Tag Archives: Jeff Mowatt

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Top 6 selling bloopers (and how to avoid them)

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Top 6 selling bloopers (and how to avoid them)

Sports bloopers are often about preventable errors that favour the other team. The classic is when players score against their own side. In the world of business, there are similar blunders – particularly during buying conversations with potential customers – that end up favoring the competition. As I explain in my seminars for sales teams, it’s not always a shortfall in your company’s product, price, or service that ruins a potential sale. Often it’s inadvertent comments that put customers off just enough for them to choose your competitor. Unfortunately, sales reps are usually unaware they commit these offenses so they keep repeating them. See if you or your team members ever make these top six selling gaffes.

1. Insulting their intelligence

Let’s assume that if a customer is in a position of authority in their company (meaning they are trusted to make significant buying decisions) they must be somewhat streetwise and smart. That means that any kind of pushy, manipulative sales approach is going to backfire. You need to enter a buying conversation presupposing that this customer is an intelligent, well-intentioned grown-up. Your comments should include a healthy dose of, “You probably already know….” and “At your level, you’ve likely experienced….

2. Not listening

Contrary to popular opinion, the most important part of a sales pitch is not your value proposition. The most important part of a pitch is demonstrating your understanding of that specific customer’s unique circumstances. That requires asking pointed questions that help customers see for themselves where there are opportunities for improvement. Then verify your understanding with statements like, “Sounds like you…[summarizing their situation].

3. Insulting the competition

If your potential customer is currently doing business with your competitor, it’s fine to compare your offerings, but be careful not to criticize the competition. After all, the customer decided to do business with them. So slamming the competition is tantamount to telling the customer that he or she made a bad choice. (See “Insulting Their Intelligence”).

4. Ignoring objections

If you propose a solution that ignores a customer’s objection or concern, you are essentially saying that you weren’t listening (see “Not Listening”). That requires being transparent in how your proposal either addresses their concerns, or it provides extra value that could outweigh their concerns. The key is we shouldn’t pretend we didn’t hear or value their initial objections.

5. Being a know-it-all

It takes time and effort to gain trust. Yet it’s so easy to lose. It happens when we stray out of our own area of expertise and claim to be an expert in politics, sports, raising kids, the weather, you name it. Ironically, one of the easiest ways to gain trust is to quickly admit ignorance about anything the customer seems to know a lot about. Showing respect by deferring to your customers’ knowledge and expertise helps them become more receptive to yours.

6. Ignoring the influencers

It’s easy to focus on the key decision-maker – presumably the economic buyer. After all, they are the people who will approve the payment. And yet by focusing on that “bag of money” we are inadvertently insulting the people who may have more say in the matter than anyone. The father of the bride may be paying the bill, but imagine the consequences of a wedding planner ignoring the wishes of the bride and her mother! (We all know the groom has no influence – he just needs to do what he’s told.) The lesson is no one should feel like they’re being ignored.

The bottom line

Effective selling has less to do with pushiness and manipulation, and more to do with good manners and respect. Talk less. Listen more. Allow your competitors to blunder their way out their customers’ good graces and send them into your capable hands. Here’s to you not dropping the ball.

This article is based on the bestselling book, Influence with Ease, by motivational speaker, Jeff Mowatt. For more information, visit JeffMowatt.com.

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THE STRATEGIST: Five rules of customer confidentiality

Five rules of customer confidentiality

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Five rules of customer confidentiality

Customers may not feel comfortable asking you for discretion, but they always appreciate it.

Did you ever have a potential customer who should have been excited about doing business with you but seemed reserved?

It happened in a weird way for me. The senior managers seated around the boardroom table were excited that their new technology would disrupt their market and separate them from every competitor. They had brought me in to help craft their sales message and to eventually train their reps on how to introduce it to their customers.

Along with their excitement, though, I sensed some tension. So after I was introduced, my first remark was: “I know this goes without saying. I just want it known for the record that everything we discuss here will be treated by me as confidential.”

I immediately noticed this huge look of relief on the face of the CEO. From that point on, things went just fine.

Customers may not feel comfortable asking you for discretion, but they always appreciate it. Unfortunately, in today’s world of social media, coffee shops used as offices and cellphones that record anything anywhere, confidentiality seems to be backsliding into a state of dangerous decline. That’s why you can gain tremendous trust with customers by simply following these five unwritten rules of customer confidentiality. Ignore them at your peril.

Rule #1: Know that you are in a position of trust: We’ve all heard of doctor/patient confidentiality and lawyer/client privilege. Doctors and lawyers are sworn to secrecy about their customers’ affairs for good reason. Your customers deserve the same discretion from you. When you talk to others about your customers, assume that the customer is in the room with you, or will read everything you post or write about them. If what you’re sharing isn’t complimentary and publically known, then keep it to yourself.

Rule #2: Starbucks isn’t a confession booth: I once hired a consultant who was based in another city to do some work on our website. We scheduled a conversation about my brand and target market. To my dismay, he logs into the call from a coffee shop. Throughout our conversation, I’m seeing customers come and go in the background. Not only was it distracting, it felt like a violation of my privacy as a client. There are good reasons why lawyers and accountants won’t host you in their office. Instead, meetings are held in a private room. One reason is that you shouldn’t see confidential files lying on their desk from other clients. Another reason is so your meeting will not be seen or overheard by others. Coffee shops are for casual coffee, not for doing business.

Rule #3: There’s a difference between small talk and prying: Ever have this happen to you in a restaurant while you’re paying for the meal: the server is standing by your table waiting for you to input your credit card PIN on the portable device and asks, “So what are your plans for the rest of the day (evening, weekend, whatever)?” Pardon? When did our relationship as patron/server evolve to the intimacy of me needing to share my weekend plans? The key to making small talk sound natural and appropriate is context and relevance. Unless you’ve been chatting about weekend plans with that person, better to stick to safe topics like the weather.

Rule #4: Yes, your cellphone conversation is annoying: People who talk at length on cellphones around other people sound like jackasses. Seriously. It reflects a total lack of self-awareness and distain for basic civility. It also tells people around them they don’t respect the privacy of the person on the other end of the phone. They’re damaging their own reputation and are too oblivious to realize it. Don’t be one of them. Move to a quiet area and lower your voice.

Rule #5: Strong feelings don’t necessitate expressing them: This is perhaps the most important confidentiality lesson at work and in life. We can’t unsay, unpost, or unTweet our opinions and observations. No doubt you can think of numerous examples at work and in the news where a little discretion and self-restraint would have saved significant fallout. While it’s tempting to be drawn into adding our two cents to a discussion, perhaps the greatest contribution we can make to the relationship is remaining silent. We hope in turn that when we say or do something less than brilliant, others won’t share it with the world. Ironically, kindness and maturity are often best reflected — and trust is sometimes most strongly earned — by simply shutting up.

Jeff Mowatt is a customer service strategist and speaker based in Calgary. This article is based on his bestselling book, Influence with Ease.

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How to successfully deal with angry customers, part 2 of 2

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How to successfully deal with angry customers, part 2 of 2

By Jeff Mowatt

Yesterday we ran part one of this two-part column on dealing with online trolls and angry clients. Here’s the second half.

Why are customers ruder on the phone than in person?

Anonymity. Like road-raging drivers in cars, people phoning in think they won’t be recognized. That’s why it’s important to begin the phone conversation by introducing yourself with your first and last name. Then immediately ask them for their name. The quicker they identify themselves the less likely they’ll become abusive.

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What are other strategies for dealing with upset customers?

Tone it down – literally. By slowing your rate of speech and slightly lowering your voice tone, you sound less emotional and more rational. Speaking of speaking, don’t dumb down your language or use filler words: kinda, sorta, like, ya know. The more articulate you are, the more intelligent you’ll be perceived to be, and the more respect you garner.

How can I get my staff to really care about unhappy customers?

Begin by hiring people who have some history in caring for others. Check if they volunteered or played on sports teams; indicating they’ve learned to work with others, and it isn’t always about them. Then provide them with proper customer communication training. Fortunately, employees don’t have to become proverbial bleeding hearts to effectively resolve customer concerns. They do, however, need to learn techniques to put customers’ minds at ease. Contrast for example, when an untrained employee says, “I’ll deal with it,” versus, after we train them, employees instead say, “I’ll take care of it for you.” By simply changing a few words, service providers create better feelings for everyone.

The bottom line

By equipping employees with the proper customer service training, you end up with less staff turnover and fewer social media comments that bruise your brand. Best of all, employees discover that when you learn how to recover trust with unhappy customers, those formerly angry bruins can actually become teddy bears.

This article is based on the bestselling book, Becoming a Service Icon in 90 Minutes a Month, by motivational speaker, Jeff Mowatt. For more information, visit JeffMowatt.com.

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How to successfully deal with angry customers, part 1 of 2

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How to successfully deal with angry customers, part 1 of 2

By Jeff Mowatt

Dealing with upset customers is like feeding bears. Most will be happy you’re there, but a few will get really ugly if you don’t give them what they want. When things go wrong, how well is your team equipped to deal with the situation? Having trained customer service teams for more than 25 years – particularly those dealing with customers who are frustrated or stressed – I’ve put together this list of frequently asked questions about how to deal with internet trolls and regain lost trust with upset customers.

How should you respond to internet trolls and customers who post rude or unfair comments?

First, gather the facts to determine whether this is an actual customer expressing a legitimate concern or just an internet troll trying to provoke a response. In the case of a troll comment like, “This place is horrible” (with no details), don’t reply. The sooner that negative post is buried by positive customer comments the better. When you do receive unflattering comments from actual customers, try to contact them by phone to resolve the matter offline. If that’s not possible, then when replying in writing, stick to facts (not opinions), and remain professional and reasoned – not emotional. If there was indeed an error on your team’s part, apologize for the hassle and offer a remedy. Mention the steps you’ll take to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Express your appreciation for the customer bringing it to your attention.

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How do you deal with a customer who’s swearing at you on the phone?

Say this: “I want to help you. Using that language is preventing me from focusing on resolving this for you, so I’m going to ask you to talk with me without using that language.” If they continue the profanity then say, “As I said before, I want to help you. However, I’m not going to do so when you’re using that language, so I’m going to hang up. Please call back when you’re ready to talk about this without that language. Goodbye.” Then tell your supervisor about the conversation so they’ll be forewarned when the customer calls back demanding to speak to a manager.

What’s the fastest way to get an angry customer to calm down?

Listen without interrupting. After they finish venting, your first words should be, “That sounds frustrating.” Consider how this misstep may be affecting the customer and let them know that you get it. Take ownership and apologize for any shortfall or misunderstanding.

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This article is based on the bestselling book, Becoming a Service Icon in 90 Minutes a Month, by motivational speaker, Jeff Mowatt. For more information, visit JeffMowatt.com.

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Top Six Selling Bloopers (and how to avoid them) Part 3

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Top Six Selling Bloopers (and how to avoid them) Part 3

By Jeff Mowatt, JeffMowatt.com

Sports bloopers are often about preventable errors that favour the other team. The classic is when players score against their own side. In the world of business, there are similar blunders – particularly during buying conversations with potential customers – that end up favoring the competition. As I explain in my seminars for sales teams, it’s not always a shortfall in your company’s product, price, or service that ruins a potential sale. Often it’s inadvertent comments that put customers off just enough for them to choose your competitor. Unfortunately, sales reps are usually unaware they commit these offences so they keep repeating them. See if you or your team members ever make these selling gaffs.

  1. Being a know-it-all  

It takes time and effort to gain trust. Yet it’s so easy to lose. It happens when we stray out of our own area of expertise and claim to be an expert in politics, sports, raising kids, the weather, you name it. Ironically, one of the easiest ways to gain trust is to quickly admit ignorance about anything the customer seems to know a lot about. Showing respect by deferring to your customers’ knowledge and expertise helps them become more receptive to yours.

  1. Ignoring the influencers  

It’s easy to focus on the key decision-maker – presumably the economic buyer. After all, they are the people who will approve the payment. And yet by focusing on that “bag of money” we are inadvertently insulting the people who may have more say in the matter than anyone. The father of the bride may be paying the bill, but imagine the consequences of a wedding planner ignoring the wishes of the bride and her mother! (We all know the groom has no influence – he just needs to do what he’s told.) The lesson is no one should feel like they’re being ignored.   

 The Bottom line

Effective selling has less to do with pushiness and manipulation, and more to do with good manners and respect. Talk less. Listen more. Allow your competitors to blunder their way out their customers’ good graces and send them into your capable hands. Here’s to you not dropping the ball.

This article is based on the bestselling book, Influence with Ease, by motivational speaker, Jeff Mowatt. For more information, visit JeffMowatt.com.

Parts 2 and 3 appeared earlier this week.

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Top Six Selling Bloopers (and how to avoid them)

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Top Six Selling Bloopers (and how to avoid them)

Part 2 of 3

By Jeff Mowatt, JeffMowatt.com

Sports bloopers are often about preventable errors that favour the other team. The classic is when players score against their own side. In the world of business, there are similar blunders – particularly during buying conversations with potential customers – that end up favoring the competition. As I explain in my seminars for sales teams, it’s not always a shortfall in your company’s product, price, or service that ruins a potential sale. Often it’s inadvertent comments that put customers off just enough for them to choose your competitor. Unfortunately, sales reps are usually unaware they commit these offences so they keep repeating them. See if you or your team members ever make these selling gaffs.

  1. Insulting the competition

If your potential customer is currently doing business with your competitor, it’s fine to compare your offerings, but be careful not to criticize the competition. After all, the customer decided to do business with them. So slamming the competition is tantamount to telling the customer that he or she made a bad choice. (See “Insulting Their Intelligence”).

  1. Ignoring objections

If you propose a solution that ignores a customer’s objection or concern, you are essentially saying that you weren’t listening (see “Not Listening”). That requires being transparent in how your proposal either addresses their concerns, or it provides extra value that could outweigh their concerns. The key is we shouldn’t pretend we didn’t hear or value their initial objections.

This article is based on the bestselling book, Influence with Ease, by motivational speaker, Jeff Mowatt. For more information, visit JeffMowatt.com.

Part 1 was posted yesterday. Part 3 will appear tomorrow.

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Customer Relations: Part 4

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Customer Relations: Part 4

When organizations invite me to speak at their conferences or train their team members, we start with trends that are impacting their customer relationships. Check out these four customer service trends along with some tips for capitalizing on them to boost your business.

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Retain versus blame

This may seem counterintuitive – in today’s increasingly litigious society, it’s more important than ever that organizations admit fault and make amends the moment they have a service slip up. It’s not just that they could be sued and lose. Smart service providers have done the math and know that it’s much less costly to do the right thing for customers than to have disgruntled customers trashing your brand. Especially when social media messages can quickly go viral (an apt term since it effectively gives your brand a disease that makes other customers want to avoid you). The good news is that customers are wonderfully forgiving towards companies who quickly own their mistakes, and who do something to address the customer’s hassle.

The bottom line: When we combine these trends we see the emergence of a theme. Growing your business with today’s customers means you and your team members need to be easy to do business with. That means coming up with unique business processes that make buying from you easier. It means narrowing the choices so that buying decisions are easier. And it means training your team members so that – even when things go wrong – they recover your customers’ trust, quickly and easily.

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This article is based on the bestselling book, Becoming a Service Icon in 90 Minutes a Month by customer service strategist and motivational speaker, Jeff Mowatt. For more information, visit JeffMowatt.com.

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Customer relations: Part 3

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Customer relations: Part 3

When organizations invite me to speak at their conferences or train their team members, we start with trends that are impacting their customer relationships. Check out these four customer service trends along with some tips for capitalizing on them to boost your business.

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Choices just confuse 
Offering a vast array of products and services is no longer considered by customers to be helpful. If today’s customers want to take the time and energy to explore choices, they can do an internet search and be instantly overwhelmed. Too many choices do not lead to customer purchases. They do lead to decision fatigue. This is where your team members can really stand out. Their role becomes analyzing customer needs, exploring which options are best suited to satisfy those needs, and presenting two or three final candidates in the simplest fashion to make your customer’s decision easier.

Read part 4 tomorrow.

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This article is based on the bestselling book, Becoming a Service Icon in 90 Minutes a Month by customer service strategist and motivational speaker, Jeff Mowatt. For more information, visit JeffMowatt.com.

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Customer Relations: Part 2

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Customer Relations: Part 2

Four tips for smoother interactions with your clients

By Jeff Mowatt

When organizations invite me to speak at their conferences or train their team members, we start with trends that are impacting their customer relationships. Check out these four customer service trends along with some tips for capitalizing on them to boost your business.

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“Better” brands don’t sell

When your company faces tough competition, being better gets lost in the clutter. Lots of organizations claim to have better service. That’s the problem. Customers don’t believe it. Better doesn’t motivate them to make significant changes when what they already have is reasonably good. What customers really want to know is what makes you unique. That requires you and your team members to explore options to do things differently. Get creative. Take calculated risks to test different ways of doing business. Disrupt your market. Give customers something different to talk about. Or one of your competitors will.

Read part 3 tomorrow.

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This article is based on the bestselling book, Becoming a Service Icon in 90 Minutes a Month by customer service strategist and motivational speaker, Jeff Mowatt. For more information, visit JeffMowatt.com.

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Customer relations: Four tips for smoother interactions with your clients

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Customer relations: Four tips for smoother interactions with your clients

By Jeff Mowatt

Part 1 of 4

When organizations invite me to speak at their conferences or train their team members, we start with trends that are impacting their customer relationships. Check out these four customer service trends along with some tips for capitalizing on them to boost your business.

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Good service is wallpaper

Today’s customers are so busy with their multiple demands at home and work, and are so distracted by their mobile devices that they no longer even notice “good” service. That means your team may work all day long delivering consistent service and your reward will be zero. Today’s customer only notices two types of service: 1) poor service and 2) remarkable service – literally. They need to be so impressed that they’re motivated to remark or talk about your service. That brings us to trend number two and what they talk about.

Read part 2 tomorrow.

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This article is based on the bestselling book, Becoming a Service Icon in 90 Minutes a Month by customer service strategist and motivational speaker, Jeff Mowatt. For more information, visit JeffMowatt.com.

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