Are Sales Promises Killing Your Financial Performance?


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Do you find your organization falling short on your sales promises to customers? How do you know if you’ve solved your customer’s problem or if the customer knows you’ve solved their problem? Are your sales promises draining you financially?

We’ve identified 6 questions that you need to ask that are key to understanding if you’re delivering on your sales promises. If you answer no to any of these questions, you might consider what you could do better.

Are You Delivering on Your Sales Promises?

First, do you know the sequence of events your target customers follow as they apply your solution to their need? As the customer applies your solution, they will most likely apply in a chronological order and will be motivated by what makes sense in their given situation. Knowing the sequence of events that the target customers follows helps you understand which need you are solving for your customers and how well you are doing that. If you don’t know the sequence, learn it. Try focus groups, interviews and post usage surveys

Second, does the design of your product, marketing, service and operations actions match your customer’s buying steps? Instruction manuals, process descriptions, voice mail prompts and other touch-points are created to help the customer solve their problem.

For example, if you don’t provide an instruction manual for using your product, this couldthrow a roadblock in front of the customer. Design them with the customers’ expectations and desires in mind. Work towards aligning your actions to match your customer’s buying steps.

Don’t allow rogue promises or be caught off guard by what they are asking. Understand how your customers learn about you, try you and buy from you. Do win-loss calls, interview your customers, or focus groups. Once you understand what they need at each step you will be able align your organization and make sales promises you can deliver on and meets what they want.  

Third, are you using information you already know about your customer? You’re wasting precious resources and goodwill if you fail to utilize information you already have on hand, such as name, address, purchasing preferences or previous purchasing information.

Avoid asking unnecessary questions that will thwart customer trust and that ask more of the customer than is required.

Discover ways to leverage information you’ve already gathered. Your sales and marketing databases are a good place to start. See if that information can be passed along as a client moves into implementation. It could be the same system, a download and re-upload of information or a manual process. Capture a vision of what the benefits to the customer will be by making these changes. This will help create a positive conspiracy around it in your organization.  

Fourth, are you delivering your promises as the customer learns about you, tries you out and ultimately buys your product? In other words, do you actually do what your customers think you will do?

Once you’ve helped your customers envision how your solution will help solve their problem, you must prove the realism and honesty of that vision as they solve their need.

Sometimes this requires reinventing yourself, as Starbucks did in 2008. CEO Howard Schultz recognized the company was failing to deliver on promises following the installation of automated espresso machines and selling pre-packaged coffee grounds. His solution? Close all 7,100 Starbucks locations for three hours one night and re-train all 100,000+ employees on the mission of Starbucks.

Learn where the gaps are. What aren’t you delivering on that you promised you would? Are they big gaps or small gaps? To get the attention of others, share data on what your organization may be losing. Understand the impact of that to your financial performance. Is there a client turnover issue? A longer sales cycle?

Fifth, do you know the pivotal tangible events and emotions that must occur for your target customers to consider the problem solved? Be focused on these events and emotions.

What happens when a company miscalculates the importance of customers’ sharing information as one way to solve their problems?

Dell discovered the answer to this question when they shut down their customer care message boards where customers frequently discussed challenges and ideas regarding troubleshooting Dell products. The backlash led to the return of the message boards but in a new way. Dell called them “Community Pulse” and allowed customers to post their questions and concerns but instead of peer responses, Dell employees engaged their customers directly.

Be like Dell. Create a forum for customer feedback. Offer post-sales voice of the customer surveys. Interviewaveus-4 your customers.

Finally, do you use cross-sell and up-sell opportunities as a way to embellish or speed a solution? Resist the urge to move immediately to the next sale. While you don’t want to stunt possibilities, it’s imperative you’ve addressed all customer needs and acknowledged how your solution will relieve their problem by showing them a better way, and that comes with rewards for you.

Find a cross sell or upsell opportunity to provide. Start there, then identify the right time to deliver the offer. Understand what your embellished offering solves. This can all be completed via research and customer interviews.

How’d You Score?

How many of these questions does your organization answer “yes” to? What else can you do to change your answer to “yes” on these questions. Leave your thoughts in the comment area. 

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Linda Ireland
Linda Ireland is co-owner and partner of Aveus LLC, a global strategy and operational change firm that helps leaders find money in the business performance chain while improving customer experiences. As author of Domino: How to Use Customer Experience to Tip Everything in Your Business toward Better Financial Performance, Linda built on work done at Aveus and aims to deliver real-life, actionable, how-to help for leaders of any organization.


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