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Maintaining Healthy Customer Relations when Issues Arise

By Bob Lewellen on 2012-11-13 in Bob's Blog

As much as we try to prevent issues from occurring, sometimes things just happen. Yes, it's unfortunate when a customer is upset, but more importantly it is vital to fix the issue at hand. To do this you need to learn the source of the problem and then implement a plan so that it doesn't happen again. Below are some steps that will help you in this process and make it easier in saving the business relationship.

The first step is to figure out how and where the problem first began.  Contact and listen to your customer.  Letting them discuss how they are feeling and communicating to that you are working to find the root of the issue will go a long way towards helping your customer to feel at ease. Remember as a Kaeser & Blair dealer, you are your customers business partner and you have their best interests in mind.  Reassure them that you will handle the issue in the most efficient manner.  Remember, allowing the customer to open up will allow you to gain important information about the problem from the customer's perspective.

Next, contact and communicate with the individuals, department, or Dealer support to pinpoint where the problem originated.  The most important thing to keep in mind is to not place blame.  It won't help the process and could lead to more conflict.   All you are trying to do is simply gain more information to go back and update the customer with the status of their inquiry.

Now you must go back to the customer (not to make excuses), but to explain further what went wrong and reassure them that steps/processes have been put into place to ensure it will not happen again.   This would also be an appropriate time to offer any concessions or exchanges to lessen customer frustration.   Regardless, an apology should be offered and a promise of elevated service.  Be kind and professional.

The next time that an unfortunate event happens that is out of your span of control remember the most important elements: listening and investigating. The easiest way to solve reoccurring errors is to narrow down the current information and analyze the troublesome factors. Do this and let the customer know you care so that you can keep them around for many years to come!

Be Happy: Sell More

By Bob Lewellen on 2012-10-16 in Bob's Blog

One of the most important assets for a salesperson is confidence.  It's remarkable how a positive mindset is such a successful sales driver.  Science even says so.  

A researcher for CNN, suggests that "Happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%, as well as a myriad of health and quality-of-life improvements." 

Customers and clients recognize and know if you are happy.  So do your best to be positive.   I recognize that this can be difficult at times, so here are some tips from the same article listed above: 

  • Write down three new things you are grateful for each day;
  • Write for two minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours;
  • Exercise for 10 minutes a day;
  • Write one quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising someone in your social support network (family member, friend, old teacher)."

Believe in yourself and be happy.  Sales professionals know that you're far more likely to achieve success when you approach your job with confidence.  

10 Tips for Improving Your Numbers

By Bob Lewellen on 2012-10-03 in Bob's Blog

Every once in awhile, it never hurts to get back to basics.  While nothing on this list of suggestions will come as a surprise to you, there is always value and benefit in a purposeful review of the basics.  These are presented in no particular order of importance.

1. Make sure you ask for the business, every time.
2. Understand and know why your customer wants to buy.
3. Listen, Listen, Listen and then ask questions.
4. Focus on selling service and value.
5. Know your products and services.
6. Create urgency and be proactive.
7. Avoid distractions and focus on selling.
8. Know your prospect.  What kind of buyer are they?
9. Plan your month, plan your day, plan for each call.
10.  Be positive, smile and have fun.

A constant and deliberate focus on these simple steps will have a meaningful impact on your monthly numbers when applied purposefully and consistently.  They will make the sales process more fluid, build trust with your customer and position you for sales success.

New Dealer Check Up

By Bob Lewellen on 2012-08-08 in Bob's Blog

We bring new dealers into the Kaeser & Blair family every day from all across the country and all walks of life.  Some are starting out in the promotional products and advertising specialties business for the first time and others have been in the business or are involved in businesses that use promotional products.  It’s an exciting time in their lives and the Kaeser family really enjoys helping them to succeed with their new businesses.

We took some time this week to talk to (7) randomly selected dealers about their KB experience so far.   Collectively these dealers come from Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Indiana, and Missouri and none of them had submitted an order to Kaeser & Blair prior to May 2012.  Here’s a few out-takes from our conversations.

Steven Nickels, Kentucky

“It was pretty easy to get going.  Once I got my dealer kit, I just started calling prospects,” says Steven Nickels of Kentucky.  “Talk to as many people as you can, prospects and customer wise and don’t get discouraged when people tell you no.” 

Nickels seeks out new business from companies that already utilize promotional products, “I tell them I can probably save them some money and give them better service than what they are already paying for,” he says.

Donna Salmon, Indiana

“It takes a little time to build a customer base, timing is really crucial in this business,” says Donna Salmon a 20 year marketing veteran who recently made a career switch.  “I love the advertising business, and I love getting out and talking to people and helping their business and building relationships.  I’m to a point in my life where i need the flexibility.  I like being my own boss.”

Kelly Cassidy, Missouri

With a big laugh, Kelly Cassidy said, “It was easy to get started.  All I had to do was send in $85 dollars,” she cheerfully indicated to receive her Dealer Success Kit.  “I realized that the product materials (in the Dealer Success Kit) are very detailed for someone who has no idea what they are getting into,” she said turning serious for a moment. 

“The material will help someone who has never been in sales before, unlike myself, it will help them understand how to prospect for a customer, and how to qualify, and how to target them.  How to communicate with them, all that information was included in there and I was really impressed with that.” 

She was also very impressed with the quality of Kaeser & Blair’s dealer support staff. “Competence, I’m serious.  These people are competent.  They know what they are doing,” she said.

Nicole Campbell, FL

“I’m a work at home Mom,” says Nicole Campbell of Florida, “when you think of ‘stay-at-home-mom’ you think of sweat pants, and stuff and I don’t like that.    I have a home office and I’ve been working at home since I had my daughter.”  Nicole had previously been in the business, but working for a larger company.  She was recruited by an existing KB dealer.  “I knew I could do it and I did, “ she says, “I’d been contemplating it for quite some time.”

“You know it just works.  My daughter goes to school a couple of hours every day.  I do all my quiet stuff then,” Campbell said, “ I joined a bunch of networking groups, I’m big with trying to network and I asked for referrals from everybody that I knew.  I built up my business quickly.”

Tom King, Colorado

When we caught up with Tom King on Tuesday afternoon.  He was at 14,000 feet and enjoying the majestic scenery of the Colorado Rockies.  He was also enjoying one of the greatest benefits of owning and operating a Kaeser & Blair Dealership.  Control of your schedule. 

“It was extremely easy to get started with Kaeser & Blair and that's why I like it,” he said. “It's a very low barrier to entry, they are not intimidating. It's a very good way to go because so many of the other companies intimidate you to much.”  Tom submitted his first order in late May and expects to have sales in the $300,000 range by the end of the year.

Tom enjoys the great variety of products available to Kaeser Dealers and indicated how nice it is to have such a diverse product offering. “I love the best buys catalog, I've been passing them out, I got a bunch of them,” he says indicating that they are a great cold calling tool. 

“They've been very helpful, they take care of me,” said King, “My best summer time money maker is summer t-shirts and festivals.”

Jerry Klinker, Indiana

“We just started in June,” says Jerry Klinker from Indiana, “I’m totally happy with everything that I’ve seen”  Klinker and his colleague Nikki Edwards have also previously been involved with promotional products and are really enjoying the benefits that come from being a part of the Kaeser & Blair dealer family.

“I would say that I can rely on Kaeser & Blair for lots.  I can get a lot more done with my day not having to worry about the orders,” said Ms. Edwards, “because I just know that they are going to handle it and if there is something wrong my Rep will contact me and it’s instantly resolved.  It just saves me a lot more time.”

It was great to catch up with these new dealers, learn more about them and hear their stories of success.  Most of these new dealers will be attending the Dealer Convention in September, so if you see them introduce yourself and congratulate them.   Since May, these new Dealers have collectively submitted well in excess of $75,000.00 in orders and are well on their way towards building successful Kaeser & Blair Dealerships.  

The Difference Between Sales and Marketing

By Bob Lewellen on 2012-06-26 in Bob's Blog

A lot of people consider sales and marketing to be the same thing.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Recognizing the difference between sales and marketing is key to your success as a Kaeser & Blair Dealer. 

Marketing is what you do to make clients come to you, while sales is about you reaching out to people and closing a sale.  They are both important.  Marketing is a longer term commitment and creates a valuable pipeline for months and years to come.  Sales is what’s going to help you pay the rent next week.  Ideally, strong promotional product businesses need a mix of both to keep your cash flow balanced. 

If you’re not balanced here's a few tips for success.

If you’re less focused on sales, you have to have strong marketing.  Reaching out to friends, family and clients for referrals and business is difficult for some of us.  So if you’re not going to have a strong sales focus, you’re going to want to use marketing to stay “top of mind” through activities like e-newsletters, video blogs, and advertisements that demonstrate your expertise.  Getting involved in professional associations and charitable organizations isn’t a bad idea either.  They are good opportunities to interact with potential buyers. 

Business development is an essential duty and requirement when running your promotional products and advertising specialities dealership.  Some say it’s the essential duty.  Marketing can help, but it won’t completely replace the need for sales calls.   This can be a difficult proposition for those of us who are shy or uncomfortable with anything “salesy.”  You have to rewire your brain and become comfortable with the sales process.  Remember, strong sales are built upon good relationships.  Focus yourself on helping a person or business solve a problem rather than focusing on product and price.  Put your fears aside and let your passion and knowledge work to solve your customers problems or needs.  This will help the process to be less “salesy”.

Finally, don’t be afraid to look for help.  There are numerous online resources, books, and professionals that can help you to achieve just the right balance between sales and marketing.

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