Tag Archives: thinking out loud

How not to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory

A couple of times recently I’ve been on the verge of buying something. Actually ready to hand over cash or credit card when the seller has said or done something to change my mind at the last minute. I was wondering how often this happens? Probably more times than we, as business owners, realise.

How to recognise the signs of “buy out”

There has been a lot of talk about getting “buy in” but it seems to me that we are often more concerned with this than recognising the tell-tale signs of what I’ll call “buy out”. So what are the signs? I think there are two main categories of signs. There are the ones that you must recognise in yourself that are going to prompt the action in the buyer and then there are the ones in the buyer that are telling you they’re about to change their minds.

Our actions that put off buyers

  • talking too much after the buyer has offered to buy (what used car dealers used to call “buying the car back”)
  • not knowing the product well enough, being unsure of what exactly it can and can’t do
  • vacillation – whether in possible appointment times, availability of product or delivery dates
  • using the wrong tone of voice or turn of phrase ( usually related to stating something from our point of view rather than being customer centred)

Signs the buyer is cooling off

  • no longer making eye contact
  • use of phrases like – “perhaps I’ll think about it”; “don’t bother now, just let me know when you can get it”; “I want to discuss it with my spouse”
  • you are doing all the talking, the questions have stopped.

There are many more and perhaps you have some you’d like to share. Feel free to comment.

What to do about it?

  • know your product inside out
  • listen to the customer
  • be aware of the non-verbal cues customers give you
  • be customer-centred
  • if you can’t avoid some vacillation then preface it with a phrase that shows you understand their position e.g. “I realise this isn’t ideal and you need to know when we can deliver so you can organise your day but I’ll find out as soon as I can and let you know at the earliest opportunity.”

Most of all we need to be aware that it is possible to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  Be aware that we can successfully sell our product or services and then scuttle the deal by failing to notice the signs in our actions or those of our customers.

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Old fashioned service still counts for a lot

You can have the flashiest, coolest website with the latest and greatest products and services but if your customer service is rubbish then why bother?

Why do people make it so hard for you to buy from them?

This is a topic that has exercised my mind before. See my blog entry. But it’s one that just won’t go away. Recently I surfed the net looking for a product and trying to find the best deal. Finally I found it but I needed to know if the supplier stocked refills for the item in question. I couldn’t find them on the site. No phone number! I had to look them up in the White Pages and when I rang I just got an answering machine. I left a message and no one replied.

Then I filled out the email form on the site. It took more than 24 hours before I got a reply. They said they did have refills and if I went to the site later in the day I could find it there and order both and get free shipping. So I went back to the site later in the day… that night… and first thing in the morning… Nothing. I emailed them again, and again. I left two more phone messages and eventually received another email saying that it would happen soon. A few hours later it did but now the price on the original item had been been increased by $10! So I wrote and asked why. No reply…

I decided I really needed this product so I gritted my teeth and went to fill out the account form. Date of Birth! Please! Why do you need my date of birth? I checked the privacy policy which in my opinion was more like an invasion of privacy policy and decided to look elsewhere.

So what is good service?

I found another site, slightly dearer that had both the item and the refills on the site. It had several phone numbers so I called to see how much delivery was. I explained my previous problem and the guy said “I’ll give you free delivery if you buy both. Go back to the site in half an hour and I’ll have set it up for you”. I did and he had! So here’s my list for good customer service:

  • Reply to queries quickly
  • Do what you say you’ll do
  • Do it when you said you would do it
  • Make it easy for people to contact you
  • Don’t be sneaky (as in this case by hiking up the price without saying anything)
  • Don’t make your forms more daunting than they need to be. Do you really need someone’s Date of Birth?

That’s my whinge for today and congratulations to the supplier I bought from who wants to remain nameless – great service and modest too!

Don’t be “dagvertiser”

I was flipping through the colour magazine of a weekend newspaper and I was amazed at the number of ads using tortured words and misspellings. Here are three reason why I think advertisers just shouldn’t do it.

  1. I really think it’s counterproductive. They’re all so lame and amateurish. I mean Salebration! PLEASE! If there’s one thing worse than a bad spoken pun it’s a tortured written one. If you have to stoop to such depths what you’re saying is there isn’t much that the product or service has that’s worth writing about. I can’t even remember what this ad was for.
  2. Literacy among the whole population – not just young people – seems to be less than ideal. Partly this is a result of lacklustre education, partly because for some people English is a second language they’ve had to learn late in life and partly it’s because the written word – in papers, on billboards and websites – is tortured and misspelt. Why do we write LITE and TONITE? What was wrong with light and tonight? Written words in public spaces tend to have a de facto authority and people accept what they see as being correct usage. What a pity it isn’t!
  3. Professionalism. If you want people to take you and your products or services seriously then silly language gimmicks won’t do it. You can still be clever, amusing, eye-catching and thought provoking and use the language properly.
In the spirit of if you can’t beat them…

I’ve coined a new word to describe these horrible ads, which I think describes them perfectly and uses their own tortured logic – DAGVERTISING. (If you don’t know what a dag is check here)

Helping struggling entrepreneurs

I was reading another blog the other day and came across some information that really interested me. Like many people I like to contribute to charity from time to time to give back or “pass forward” some of the bounty I’ve been fortunate enough to have been given. Also, like many people, I hate giving to the telemarketed charities where I know so much of my donation will go to the sales person, the marketing company and the administration of the charity. That’s why when I read about Kiva I was really impressed.

What is Kiva and what does it do?

I guess the best way to describe Kiva is as an enabling organisation. It co-ordinates microfinance loans to entrepreneurs in third world countries. It partners with microfinance charities in these countries and passes on your donation to them. You get to choose which project you loan your money to and how much you give. There are details of who the money is being lent to and what they want to do with it.  And whenever you visit their website you can see how many loans have been paid back each week and more. When the loan is paid back you can opt to either get the money paid back to you; re-loan it to another project; or give it to Kiva to help defray their expenses. 100% of your money goes to the people who need it.

Re-usable charity

This is a fabulous charity and I love the idea that any money I give will keep on working as it is lent out multiple times to hard working people who are doing there best to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. If you’re interested to find out more then visit www.kiva.org and see how easy it is to make a real, measurable difference.

OK! You’re the best at what you do. Why isn’t your website?

People tend to assume that because they are acknowledged as the best in their field it doesn’t matter if their website isn’t the best it could be. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We’re a community of consumers that has come to rely on the web for information

I’ll give you an example without mentioning any names. I had heard about a world class hairdresser and wanted to know a bit more about him before I parted with my cash. So the first port of call was his salon website. It really didn’t do him justice.

The copy was full of business-speak

Who talks about “core-objectives” and “directional boutique environments” to people who want a great haircut? This site patently wasn’t written with the target audience in mind. It looks like it was written to impress a bank manager.

The colours were pale and washed out

Pale pink with white text reversed out is very, very hard to read. Why make it difficult for your customers? And, trust me on this, a paler pink text on pale pink is almost invisible. Why would a person do such a thing? Because they don’t know any better or because they don’t care? Either way it put me off.

If you’re good at what you do then your website must reflect it

If you have a cheap and nasty website you can’t expect people to pay $200+ for a haircut. It doesn’t look professional and it casts doubt on your professionalism too. Most people check businesses out on the web these days before they do business with them. This is your surrogate persona and it has to reflect who you are; how good you are and the standard of your services. Don’t sell yourself short.

What is good copy?

This is the question everyone would like to know the answer to. It seems to me there is no one right answer either. What is good copy for one audience or medium won’t necessarily work well for another.

Are there are any common factors?

I think that there are some “must have” qualities before something qualifies as good copy. Here’s my list. See what you think and feel free to post your list or additions you think are important.

  1. It must be written in a style that appeals to its target audience
  2. It should be clear what is being sold
  3. Benefits and unique selling propositions should be well articulated
  4. It should answer the implied question “Why this product and not another?”
  5. It should assist the reader to understand why they need the product or service
  6. It should be interesting and engaging and make the reader want to know more
  7. And it should contain a call to action

Protecting Australian jobs

I was saddened when I heard on the news that good old Westpac, despite making billions in record profits, was looking at moving jobs offshore. And I was wondering what, if anything, could be done to stop jobs being hived off to India and all points cheaper on the map? Then I had an idea. So here it is Mr Swan if you’re listening…

Put a payroll tax on offshore job positions

I don’t know if this would work but it seems to me that to stop losing Australian jobs without whittling away the pay and conditons of Australian workers, we need to make overseas positions more expensive. If we taxed companies per head of offshore employee then this would be a less attractive option. What’s more it would swell the Treasurer’s coffers so he can fix our health system!

Anybody got any thoughts?