Tired of clichés?
“It’s a win-win deal”; “To be honest with you…”; “Put lipstick on a pig”. Why not teach your employees to talk effectively instead?
You can always tell when you are having a conversation with someone trying to sell you something. The clichés come at you like the tapping of a dot matrix printer printing the bible. Why not remove the clichés from the conversation and deliver a direct hit story that applies to your customer.
Use fewer words that have more meaning. Overused clichés tend to get customers indiscriminately nodding their heads in approval but don’t mean anything. Anyone can use those clichés and deliver nothing. As a customer, don’t nod your head in approval. Instead, just keep asking “What does that mean?” until you get an answer that you can actually understand and they can put in writing. If you still don’t understand after that, walk away.
When you train your sales folks (you do train, right?), do you include communication style? What they say and how they say it is critical to the end result of a sale. Let’s look at a few different scenarios of who and how:
- Retail store clerks – the interaction here is between a clerk (at the register or on the sales floor) and the customer. The conversation is usually short and can be initiated by either party. The clerk’s ability to answer a question without having to check with someone else is important. Add to that, the clerk’s ability to offer a solution to an out-of-stock product, direct the customer to the right location of a product or wisely give a non-cliché answer will please the customer. Stay away from acronyms, corporate jargon and answers not pertaining to the question. It’s not important to show how smart you are, it’s important to answer their question.
- Service Technicians – that’s right. Your technicians that service customers’ equipment are part of your sales team. They have face-to-face contact with customers and their performance is key to returning customers. They must be quick on their feet and have the freedom to go above and beyond to exceed the customers’ expectations. The same parameters that apply to the retail clerks apply to technicians.
- Delivery drivers – another often overlooked segment of your sales team. Again, they have contact with customers and their attitude can tumble your customer satisfaction rating into single digits. Include them in your customer communications and sales trainings. Something as simple as bringing in the empty garbage cans on trash day go a long way for a special touch.
- Inside and Outside sales people – obviously, these are the ones we always include in sales training. They have the most customer contact, should have the highest quality contact and the most enduring relationships. Their conversations must be team oriented supporting the people that will follow them in servicing the customer. Coach them on what and how to talk with customers. The use of product and manufacturer acronyms is strictly forbidden with retail customers (applies to many industry customers as well). They mean nothing to them.
- Others – receptionists, custodians, back-office people, fork-lift drivers and anyone that touches the product or meets the customers. They all need to care. Their involvement in communication may not be with the customer, but the conversations with each other affect the customer indirectly. The way they treat each other carries through to the customers and the products.
In each of these cases, training on speech and communication is imperative. Role playing is despised by most but really puts them in a responsible light to perform. Coach them on direct communication that does not sound hurtful, commanding or misleading. Speech should be in a moderate tone, confidently delivered without using “like” or “you know”. Smiles should accompany the speech and eye contact delivers authenticity.
Yes, this does mean training all your employees. The investment will turn into gains in customers who return to buy more from you.