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Driving Sales and Keeping Customers in a Softening Economy

November 15th, 2011 by admin
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We received some great feedback on our first Forum Focus, so we thought we’d bring you an edition focused on sales and customer experience.

Although the economy is still relatively slow, there are several ways to keep customers engaged and obtain new sales leads. In this week’s Forum Focus, we’ll take a look at three tricks to getting sales referrals, how empowering employees will win customers, and why keeping customer engagement (beyond mere customer service) is crucial.

Last week, Inc. magazine posted a great piece from writer Geoffrey James about the right and wrong ways to get sales referrals.  James’s three tips to getting new referrals from your latest recommendations include asking after delivery instead of after closing; giving your customer a referral first; and encouraging your customer to contact the prospective referral first. We’ve found that these three tips can really help build a customer’s trust and open up new doors.

Sometimes in order to secure new customers, you have to get out of your own way. In a Harvard Business Review article, Hawaiian Airlines senior vice president of Operations Charles Nardello, encourages leaders to empower their employees to handle sticky customer situations. Why? With social media making it easier for customers to vocalize to businesses about their feelings, it’s even easier for employees to address their concerns. Nardello wrote that he finds his employees perform best when they are encouraged “to improvise and bring unmatched service to their customers in a sincere, personal way.” In these scenarios, a level of trust between employer and employee is created, allowing the employee to show customers that they will always be taken care of.

Rick Jensen, chief sales and marketing officer for Constant Contact, also acknowledged the social media explosion, saying that the customer service bar has been raised. In his latest piece for AMEX Open Forum, Jensen says that social media merely makes obvious the necessity of personalized service and in-depth expertise. Businesses should be able to go beyond the initial transaction by suggesting services or tools for future projects. Customers want to know that you are sincerely interested in helping them make the right purchasing decisions based on their needs.

 

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