Previously, I have been looking at all the hard work that we need to do to help the customer navigate through the sales process.
So, the customer has been in and we have their details.
Maybe they were just browsing and left their details when we gave them some brochures.
Perhaps we have surveyed the site and we are trying to get them in for a presentation.
Or, we could have even been through the presentation, and they have gone away to think about it.
The big question is …
How long should I leave it until I ring them ?
If I leave it too long, they might think I’m not interested.
If I call too soon, they might think I’m harassing them.
Communication is the key here.
The most important thing you can do when the customer is leaving the store, is to agree when you are going to speak to them next !
And I don’t mean, “I will give you a call in a few days.” Because that might mean three days to one customer, but six days to another.
Whenever I was dealing with any customer, whether it be an initial lead in the showroom, or a customer needing a few days to go through the presentation I’d just done, or more importantly, a customer complaint, I would always agree my next contact.
“OK, I will give you a call on Tuesday at around 2pm, is that good for you ?”
This achieved a number of things for me.
Firstly, for the people in the sales process, it gave me an idea on where they were in the decision making journey.
If they responded with, “actually, we probably won’t be ready at that stage, could you leave it until Friday ?” That was great.
Firstly, I knew they were at least still in the process. And if they are only waiting until Friday, they are nearly at a decision stage.
And also, now when I ring, I can open with “Hi, it’s Paul, you asked me to give you a call today.”
This is a great opening line. I’m not ringing you to chase you about your kitchen, you asked me to ring. This was pre-agreed.
There is a very fine balance between annoying the customer, but still keeping control of the situation.
The worst thing you could ever do to an end user, is not ring when you said you would.
Now this could be at the lead taking stage, during the sale or after the sale.
I spent many of my years turning around failing branches, showrooms and businesses.
One of the first things I do when faced with a new situation, is ring as many of the customers as I physically could.
The SOLD file, the LOST file, the CURRENT file, the LEAD file, all of them.
The lost file was normally the most informative.
Whenever I have called customers who have decided to shop with a competitor, the reasons have been the same, no matter where I have been.
Only around 10% of customers will go with a competitor because they prefer their products.
Around 70% of customers will choose a competitor because of the way they were dealt with by the salesperson.
And these numbers haven’t changed over my years and years of speaking to customers.
The other 20% are made up of a mixture of people failing to get the finance, deciding to make another purchase such as a car or holiday, or ill health.
Now sometimes there may be a personality clash. I have dealt with customers in my selling days where I could just tell it wasn’t going well and the chemistry wasn’t right.
But a lot of the time, the comments were about communication.
“I dropped my plans in and never heard anything back.”
“The designer said they would call me with a price but they never did.”
“The salesperson said I would be contacted to arrange a presentation within a week, but it’s been three weeks and I haven’t heard anything.”
These were very common conversations I have had with people.
Generally the customer understands that there can be issues sometimes, or you can be busy, but they need to be kept in the loop.
An old mentor of mine once said …
“People can handle bad news, but late bad news is where the problem starts.”
So at whichever stage you are at with your customer, communicate, communicate, communicate.
Make sure the next contact with every customer is in the diary and everyone is aware.
CRM software solutions such as Anthill are perfect for this. Not only is every contact in the diary, but you will also get a reminder on the morning of the call, and you will be able to refer back to previous conversations that have been had with the customer.
“Sorry I didn’t call you last week, I was off work with Covid.”
That may seem a totally reasonable excuse to say to the customer, but all the customer is thinking is, “why couldn’t anybody else have rang ?”
“If I purchase my kitchen and they’re off sick again, what will happen ?”
At least one other person in the business needs to know what is happening with every customer. What stage they are at, and when the next contact is due.
The customer is expecting first class service from you, and communication is the common thread running through that.