Customer Experience Lessons from my all-time favorite Street Vendor

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If you are living in South India especially in Tamilnadu, you will be able to identify this item below that brings instant joy to our taste buds.

Kaalaan

Mushroom masala aka “Kaalaan”

1. Greet, Smile and Say the Name

I used to frequent this shop since I was in school. I have reached this shop using three different vehicles so far – bicycle, bike, and car but his response has always been the same.

The first words I hear ” Sundarrrr ”

We have all read stories on how showroom managers or car dealers judge you by your attire, the car you drive and more when you walk in. But this man treats a school kid, college guy, and an office-goer the same way.

I take my friends along to introduce them to this place and they are often pleasantly surprised about how he welcomes me.

2. Engage in Conversations

While the dish is being prepared, he is not only focused on the cooking but also engages with the customers asking about their kids and siblings and why they haven’t brought them along.

There have been instances where he has introduced me to random people saying that I have been frequenting his place loyally for more than 10 years. They smile, say hi and start talking about our mutual friend who is busy cooking for us.

He also tells me about my friends from school and college who had visited him in the past week or month to have food at his place.

3. Provide Value to every visitor

There have been instances when I got late from work and reached the shop when he was already packing to go back home. But he still unpacks a bit, takes a poori, dips it in spicy syrup (paani) and hands it to me. When you walk up to his wagon, he always gives you something irrespective of whether you are paying or not.

I have seen people refusing the free poori but he insists and asks them to eat and give feedback on how it is. If they like it, they will be ordering that when they come the next time.

For those outside India, this is how Poori looks

panipuri

4. Be Honest with your loyal customers when you commit a mistake

Whenever you commit a mistake and you understand that you have disappointed a loyal customer, always confide in them on why you did what you did.

Let’s take an example:

I order something as a takeaway and he starts cooking. Then after a few minutes, a customer walks in and orders the same thing. Once the item is ready, I get ready and take the money to pay but I see him put it on a plate and hand it to the customer who walked in after I ordered the thing.

He looks at me and whispers ” That customer has walked a long distance after college and must be very hungry. Give me five minutes, I will get yours ready ”

He does not stop with that. He bribes me with a pani-puri and I end up smiling. And he adds a lot of freebies than usual in the takeaway pack and gives it to me with a smile.

5. Understanding and acting on Customer Data

I was a big fan of one of his recipes which had egg in it. When I was in school, I used to have that item (” Egg Mushroom Masala “) at least once in a week.

After a couple of years, he changed his location to a residential neighborhood. He quickly realized he was losing out on a lot of footfall because he had eggs in his wagon and most of the residents in that area do not consume egg.

He instantly removed the item from the menu and quickly everyone was comfortable in buying food from him. Though I mention occasionally about how much I miss that particular one, I am happy he earned a truckload of new customers in that locality.

Summary

No formal MBA or training, not an avid reader of sales and marketing self-help books but this person is a master in keeping his customers happy.

Customer Experience Lessons from Streetfood vendor

The Genius and my favorite street food vendor Pandiyan 🙂

There is so much to learn from the people we meet every day.

 

 

 

 

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How to Sell without Selling?

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Modern mankind can smell a sales pitch from miles away. Every person in the world sells something to someone at some point in time.

Whether it’s a little boy who is convincing his dad to buy him ice cream in return for finishing the homework on time or one of your friends who talks you all into cycling to a far off lemonade stand instead of the one nearby just for the quantity served, a sale has happened in both the cases.

Thanks to telecallers who promise something on the call and deliver something else to customers after taking their money, the word “Sales” has clearly lost its trust. So whenever you meet a sales person, you are under the impression that he/she is just there to take your money.

The solution to this perennial problem is not rocket science. It is to put value first before money. That’s the reason why all the leading SaaS startups give you a free trial before they ask for a penny. Not just Startups, even LinkedIn offers the taste of a premium account or a Learning feature free for a month so that you experience it and then take a decision on whether your life or business is better off without it.

This will work like a dream for product companies but for services, providing value first almost means putting work first before getting paid which will affect the business. Here are the recommended steps for service -based startups to sell without selling.

1. Study their Buying Patterns

Understanding customer’s buying patterns is smart work and yields more results. Most of the big firms finalize their vendors before / just after the start of the financial year. Creating a good first impression during that time can give you an edge over your competitors.

When your lead’s competitor has just spent a significant sum in a service similar to what you offer, then it’s the right time to show your lead what you are capable of.

If you are a small business owner, being available to take a message or chat 24/7 on your website is a major win. Use Jivochat or Zopim.

Right place at the right time scores big time.

2. Knowledge 

It is easy to sell when you are perceived as an expert in the domain by your target audience. This explains the surge in firms looking for speaking opportunities as avenues of Marketing to take their product/service to a bigger audience.

Create speaking opportunities amongst your circles. Whatever you learn running your business, put it together in the form of a presentation and share it with newbie entrepreneurs or fellow entrepreneurs. You will be surprised to find the amount of value that you would have added to their lives.

Sharing best practices with fellow entrepreneurs is often a two-way street. The more you give, the more you will get back. The secret is to give without expectations. Before you know it, there will be a big group of people who will recommend your services in their circle like they have worked with you for years.

Only good thing to do with good advice is to pass it on.

3. Patience

Patience is the most important skill that will take you places in your Sales journey. Most of us wait for the due date to pay our bills though we will have money to pay from the day the bill arrived. We are all wired that way. Whenever you pursue a lead, they will take their own sweet time to convert. But when they have a requirement and reach out to you, you will have time to only say yes.

 The moment you run out of patience, even your emails/text messages will reflect that you are rushing the customer into making a decision. Always remember there are many other leads whom you can focus on and eventually the older leads will come back to you.

Your sale is under construction and you can wait with a good attitude.

4. Build the Relationship

After you have exchanged pleasantries and got their interest, understand the exact pain points of the lead by engaging in a conversation. If you have the right service that solves it, then it’s time to check if the lead has the resources to pay for the product.

It’s not wise to ask anyone how much they earn but you can always ask them how much they are willing to pay to solve the problem at hand. If you can arrive at a number that works for you and the customer, the deal is through.

Asking the right questions to understand more will always be appreciated.

Customers love the straight shooters.

5. Be a trustworthy confidante/friend

Once you have brought in the business, check with the customer now and then as to how happy he/she is through the process.

If you can solve his / her problems by working with your team, you become their go-to-guy whenever his friends / his family have a similar requirement.

The way they refer you to their friends will change from “ I know a person who does this“ to “ I have a friend who is the right person for this“

It’s always easier to get more business from the same customer than acquiring a new customer.

People always buy from people.

People buy from people whom they can trust. It’s not only about the price every time. But it’s always about the people.

Think of your last few buying decisions and you will see it.

Good luck.

How to make the most of Sales Rejections?

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So you are a passionate Sales professional who reaches out to potential customers to try and sell your amazing product / service.

You build interesting conversations, get to know their strengths, understand their needs and you feel that your product is a perfect fit for them and you also see the positive signs all along the way that things are moving as per your plan.

And then, you hear the shortest but the most disappointing word ever – ” No ”

Firstly “No” is the not the end of the road. There are two types of “No” s

1. Permanent No

It may be due to the following factors

a) They do not have the funds to buy your product

b) They do not need your product

What should you do now?

Rather than being disappointed with the whole exercise, here is something that you can do. Tell them you understand their decision and express your genuine willingness to help them in case they have any queries or questions in the future with regards to your line of activity.

Also seek their permission to send curated case studies that would help them to do better in their business. These case studies or tools or techniques should be in line with your business.

For e.g:  If you are in the business of selling animated videos for marketing, share with them the case studies of how certain global brands have innovatively used videos for their reach out campaigns.

It need not be your works but still it is a useful resource that would come in handy when they plan to increase their marketing spends sometime in the future.

You can send such articles once in a month or in a quarter. This activity is sufficient for the No to turn into an opportunity in the near future.

2. Temporary No

This can be due to the following factors

a) They are working with someone already on the same.

b) They do not have the funds to engage with you immediately.

c) Lack of interest

Now this is an interesting situation. There is nothing to be disheartened about in this scenario as this is similar to a treasure hunt. You are already en-route and you will strike gold very soon.

What should you do now?

The major difference between this and the previous situation is that you know a lot of information about the prospect – his likes, his company and his upcoming requirements.

Based on these you can create a custom follow up campaign spanning across months that will lead you to the treasure chest. This should be very customized depending on the factors as mentioned above.

Let’s take the same example of selling animated videos for marketing. Now let’s look at what can be done when the following factors come into play.

a) When your lead is working with another vendor for their video – You can wish them good luck and after a considerable amount of time touch base with them and ask them whether the video is out. They would share the video and most likely ask your feedback as you belong to the same industry and you can provide your genuine feedback.

b) When they do not have the funds to engage with you immediately – Try understanding their budgets for this task. Mostly they would be open to share their planned budget for this. When they do, check if it would be feasible for your firm to take it up at that pricing. If yes, you have a deal and if not you can always try arriving at a number that works for both of you.

c) When you smell lack of interest – It is best to wait and be in touch with them. Identify their competitor and if they use your product/service  or something similar, you can gain their interest by letting them know.

Conclusion

A “NO” not always means “Next Opportunity”. You can be patient and convert the “no” into a “yes”

You can connect me with me on LinkedIn here

 

Personalize your Sales emails – Increase your odds

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Sales is a very personal process. Using the right words in the emails can do a world of good to your follow-ups.

Let’s look at two phrases that are regulars and what has to replace them in your emails.

email symbol on row of colourful envelopes

1. Hope you are doing good/great

This is how a classic email gets started. This is something that should never be assumed. What if your prospect is having a bad day and he happens to open your email that starts with this.

Instead, Google about your prospect’s company and find out the latest updates. You can start your email asking about the same.

They might have got a round of funding, celebrated an anniversary, had a merger or a acquisition. A lot can happen in a little time. We never know unless we check them out.

Here is how we can start – A few examples

” How did the flash sale go? ”

” Checked out your latest blog on Precision Marketing and it was a great read.”

2. Looking forward to take things ahead

How would we feel if someone else took a crucial decision on behalf of us? The decision to take things ahead is definitely not yours to make.

They might feel pressurized because they feel they cannot force their way out. This would result in radio silence from their end making you chase them and eventually you give up.

Instead use this for closing the email

” Kindly let me know how you would like to take things forward “

The word ‘kindly’ will make them feel at ease and the words “how you would like” would assure them that the decision is theirs to make.

There is a greater chance that the prospect would respond to this email.

Follow-ups are the Key

It is perfectly normal to not get a reply for your very first email. If it is a cold email, the first email will put your company on the prospect’s mind.

If your product/service is a very niche one, they might immediately write back to you connecting you to the right person or expressing interest themselves.

When you use email tracking tool like Yesware or Streak, you will understand the number of opens and the number of unique viewers. If the opens or the unique viewers are increasing, then you can be rest assured that your product/service is of interest to them.

You can wait for a couple of days and then check with them if they have any thoughts on how it will help their business.

If you would like to read more about winning cold emails, you must definitely check this blog – here. It worked for me big-time.

A Personal Email > Mail burst

If you are a million dollar marketer or a high profile business consultant who has thousands of users subscribed to know your latest works and offerings, it is ok to go for a mail burst.

But if you are a part of a growing Startup or someone from the SMEs, its better to take one email at a time rather than sending out a flurry of emails to potential prospects.

One email with a personalized message and a friendly follow-up will definitely do the trick.

Good luck. May the odds be always in your favor. Would love to hear your feedback in the comments.

 

3 Tools to increase your Sales Productivity

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< This article was originally posted on LinkedIn here >

Sales is the life-line of any company and every minute saved by an individual in your sales team will reap rich rewards for you. Gone are the days where we use excel or reminder apps to keep us informed of our follow-ups or important to-do’s.

If you are a fan of cold emailing or mailing in general to reach out and interact with potential clients, this article will definitely be helpful for you.

There are a lot of tools that aim to save time for your sales team in making them more productive. So let me cut the chase and start listing out the same.

1. Rapportive

Rapportive is an amazing tool from LinkedIn that brings out the best of your contacts inside your inbox. It has got a plugin for Gmail and it acts like a social CRM.

Using rapportive, you can find out the email address of the prospective lead in a few minutes. For e.g if you need to send an email to me. You know my name, you know my company.

Press Compose and start entering the possible combinations for the email id ( Old school trial and error will help you here). If your combination is right, my details will appear on the right side.

You will also get to see the prospect’s latest tweet or an update from his social profile provided he has linked his email id with his account.

This works most of the time and the joy in getting the email id right is priceless. You can know more about the same here

2. SalesLoft

If you are not a big fan of trial and error methods and you need that guessing part of the email id to be automated, do not worry. There is SalesLoft for you.

Simply install the SalesLoft plugin for Chrome. Go to Linkedin, identify a lead for your business and on the right side, you will see a button that reads ” Add to SalesLoft “.

The lead gets added to your SalesLoft profile and the software does all the guessing, searches for possible matches from the same company, arrives at the needed email id and shows it to you.

The match with the highest percentage is normally the right one. One other way is to find a email id using SalesLoft and double check it using Rapportive.

You get limited credits in free version and information about the strength of the company also would be available for your view. You can check about the same here

3. Contactually

This is the tool you will totally love. It is more like a CRM but it has some great features that makes your sales life easier. For starters, you will need to add all your email accounts and social networking accounts with this tool.

This will automatically bring in all the contacts that you have in your email into the dashboard. You can drag and drop these contacts into Buckets – Warm Leads, Cold Leads, Hot Leads, Family, Friends etc. You can also add custom buckets as per your style of working.

Say you have 1000 contacts, dragging and dropping them into buckets will definitely bore you but that’s where they gamify the experience. You can use Buckets game to add 50 contacts on a timed challenge on a daily basis. Do this for 20 days, you are done.

The best part about this tool is to configure the time for follow-up or touch-base for each and every bucket. For e.g You may need to mail your hot lead once in 4 days atleast but you may need to mail a warm lead once in a fortnight or may vary according to your business.

Let us take a use case here

Your referral partners – the people who pass across leads may feel really good to work with you when you send across an email to them once in a month updating them about your latest works or strengths acquired. Based on your previous interaction through email or even facebook chats, it will remind you that one month has passed and time to send a email.

You can check out Contactually here

To conclude, these tools will save your time in identifying the right email ids of your target leads, give you an update on what they are upto recently and will also help you to organize the way you stay in touch with them.

Good luck. Would love to hear your feedback in the comments.

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