By Chuck Lauer
Selling is a tough profession! Studies tell us that sales people face rejection 90 percent of the time.
It doesn't matter what they are selling, the 90 percent rejection rate applies across the board. Think about that! Being told "no" nine out of 10 times would seem to take the stuffings out of anybody! But people who are true professionals understand what the long-term objective is for any sales person and that is to get a "yes" from a client by persistence, hard work and creativity.
But sometimes I wonder when I hear younger sales people talk among themselves if they recognize that getting someone to say yes is only the beginning of the true sales cycle. For instance, when a client finally says "yes" to a sales person, they have to follow through on the promises they made to the client in terms of price, services and follow-up.
Furthermore, it can often lead to a lifetime relationship for a sales person and her company, and that is indeed a rewarding experience in the selling business. On the other hand, if a customer's expectations are not met, a relationship with a customer can end quickly and that is not a happy ending! Unfortunately it can happen with little notice and that's why staying in touch with a customer is so critical. Customers have the same wants you and I do, and it is best to keep in mind that regular communication is essential in any relationship.
About 20 years ago during my tenure as the publisher of Modern Healthcare magazine, I was frustrated by an account that seemed to run advertising space in just about every other publication but Modern Healthcare. One of my very best sales people handled the account and she worked hard on trying to get the American Laundry Company to advertise in the magazine but to no avail.
So out of frustration, I decided that I should make a call on the advertising manager for the company, based in Cincinnati, Ohio. I landed at the airport and went to the company headquarters looking forward to meeting the advertising manager and talk things over as to what his objections were about advertising in Modern Healthcare.
I rented a car and found my way to the company. When I finally arrived, I was greeted by a long climb up some steep stairs to the headquarters building. I announced myself to the receptionist and she told me I would have to wait a few minutes. That's when I noticed a large plaque behind the reception area which was titled "A Customer." I was dumbfounded when I read the plaque because it really zeroed in on what I have believed all my life as to what a customer truly is.
I remember asking the receptionist if she would mind if I copied the the writings on the plaque. She told me to go ahead, but that if I had $3.25, she would give me a scroll copy of the plaque on the wall. I have had that scroll in my office ever since, simply because it defines so simply and correctly what I believe a customer is all about. I would like to share with you what was on that plaque:
- A customer is the most important person in any business.
- A customer is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.
- A customer is not an interruption of our work. He is the purpose of it.
- A customer does us a favor when they call. We are not doing them a favor serving them.
- A customer is part of our business, not an outsider.
- A customer is not a cold statistic. He is a flesh-and-blood human being with feelings and emotions like our own.
- A customer is not someone to argue or match wits with.
- A customer is a person who brings us his wants. It is our job to fill those wants.
- A customer is deserving of the most courteous and attentive treatment we can give him.
- A customer is the lifeblood of this and every other business.
If you are in business, that should be the motto that drives your organization. There is nothing more precious than a customer. They make it all happen and they should be treated accordingly! I know the world has changed and that many businesses often treat the customer with little regard. I suggest to you that any organization that continues to do so will eventually fail. No question about it!
That is why there is so much opportunity today in all businesses, including healthcare where the patient is often treated as a number and not a human being with feelings like our own. Follow the 10 steps I have outlined above and I guarantee you that whatever business you are in, success is your destiny.