Tag Archives: Sales

The Warranty, a sign of a good business

By Jeff Bowman

With every product comes some form of a warranty, whether it is expressed or implied, limited or unlimited. However the mere existence of a warranty means nothing if the company who made, sold or traded the product does not back it up.

I used to attend auctions many years ago and the auctioneer always began the auction with “all products sold here tonight are, as is, where is, no warranties, guarantees, written or implied” I knew that what I bought was totally my responsibility, and “to the buyer beware” (Caveat emptor)

The legal ramifications and laws of accountability are usually pretty straight forward, and that is why every product you buy comes with a written warranty, and you can probably recite most of the conditions off by heart, product covered for parts and labour and manufacturing defects for a period of 90 days etc.  These conditions are usually followed up with the manufacturers CYA conditions, which often tend to make the warranty difficult to apply when you need to :

” the following are not covered under warranty: – accidental damage, neglect, misuse, maintenance, damage caused by exposure to an improper environment, including, without limitation, excessive temperature or humidity, unusual physical or electrical stress, failure or fluctuation of electrical power, lightning, static electricity or fire, damage caused by service or modification or alteration of hardware by anyone other than us”

Blah blah blah.

It is like the old George Carlin narrative about the used car warranty, “once you drive it off the lot, if it breaks in half you get to keep both halves!”

Good companies stand behind their warranty, with few questions asked – a satisfied customer is their primary objective. That is how brand loyalty is built.

This past weekend my barbeque began to spew flames out the sides of the burner element.  I had replaced the original element 4 years ago with a universal element from Canadian Tire, it had a 5 year manufacturer’s warranty.  I had saved the warranty sheet with the receipt stapled to it all these years in my file box. To get a new burner I had to have the original receipt, check, the original warranty, check and  return it to a local distributor, a phone number was listed to call.  I called, and the line was disconnected.  So I took a quick trip to the distributor, about 2 miles away.  Not there anymore.

Well, I thought I would try my luck at Canadian Tire.  I explained my dilemma, and the manager called the listed number, hung up and approached me and said. “Well it looks like we’ve got a problem.  It’s our problem since we sold you the burner, go get another and we’ll just replace it. We have to stand behind our products.”

There was a thud as my jaw hit the counter. That was it. As simple as that.  That is a company that respects their supplier customer relationships. No hassle, no questions, big smiles all around. I know for sure that I can trust the implied warranty from this store.

How do you fare when it comes to warranties on your products or service, and do you display testimonials from your satisfied customers as part of your marketing mix? There is a lifetime warranty on a valued customer.

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Filed under Branding, Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, Manufacturing, Marketing, Sales

Mr. Haney’s sales angles bad for business

By Jeff Bowman

I have been in sales almost 30 years, and during that time I have never stopped learning.

Sales, like all other careers, has certain competencies and skill sets that first must be learned, then practiced, then honed through coaching and training.  There are certain attitudes, habits and a high degree of knowledge that need to be acquired in order to achieve and then maintain success as a professional salesperson.

An integral part of the knowledge salespeople gain is a certain code of conduct or ethics.  These ethics are what clients base their opinion of the salesperson’s company on.  The higher the ethical standards of the salesperson, the more trusted and credible the company is viewed. When a salesperson is trusted and respected by the people they do business with, it  benefits the company that they work for.

While the majorityof salespeople  maintain ethical conduct in their relationships with clients, there are those salespeople who seem intent on the fast buck, who will go  to whatever depths it takes to make a sale.  They are indeed skilled, but in the art of twisting the truth, spinning the value, in essence, misrepresenting to the customer, or in plain speak lying.

Salespeople can certainly attain short-term success in a seller’s market through unethical sales tactics.  I have been witness to managers actually training salespeople in unethical behavior, with little or no regard to the overall impact it has on the credibility of the organization.

An Indiana University study in “Business Horizons” found, “customers increasingly base their buying decision on whether they believe a company is ethical.” That belief is often based on what they see from the frontline company contact, the salesperson. Those of us old enough to remember the 1960’s television show can relate to Mr. Haney, the man who always had an angle to make money.

As a sales manager, it is your job to know how the customers view your salespeople and presumably your company.  This can be achieved through joint sales calls, customer complaint mechanisms, dropped customers and simple customer surveys.  Even decreased margins can sometimes indicate unethical sales tactics and should be investigated.

The goal of a good salesperson is to make a customer, not a sale, and in doing so you become a business partner rather than simply a vendor.  This doesn’t happen without establishing trust and credibility over a long- term business relationship.

When hiring and training new salespeople, set high standards from the very beginning, instill ethics as your corporate culture, and act quickly if that ethical standard is challenged.

It is difficult at times to measure the immediate impact of training and development on salespeople because it’s a long-term investment. We can, however,  instantly measure the cost of loss of trust and credibility when a customer no longer buys.  Do you really want to take that chance? Just remember, if your company isn’t credible, you’re products aren’t sellable!

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Value comes at a price

By Stephen Rhodes

Businesses face great temptation to lower their prices during in poor economic times.  In recent weeks it seems that everything is on sale or just reduced,  or 50 per cent off. Some of it is seasonal, of course, but some of it is desperation.  Many businesses will buckle to the great temptation and regret it later.

Shopping cartWe all know there is “no free lunch”  and “something for nothing” establishes the value of a service or commodity at precisely nothing. If your brand is built on volume and price that’s fine, but if your brand is built on quality and service, reducing your price simply hurts you long term.

Anyone can be cheap but only one will be the cheapest. Is that turf you want to own coming out of a recession? Likely not.

Instead focus on adding value. Talk to your customers. Listen to their problems and be a  problem fixer. They are in this downturn too, remember.

Consider their plight. Service their needs. Provide added value, but don’t drop your price. Good value comes at a price. Don’t cheapen it.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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Filed under Branding, Managing, Sales, Stephen Rhodes

Customer surveys can build sales

By Jeff Bowman

You spend a great deal of time and effort analyzing the marketplace, your competition, customer base, your product fit and resource allocation in building a sales strategy – the most important cog in your company’s revenue machine. This strategy allows you to maintain, to a degree, customer relationships, sales conversions and the cycle of sales against your competitors.

Why risk having it go to waste by not regularly talking to your customers?

We know that the cost of selling additional products to an established client is far less than the cost of finding a new client.  Taken a step further, it is easier to introduce a new line of products or services to an established client when a strong business relationship exists.

Understanding and responding to your customers’ needs provides an opportunity to increase sales, build better relationships, better service your customers and reduce costs of sales.

Consider that these savings can be used to establish new territories, market new lines or explore new revenue streams.

Being able to integrate customer feedback, both positive and negative, into a focused sales strategy increases the overall value proposition to the client.

Every business relationship is muti-faceted.  There is no one size fits all.  That is why belts have multiple holes for the buckle, which creates a specific comfort level, while at the same time performing the function of holding up your pants. Your customers are the same.  They have a certain degree of comfort in dealing with you, however they have varying needs around quality, service, product selection and availability, pricing etc.

Some customers are vocal about their pleasure or displeasure, while others remain quietly satisfied or dissatisfied.  Customer surveys allow you to make decisions based on many customer views, rather than just one or more vocal ones.

Satisfaction surveys are clearly an investment in future growth and sustainability. They are a snapshot in time and offer a more concise view of how our clients perceive us at any point in time. Reacting to what may become trends of dissatisfaction through changes to the sales strategy; will in the end result in proactive initiatives towards more complete customer satisfaction.

As the economy tightens, the competition for your company’s sales revenue will increase and you may see a slight reduction in profit margins. Integrating client surveys into your sales approach shows your clients that you have a genuine interest in their business and in solidifying the ongoing relationship.

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The Marketing Pad lives online

The Marketing PAD is a full service marketing and communications company anchored in the Toronto area. We will be using this blog to share marketing information, tips and stories to interested parties.

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