It seems like a no-brainer. People have been saying for years that the “client is king”, and that the “customer is always right”. But if that’s the case, why is it so hard to get good service?
As a service provider, our goal is to satisfy each and every customer we work with. Running successful marketing campaigns and providing high-quality results is an integral part of that, but it’s not everything. In fact, our most satisfied customers are the ones that provide regular feedback and do the legwork required to follow-up the leads we generate. They’re the ones that enter into marketing initiatives with a partnership mentality; they work with us to make sure that the lines of communication are open, and that we have access to the tools we need in order to promote their products and solutions.
In my years of marketing, you’d be amazed at how many cases I’ve come across where leads are not turned into sales because of untimely, inappropriate, or poor follow-up. Pre-sales services are a fundamental part of the user experience when dealing with a potential supplier. Inquiries that go unnoticed, aggressive or sales-pushy tone during meetings, or not addressing fundamental concerns raised by a prospect are all ways to “kill” a lead.
In order to ensure you are providing the best quality pre-sales service to your prospects, here’s my quick check-list of dos and don’ts:
Follow-up all inbound inquiries
Someone who reaches out to you and asks a question (regardless of what that question is) should get a timely response. From my perspective, an inbound inquiry should first get an automatic response message confirming receipt of their request; the actual response should come 24 to 48 hours later. Companies that take more time than that to respond are at risk of losing business because prospects won’t have the patience to wait around — they’ll just find someone else who can respond faster.
Treat everyone with respect no matter who they are
Even if you are speaking to a company intern, you never know how he or she may influence key company decision-makers. As a general rule-of-thumb, it’s good policy to treat everyone with the same respect you would a top-level executive, regardless of whether they’re the CEO or an assistant.
Honesty is the best policy
Being totally transparent and not trying to “over-sell” your product is the best way to establish trust. Be honest about what your solution can or can’t do compared to your competition. Not only will people appreciate your honesty, but this will also help ensure customer satisfaction after a sale has taken place. No-one wants customers to be disappointed with their purchase — so if you are upfront before the sale, a prospect will feel more confident about their choice after.
Partner with companies that complement your offers
It’s nice to be able to offer a wide range of solutions or services, but don’t do so if you are not confident in your ability to deliver. Partnering with companies that complement your offers is a great way to provide enhanced services, and generate new business.
Conduct win-loss interviews
Understanding why you won or lost a deal by conducting win-loss interviews with your clients/prospects is a great way to get in-depth understanding of what you do well, and what you need to work on. It will give you better visibility on the end-to-end buying process of your core target; you’ll gain important insight about what your customers (or could-have-been customers) really think about you. Not only will this help you improve your marketing and sales techniques, but it could help you reduce your sales cycle over time.
Be a good listener
No-one likes to be interrupted, especially when they are speaking about themselves, or their needs. Good customer service (before, during, or after a sale) means knowing how to listen to your audience, understand their position, and react in a timely (and appropriate) manner. It’s good to put yourself in their shoes, and know where they are coming from (even if you may not always agree). So, keep your mouth shut and your ears open! If you do so, you’re guaranteed to learn something.
Treat people the way you would like to be treated
Good customer service comes from good people. Treating people the way you would want to be treated is the best way to conduct yourself in all matters, whether personal or professional. Being level-headed and not letting emotions get the better of you is an important goal for any service-oriented individual. It’s easy to let yourself get carried away emotionally when you are passionate about what you do, but in business, it’s a no-no.