Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Observations from Art

From Art Sobczak:

Sales Observations from the US Open,
and the Road


Some general sales observations this week.

An Attitude of a Champion
I was at the US Open golf tournament Saturday in
New York. A great atmosphere, and the course is
as beautiful as it looks on TV, even when it was wet,
as we experienced.

I followed the finish on Monday on TV from my office,
and was rooting for both Phil Mickelson and David Duval,
who both ended tied for second. Phil was classy as he
always is, after a win or otherwise. I was particularly
impressed with Duval. After having been the number
one player in the world prior to Tiger Woods taking
over that position around 10 years ago or so, he had
some struggles and hasn't been much of a factor for
quite some time. In fact, his ranking coming into the
Open was 882.

Yet, in his interview after his final round, in which was
tied for the lead with two holes to play, he said,

"I stand before you certainly happy with how I played,
but extremely disappointed in the outcome. I had no
question in my mind I was going to win the golf tournament

Wow, that's the attitude of a champion, which is what it
takes to win one. Believing that you can. Already seeing
it your mind's eye.

That's also the attitude of the best salespeople I have ever
been around. They EXPECT success. It's not a surprise
when it happens.

Learning From the Airlines--What NOT to Do
On the way back from the tournament, my three buddies
and I needed to get our seat assignments at the airport gate.

It was a little commuter jet on Delta, which I don't have status
on, so they were not offering complimentary First Class.
But they did advertise on the video board that we could pay
to upgrade.

Given a rather fun and tiring weekend with the boys and
feeling the effects of having seen a number of pubs in Manhattan,
and the fact that none of us looked forward to cramming our
legs under the Barbie-doll-sized seats in front of us, I persuaded
the guys all to spend the extra cash to upgrade.

So I gave the gate agent my ticket to process the upgrade. Then
he tells me that he can't do it, since my ticket "was not eligible."

What? A $330 one-way ticket was not eligible to upgrade?

That's right, he said.

"How many First Class seats do you have available?"

"Eight," he replied.

"Let me get this right. I want to give you $75 per guy, $300 total to
buy four seats that will otherwise go empty, and you won't let me do it?"

"The computer won't let me do it," he reluctantly replied.

I asked who was authorized to get us upgraded and he said to
check with the flight attendant as we boarded.

So I did, explained the situation, and without dragging this story out
longer than I have, she moved us into the empty First Class seats.

No charge.

Lessons here?

1. Are there any stupid policies at your company that you can
influence, that affect a customer's ability to do business with you
when they clearly are trying to hand you money?

2. Ask for what you want. They certainly were not going to OFFER
to move us into First Class without us initiating the request.

3. Be persistent and find out who can make a decision if you
get stalled by someone who can't.


More Not-to-Do's From the Airlines
Speaking of the airlines, if you've flown anything other than Southwest
lately you probably have been nickel-and-dimed (or $5 and $25'd) by
the extra fees for checking bags, bad snacks, and more.

United expects to rake in more than $1 BILLION this year alone from
these fees. Two airlines are even adding a "fee on top of a fee,"
charging $5 MORE for a bag if you pay at the counter, providing
an option to do it online. They put a ridiculous spin on it, calling it
an "online discount."

All of this, of course infuriates their customers. Fares fluctuate all
of the time and people realize that. Why not just build their required
increases into the fares so we don't feel like we are being nicked
with all of the extras?

(UPS does this also with their commercial customers, by the way,
and it makes my blood boil with all of their inane extra fees.)

Sales point: as a salesperson, you might or might not be able to
control the pricing to your customers. If you do, keep in mind the

One other thing you probably can do is when you prepare a
proposal or quote, be sure to detail the items and services that
you might be including as extras, and under the pricing column
put the regular price with a line through it, and "No Charge."
This helps them understand the value of what extras they
might be getting.


Recovering from a Bug Experience
Another travel story with a sales/service point. I stayed at a
Staybridge Suites in Dallas last week while doing an in-house
seminar for the great pros at The Insurance Exchange.

The hotel was newer, nice, and seemingly clean. I awoke
very early to get some writing done on my computer at the
workdesk in the room and noticed something crawling on my hand.

A couple of ants.

Ok, not a big deal, I took care of them.

Then there were a few more.

It happened again until I couldn't handle it anymore, and needed
to leave anyway. Waiting in line to checkout, I noticed the cheery
front desk person asking each customer,

"So how was your stay with us?"

I was prepared. When I was posed the question, I leaned over and
whispered so as to not make a scene and let her know about the ants.

Without breaking stride she replied,

"Oh, sorry to hear that. We'll try to make sure your stay is better
next time."

Huh? It's as if she did not hear what I said and gave the same
response she probably gives all day.

I understand that problems happen, and wasn't expecting to get
my room comped, but perhaps I thought they would make some
effort to recover from the obviously creepy experience.

At the very minimum, some satisfaction that they would do something
about the ants!

Sales/service point: what do you do (or your company) when there
is a screw-up that is not the customer's fault, but inconveniences
them in some way?

My policy here is to regularly include something free with an order,
a CD, a book...something unexpected that overdelivers in addition to
making up for a mistake. Little things can mean a lot.

Go and Have Your Best Week Ever!


Quote of the Week
"Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way."
Booker T. Washington

Contact: Art Sobczak, President, Business By Phone Inc. 13254 Stevens St.,
Omaha, NE 68137,
(402) 895-9399. Or,

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