest way to make sales is to earn referrals and testimonials from your customer’s.  Customers are usually delighted to provide referrals and testimonials for companies and products that work. That being said, you need to show your appreciation to your customer’s who put their name and reputation on the line for you.  If you want your customer’s to keep doing this for you, make sure you show your appreciation. How you show this appreciation could take many forms. You could bring them baked goods or take them out to dinner. Taking them to a sporting event or concert of their choice is a great way to build your relationship. Remember to do a good job for your new customer!

Another thing you could do is to show appreciation is to provide customers a coupon for 15 percent off any item that you sell once their referral has been converted to a sale. I would also provide a thank you note with the coupon. Also, I would develop a point and reward system that encourages your customers to provide you with more referrals. Credit card companies use a rewards and points system when customers make purchases. This can be a model you can copy and implement; depending on your budget. Gift-cards can also be an option.

Remember, word of mouth marketing is a great tool to earn new business. Taking the time to say thank you is well worth the time and effort. Your customer’s have more weight with your prospects than you do! Let your customers help you earn new business. Your existing customer’s are one best sources of new business.

This is why you should reward your customer’s for providing referrals and testimonials.

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How to Deal with Difficult Customers

In sales, we all have to deal with difficult customers. Today, I am going discuss how to deal with difficult customers. In a previous post, I discussed how to get customers to pay on time. Before I can discuss how to handle difficult customers, the situation needs to be put in context. In other words, why were the customers being difficult? Were they being difficult because you screwed up their order or service call? Are they just miserable people? Does the customer constantly cancel their orders? What kind of relationship do you have with this customer? How important is your customer to your bottom line or monthly quota.

Now I know that the first thing you want to do with a nasty customer is to tell them off and fire them. My answer is to resist this urge. You need to remain calm in order to figure out what is causing the customers hostility. If the customer is being hostile because you and your company screwed up, take responsibility and fix the situation. I always did this during my time in outside sales.  If you have a customer who constantly wastes your time having you order items only to cancel these orders, I suggest having a discussion with the customer to try and settle the issue at hand. If this goes nowhere then fire the customer! (Provided they do a small amount of business with you.)

Should you have a customer that is nasty who has a long standing relationship with the company, with you and is crucial to you bottom line/ making your sales quota, I suggest that you suck it up and find a way to keep this customer happy. You do not want to cut your nose to spite you face.

Handling collections can also create difficulty between you and your customer. However, this does not have to be the case. Customers will usually not pay an invoice because of the following reasons: the product you sold them did not work, they lost their invoice, they are having cash flow problems, or the sales rep was too lazy to follow up with the customers. If the product you sold them does not work, fix the issue immediately. If the customer lost their invoice, provide them with another copy and follow up. If the customer is having cash flow problems work out a payment plan. If you are the sales rep follow up. If you’re the sales manager, lean on the rep. Remember to be respectful to the customer. It is important to keep in mind that you want to sell this customer items in the future; not just collect a debt. (I discuss getting customers to pay on time in a previous post.)

Many difficult customers can be managed with great customer service and follow through. However, some cannot be dealt with and need to be fired. Firing customers should be a last resort.

How to Earn Customer Referrals and Testimonials

Once you have made a sale to a customer, it is important to follow-up with a customer. As a Sales person it is important to deliver on the promises you make to customers. This means checking in with the customer throughout the implementation of your product or service and staying in touch with the customer after the sale.  In this post, I am going to discuss how to earn referrals and testimonials.

During my time as an outside sales representative in New York City, making sales was the highlight of my day. Once I made a sale, I was itching to ask for a referral or a testimonial. In other words, I wanted to ask the customer the question Do you know of anyone who could benefit from my product and services? However, once I made the sale my inner voice told me not to ask for a referral. Now many people would want to ask because they feel that the customer bought their products or services and this shows a sign of trust. But what did the customer really buy? Yes the customer bought you and your products but the main thing that they bought was your promise to deliver value through your offering. How can you ask someone to put their credibility on the line when you and your solution are unproven? Yet many people do.

Asking for a referral right after the sale is a mistake because you have not delivered on your promise and you will seem ungrateful. The customer will think that you are not interested in building a relationship and that you just want to make a commission. Remember your job as a Sales person is to build relationships with customers and to make sales by demonstrating your products value to the customer. Once the sale is complete, it is your job to deliver on the promises that you make to your customer.

Now you are thinking well this is great but when do I ask for a referral? How do I ask for a referral?

I would ask the customer for a referral when you know the customer is happy with the implementation of your product or service. In other words, ask when you have delivered on your promise. If you offer more than one product or service try to cross sell or up sell the customer first. See if the customer will use more of your products or services or if the customer purchases more expensive offerings from you. Once the customer purchases more items from you, the customer is demonstrating that they like and trust you. This is the time to ask for a referral. I usually waited until this point to ask for a referral.

I would ask the customer for a referral by first thanking them for the business that they have provided and trusted me with. Then I would ask if they knew of anyone like themselves that would benefit from my offering. My experience has taught me that the customers were always willing to offer themselves as a reference. Customers who offered me a referral would let me use their names with other clients or pass my name along to their peers.

Testimonials are like referrals. Testimonials can come in a variety of forms. There is a testimonial letter and a testimonial video. The testimonial letter is when a customer writes a letter stating that you did a wonderful job for them and endorses you. The digital version of this letter is the recommendation feature on LinkedIn. The testimonial video is when a client speaks of your performance in a short video segment. When asking for a testimonial, offer the customer the option to choose the option they feel comfortable with. Also be sure to tell them what specific aspect of your service you want them to focus on. Once you receive a referral and/or testimonial, make sure to thank your customer. Should you get new business through a referral, provide great service otherwise your customer will not give you anymore! Keep your customer informed on the status of the relationship with the referral.

This is how to earn a referral and testimonial in a nutshell.

How to Get Customers to Pay On Time While Keeping their Business

When we deal with customers, it is important to get them to pay their invoices in a timely manner. What a timely manner means is dependent on your company’s payment policy. Are these customers C.O.D or are they net 30, net 60, net 90 or longer? This payment structure is based on the length of the sales cycle.

What can we do to make sure that customers pay their invoices on time?

Develop and nurture the relationship with your customer.

Do the following:

1 When you complete the sale, put all details in writing. Agree on a method of payment with your customer.

2 Follow through with the implementation of the sale and check in with your customer to make sure they a happy with their purchase.

3 If the customer voices concerns or has an issue with your product, address it immediately.

4 Make sure that you honor the warranty and be willing to look up the invoice for the customer if they do not have this.

If you do these four things, your customers will pay 95 %percent of the time.

I did these things but the customer will not pay?

In a large organization, the accounts receivable manager will handle the customer by sending past due notices and charging penalties. However if you work for a small company as I did, this will be entirely on your shoulders.

In any case, you as the sales representative should call and/or visit the customer. When you follow-up with the customer, you should speak to the customer to try to work out a solution to the get the invoice paid. Remember before you go in with guns blazing that you want to keep this customer doing business with you. It is important to be polite and never raise your voice or swear. Should the customer get nasty and state that they are not going to pay, you should state the following: It is my job to get the company off your back. I am the last nice guy they plan to send. Take care. After you deliver this line, head for the door. This is a tip that I learned from Jim Cathcart and it works every time! I have used this as an outside sales representative and the customer would say hold on what do you mean? I would answer well after me, my manager has to get involved and he charged fees and refers this to collection and credit agencies. If my manager has to get involved it will get ugly. You are nice people and I would hate to see that happen. So what could we do about this? Many would pay that day or within a week. In many instances, I was also able to keep customer doing business with the company.  You should not be afraid to ask customers for money that you are entitled to. Your landlord and suppliers demands payment for services rendered and so should you!

As a result of my efforts implementing the strategies above, my receivables (open invoices) were the lowest in the company! This allowed me to earn more commissions, make more sales and develop great relationships with my customers.