Honesty is the Best Policy

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By Guest Blogger EJ Widun

For those of you who follow Lead in the Moment, you know that we not only love servant leadership but incredible customer experiences. At times, we will share the good and bad of these experiences. In this case, it is a story of how honesty created raving fans for a local business and additional revenue.

This summer I decided to focus on my health. You can consider it a delayed New Year’s Resolution. In my youth, I was an avid bike rider but I had not ridden a bike in fifteen years. This summer I decided it was time to bike again.

Obviously, my bike was old. I was not sure if it would be worth getting it fixed or buying a new bike. I loaded my old bike into the car and drove to a local bike shop. I wheeled in the bike and waited for my turn. As I waited, I walked through the store looking at the shiny new bikes. When my turn came up, I said to the gentleman, I wanted to get my bike looked at. I don’t know if it is worth fixing or getting a new bike. He said, this bike (he never used the word old) is a great bike and just needs a tune up. You cannot get a bike like this anymore. I can get this bike ready in a day and you will save a lot of money because the new bikes are far more expensive.

I was totally shocked that he would not try to sell the new bike. When I picked up my “old” bike, it looked fantastic. After the pick-up, I took in my wife’s bike and my daughter’s bike for a tune-up. I also bought my son his first bike from this store. One interaction of pure honesty, created a lasting relationship and a raving fan.

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Don’t Ask Me, I’m Just the Salesperson

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Some days I just like to blog about things that amaze me. The following story is true – I couldn’t make this up! As a former salesperson, I am truly amazed by this conversation between a salesperson and the customer.

A friend of mine received a phone message from a salesperson asking her to return the call otherwise they were going to lose coverage on a product they were utilizing. Although she typically does not handle this type of issue, she decided to call this person back to see if she could direct her to the correct contact.
When she spoke with this salesperson, she was informed they were not going to lose coverage since they did not actually use the product. She was just calling to try and get them back as a return customer. Then, when my friend asked what the product was, the salesperson didn’t know, and stated she was only the salesperson. And, by the way, could she direct her to the correct person who would handle this? My friend informed her that it would difficult to help out if she didn’t know anything about the product. Five minutes later, the salesperson leaves a message informing my friend that she can now explain what the product is and how it works.

Let’s take a closer look at this. First lesson of sales – don’t lie to a customer to get your foot in the door, or you will end up with your foot in your mouth. This salesperson left an incorrect message for a customer. Did she think no one would question this? How do you think this makes you and your organization look if you open up a conversation with a lie to a prospective customer?

Second rule (and most important in my opinion) of sales – know your product inside and out! If the product you are selling is highly technical, at least have the courtesy to have a basic working knowledge of what the product does. It is unacceptable to attempt to sell your product to a customer if you do not have rudimentary product knowledge.

Needless to say, my friend did not call her back and has no intentions of doing so. In this scenario, the salesperson did not instill a feeling of trust and competence. If you cannot get a customer to trust you, it will be very difficult to get a customer to buy your product.

I always felt as a salesperson, that I was the face of the organization. However the customer felt about me, they in turn felt the same way about the entire organization. How do you get your sales people to convey your brand image, and not view themselves as “only” a salesperson?

What was the most unusual thing a salesperson has ever said to you?

Finding Common Ground

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Finding common ground with your customers was a golden rule of sales. Back when I was fresh out of college working as a sales manager I received this important piece of advice. I was taught the skill of walking into a client’s office and quickly scanning the room looking for something about their surroundings that I could relate to.

Throughout my career, I felt that if I could find common ground with my customers, I could quickly gain their trust, and then be able to sell my property. I was never comfortable just busting into someone’s office and throwing the hard core sales pitch at them. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not an “in your face” kind of person. In finding a commonality with the customers, it made my job easier as they saw me as a person, not a sales person looking to make a dime.

How often do we find common ground with our employees? You may lead a very different life than your employees, but that does not mean that you have nothing in common. I once worked for a general manager who had a gift for finding the common ground with everyone in the hotel. Through his actions of actually getting to know all of his employees, he was successful in encouraging all of us to learn something about one another. This led to a very cohesive work environment with engaged employees. This also led to a work environment where people cared about one another, including the guests.

Through the process of finding common ground with your employees, you are showing that you care about them and value them as individuals. After all, finding common ground shouldn’t be that difficult, as don’t we all walk on the same earth?