Who do you sell to? Clients or Customers?

Who do you sell to? Clients or Customers?

Recently, a Pennsylvania commercial printer, we’ll call Mike, called me for help. He heard that I specialize in equipment lease negotiations. Mike was at the end of a three-year lease on two digital copiers. He wanted to buy the equipment. As I live by the rule “everything is negotiable if only you ask,” I assured him I could help.

Do Your Homework

Negotiation step one is to research all available facts. “Knowledge is power,” Sir Francis Bacon advised. The more I know about my customer’s wants and needs the better I am at negotiating.

Here’s what I did to prepare.

Step 1. I researched Mike’s short-term and long-range equipment plans, and gathered copies of the lease contract, information on the leasing company, equipment dealer and investigated used equipment values.

Step 2. Prepared a plan for the various negotiation outcomes.

Step 3. Located the right person with whom to negotiate. I started with the leasing company and was told that the dealer controlled the end of lease purchase price. Not to spoil the story, however, sometimes what we are initially told is not the final word.

The dealer salesperson was identified as my “go to guy.” It became obvious after two discussions that he: 1) Had little authority and 2) If he had power, he was unwilling to lower the purchase price. He felt that he had given the customer several opportunities to accept HIS proposal for a lease extension. What did the customer want? Mike wanted to purchase the equipment, not sign a two-year lease renewal.

Numerous telephone conversations ensued. The dealer position remained unchanged.  The salesman’s voice indicated his boredom with the negotiation and an unwillingness to make any concessions. He had no further interest in helping Mike. He was only interested in his position. Did he win the battle but lose the war? YES.

Step 4. Don’t give up. Go back to the beginning. Mike’s story concludes happily. I returned to the leasing company and finally reached a manager that uttered the beautiful words “You’d like to negotiate? I can help you.” She immediately reduced Mike’s purchase price by 50%.

Are you listening to your customer? Do you work as their partner or are you in the deal for a commission check? That is transactional thinking. Instead, build relationships. I refer to my “customers” as clients. I am an adviser and confidante. What do your customers call you?

Mary Redmond is a top-rated female professional speaker, author, consultant and business coach.  She is a negotiation and body language expert that instills confidence, inspiration and expert knowledge that sets up her audiences for success!

Why You Should Talk to Customers Like They’re Hospital Patients

hospital pic

My husband recently had another surgery. In our 30 years together, he has had fifteen operations.

When a loved one is hospitalized, we often spend “quality” time with friends, family and hospital staff including physicians, surgeons, nurses, technicians, therapists, aides, volunteers, nutritionists, cafeteria employees, administrative personnel, and more.

We meet folks in stressful situations and may lash out due to a lack of eating and sleeping.

How do I avoid the title of “Witch Wife of Room #8223”?

I embrace the business communication skills that have served me for many years. The same principles for business negotiations apply when advocating for someone in the hospital.

  1. Listen. That means hear everything before asking questions. This rule applies to sales negotiators and patient advocates. In business, we may want to dazzle a prospect with product knowledge, but forget to listen to their experiences and problems.At the hospital, the post surgical update will be extremely brief if you frequently interrupt the surgeon with your vast medical knowledge gleaned from online research. The doctor is the expert, not you.
  1. Ask Smart Questions. In sales, we prepare for the prospect by assembling a list of appropriate questions. This demonstrates we’ve done our homework by researching the customer’s business, personnel, equipment, competitors and more.  Prior to and during the surgical updates, you’ll want to know as much as possible about the outcome, unexpected circumstances that will affect recovery, prognosis for future medical needs and comfort measures. Remember the surgeon is a human being, not God, and cannot predict the future.
  1. Be Patient with the Patient. They are the reason you are at the hospital. They’re more fearful than you are. Move slowly and deliberately around their room. Speak at a comfortable volume. Ask how you can help. Don’t assume they need assistance. Frequently, they want to resume self-care as quickly as possible.  In sales, don’t assume the prospect wants to change suppliers or needs your product or service. Your job is to uncover problems, diagnose needs, assess areas for improvement and then make a professional recommendation.
  1. Know When to Go Home. Do not take up residence in your prospects office or in the patient’s room. There is a time to exit. Know how to recognize the signs that visiting hours are over.

I am comforted knowing that business negotiation principles are helpful when I support someone I love.

Mary Redmond is a top-rated female professional speaker, author, consultant and business coach.  She is a negotiation and body language expert that instills confidence, inspiration and expert knowledge that sets up her audiences for success!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Customer Tuck-In Service?

Man with Sleeping mask sleep on a bed, cup of herbal tea in the foreground. Focus on tea cup

Have you tucked in your hottest prospects so they’ll have a calm, restful weekend? Years ago, one of my managers asked me this exact question before a 3-Day Weekend. The question left me confused. I can’t tuck them in, I live in Kansas and they’re in Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin, Oregon and California.

On this morning, I was quite sure he didn’t mean I should buy an airplane ticket and fly to my customers locations. He explained that I had a mission every Friday that would secure my sales future for the remainder of the year.

Before the weekend arrives, answer all pending customer questions, backlogged service requests, non-returned phone messages or status updates.

Most small and large business owners think about business 24/7. On weekends, spouses have time to grill their mates with questions. You can count on the 20-questions routine to commence Friday night or over coffee on Saturday morning, especially if pending issues involve financial expenditures, additional time commitments or providing added personal resources to the business.

When answers are not within the owners grasp, their homecoming can be tough. Don’t let this happen to your prospects. Never depart on Friday before making sure your clients can comfortably leave the office behind and enjoy a less stress-filled weekend.

If you do not tuck in those clients, be assured that you’ll have numerous customer calls Monday morning.

In addition, during a day or two away from the office, owners often review the past week. There’s time to tally up the successes, failures, near-misses and the land mines avoided. If they have your proposal in their briefcase, this may be their first chance they have to quietly evaluate its contents.

If your customer has concerns about your ability to solve their problems, be sure you have given them the answers by Friday so they can ruminate about the project over the weekend.

Time off work gives a business owner an opportunity to stop, think and make decisions. They have mental space to view projects and proposals in total; not as bits and pieces like a jigsaw puzzle with missing parts.

Tips for this holiday weekend:

1. As a long weekend approaches, review hot prospect files for pending questions.

2. Check in with your sales support team to make sure they too have fulfilled all customer requests. As the team leader, you are responsible for the outcome of each of your prospective accounts. Team selling requires a consolidated and well orchestrated effort to win new business or retain existing customers.

3. Use open-ended questioning techniques to uncover as yet unidentified customer concerns. My favorite questions usually begin with the 5-W’s and 1-H. (Who, What, When, Where and Why and How)?

4. Ask your prospect, what would you change about my proposal to make it fit even better?

5. What business concern stands between you and the perfect weekend?

Congratulations. You’ve tucked in your customer. Enjoy your long weekend. You deserve it!

Mary Redmond is a speaker, consultant, coach, negotiator and body language expert known for her powerful negotiation workshops, inspirational speeches and corporate presenter.

What Fine Print Did You Ignore, Today?

contract glass How often do you read a Software Agreement before accepting the terms and conditions? I bet  few of us stop to read any Terms of Service before we download a new AP and agree to the  terms and conditions, without ever wondering what they say. We are an impatient world and  we want what we want, when we want it, which is NOW!

I’m talking about the software to operate any free or paid online service or piece of technology  equipment. There are even software agreements and/or Terms of Service Agreement with common communication tools as Facebook, LinkedIn, a mobile device or for cloud software services.

With Facebook, I didn’t read the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities before I set up my Facebook account. Today, I found that I’d agreed to allow the following Contract Terms:

  1. “Permit a business or other entity to pay us (Facebook) to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you.”
  2. “You understand that we may not always identify paid services and communications as such.”

Mary’s translation (MT): I agreed to become a spokesperson for a product or service that I mention on Facebook. In addition, the product’s manufacturer or distributor may pay Facebook for turning over my name, photo and comment. I’ve agreed to do this free. One more surprise is that Facebook does not have to identify their site content as a paid advertisement. 

Six (6) Contract Examples

Recently I was prepared to download some “Free Software” for my Android phone. I decided to heed my own advice,

“Always Read before You Sign on the Dotted Line or Be Prepared to Pay the Consequences.”

The following are a few statements I accepted in a single Software Terms of Service contract. The portions of the agreement are underlined. My translation follows.

The Terms of Service (TOS)

  1. Sometimes, our products have additional rules. You have to follow these too.

MT: (Even if you don’t know what those rules are and we don’t tell you about them, you have to follow our rules.)

  1. Sometimes, we have to change our products. For example, new legal or technological developments might force us to alter certain product features. If we do and if it’s important, we’ll let you know.

MT: (Trust us. We will take care of you. Furthermore, we will decide what you need to know.)

  1. Please don’t break our stuff or compromise our security.

MT: (We will get mad at you, if you mess with our stuff or us.)

  1. We make our living creating cool products. Please don’t steal or copy them.

MT: (If you steal, we will make you pay.)

  1. If you do things, like break the law or our rules, or don’t pay us, or never use your account, we might terminate or suspend your account. However, if we do, we’ll try to let you know first.

MT: (We know where you live and we can bill you, however, for some unknown reason, we might not be able to reach you to tell you we are upset and cutting off your service.)

  1. Some parts of these Terms of Service, like the parts that limit our responsibility in legal cases, are so important that they will remain binding even if this agreement is terminated.

MT: (You only think this contract is complete, we may not be done with you. You might have to die to get out of the deal.)

I am not saying we must read every software agreement for our phone aps. What I am saying is IF the dollars involved that can be made or lost are big, read  the agreement. Your business success and survival depend upon it.  

Read all Software Agreement or Terms of Service contracts. If You Don’t Be Prepared to Pay a Price.

I’m Uh, Glad to be Your Uh, Your Uh Speaker Today

FearSpeakingcanstockphoto17693197

 

As a professional speaker, I attend many conferences throughout the United States. Recently, I attended a luncheon with an audience of 500 business professionals. The speaker was a Vice President of a worldwide corporation with thousands of employees. My expectations for a highly informative  and detail packed speech were high.

The speaker had content of interest to the audience but the delivery was horrible. Why do corporations send out people who represent them poorly? Our speaker could have spread corporate good will, community pride and enthusiasm. Instead, they droned on for an excruciating 40-minutes.

Common Mistakes that Non-Professional Speakers Make

  1. Dependence Upon Filler Words: Examples of fillers are “uh”, “um” “and” “you know” and “so.” The speaker used the word “uh” over 100 times in 40-minutes. That’s 2 ½ “uh’s” every minute.
  2. The 100-Word Sentence. Excessive dependence upon the conjunctions “and” or “but” to string idea after idea into a boring soliloquy.
  3. PowerPoint Boredom. Each Slide was on the screen a minimum of 1 minute 20 seconds. That is too long to stare at the same screen with 20 or fewer words on it. Think of how long a 60-second commercial feels. We have become a nation with short attention spans.
  4. I Can Read. The Speaker recited the words on the slides to the audience. The audience was of an educational background that one could assume had the capacity to read.
  5. Give ‘em the Cold Shoulder. The speaker turned away from the audience and towards the screen, to read from the slide. The speaker flashed the “cold shoulder” every 1 and ½ minutes.
  6. Repetition. An effective technique, used by many professional speakers’ politicians and religious leaders. This speaker clearly was ill-prepared and lacked confidence.
  7. Don’t Read to Me. The only time the speaker did not use filler words was when they were reading directly from their prepared remarks. The “script” is an outline.
  8. Smile. An occasional smile helps to gain the audience’s attention, empathy and respect.
  9. Be Excited About the Topic. If the speaker was as bored with the presentation as the audience grew to be, we could have all gone home after coffee and dessert. No Harm, No Foul
  10. No Humor. A stand-up comedy routine was not expected. However, the question is often asked: “Does a speaker have to be humorous?” The answer is No, not unless they want to: A. Get Paid. B. Connect with the Audience. C. Be Remembered or D. Cause a change attitude, actions or point of view.

My next blog will give you some helpful tips. Be prepared for the next time you find yourself speaking in front of a small group, board meeting, your staff, a jury or even scarier, an audience.

Neanderthal Negotiators! Not Extinct.

bulls 1

Bullies are alive and some live in Kansas. Bullies take no hostages and revel in unearned victories.

The Fearless Negotiator met her match in the form of a 250 pound, 6’6”’ car repair shop owner and his tow truck cave man accomplice.
The mission was to help get a friend’s car out of the repair shop following an accident. A friend and I entered the body shop, introduced ourselves and shook hands. That was the last cave man socially acceptable action that the two bully business owners took.

The negotiation goal was to get a tow bill explained and hopefully a slight reduction in an exorbitant tow and storage charge for a two-mile tow.

Within 30 seconds of our arrival, the two men proceeded to yell insults at us, threatened to call the police, pounded on their chests in a primitive behavior, strutting around the lobby while telling me to shut up when I attempted to ask a question. Additionally, their logic included suggesting that people of my type, were one of the primary reasons that the United States of America was in disastrous shape.

Two petite American females were contributing factors in ruining America for the loyal red, white and blue Neanderthals that strutted before us. I had no idea that my physical stature could so do much damage to the Free Enterprise System by attempting to get a copy of an invoice and receive an explanation for the tow charges.

Bullies are not rational nor do they approach a discussion in a logical manner. They may choose to forgo doing business with someone again rather than risk losing a negotiation, especially while they promote their position in front of an audience.  The body shop lobby confrontation had drawn a peanut gallery of tow truck drivers and mechanics who wanted to add their two cents with occasional laughs, snorts and grunts. For awhile the scene resembled a spectacle between four gladiators in the Roman Coliseum.

Tips When Facing a Bully Negotiator:

  1. Do the Homework First: Research the company you intend to negotiate with. If the opponent is a tow truck operator or body shop, consider watching Tow Truck War TV shows that deal in the world of vehicle towing. Know your opponent!
  2. Show No Emotion: Do not raise your voice, yell or use profanity. Bullies want a fight and love seeing their opponent love their composure.
  3. Avoid Physical Violence. This is a battle of the mind, not a street confrontation.
  4. Call Them On Their Game: Say, “Most people don’t find it necessary to raise their voice when speaking to me. I am interested why you need to do that.”
  5. Anticipate their Tactics: Address upfront, by saying, “I do hope that you’ll yell at me at least once during this conversation. If you don’t you will not live up to my image of people in your line of business.

Happy Ending?

I’d love to report that I reasoned with the two business owners and they understood my concerns. Or that they gave my friend a discount. Neither happened. The only method of payment they would accept was cash. No checks nor credit cards today at least not from the two people who could ruin the American way of life by asking for a discount.
We paid cash and got out before we were physically harmed. Sometimes it’s best to walk away. As Kenny Rogers sang in in The Gambler, You’ve go to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em and know when to walk away.

I am wiser today. If there is a next time, I will take someone who speaks Neanderthal.