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  • Tag Archives Amanda Johns Vaden
  • “I’m Sorry” & Customer Service

    Guest Post By: Amanda Johns Vaden

    While reading  new book that I got turned on to called “#GIRLBOSS” by Sophia Amoruso, one of the things she talks about is how important it is to apologize to your customers when things go wrong. Here’s what I believe when it comes to saying, “I’m sorry,” in regards to customer service.

    I believe that you should always take responsibility when things don’t go right in your company. Many times it’s going to be your fault, and many times it’s not. Regardless, they’re still your customers.

    We’ve all heard that old adage saying, “The customer is always right.” Let’s just be honest, that’s not true. The customer is not always right. But regardless, they are still your customers.

    And here’s what I’ve noticed as a customer and a consumer of many types of things: I don’t hear “I am so sorry” or “Let us fix that for you”. In fact, most times, the person on the other line or the person standing behind the counter is trying to inform me why it was my fault, why this didn’t go right, or trying to give me some logical explanation as to why this happened.

    Here’s what I know about apologizing. The more you try to defend yourself or the more you try to reason, the more defensive the other person’s going to get. Although I don’t necessarily believe that you should be sorry for everything that your customers are unhappy about, here’s what I know:

    The quicker that you respond with a genuine empathetic, “I’m sorry this happened to you,” you’re not saying, “I am sorry we did this. I’m sorry that we failed you.” You are saying, “I am sorry that you feel this way. I am sorry that this was your experience.”

    If you can show genuine empathy quickly, all of the negative attitudes tend to diminish. It’s when we don’t apologize. It’s when we don’t take responsibility. It’s when we don’t make an effort to show our customers that we appreciate them as customers that things turn ugly.

    And let’s just be honest. In the world of social media and online feedback, no one can afford a constant barrage of unhappy customers because if you keep your customers unhappy long enough, you’re just not going to have any customers.

     

    Amanda Johns Vaden is a founding partner, executive coach and senior consultant at Southwestern Consulting. She has worked with over 400 sales offices nationwide. Amanda is the author of the upcoming books Unspoken: Redefining Expectations Between Men and Women in the World of Work and 4-Dimensional Follow up: Increasing Client Retention and Customer Loyalty Through Follow-Up


  • The Root of Objections

    Guest Post By: Amanda Johns Vaden

     

    no

    One of the most important things about the art of answering objections is knowing what objection you are really answering.

    Because typically the number one objection that people give you, is not their real objection. It’s an excuse.

    So how do you determine what the difference between an excuse and an objection is if you are going to be successful in overcoming this?

    First, you must learn how to isolate the objection. This technique is simple but incredibly powerful. It allows you to keep moving forward after someone challenges you with an objection.

    So a very typical objection that you may face can be as simple as, “Well you know what Amanda? This sounds great, but I really need to talk to…” – my business partner, or my spouse, or my parents, friends, dog, or even their great Aunt Berta – “before I can make a decision.”

    Now that might be the real objection, but it might not be. If you really think about it, what are they going to discuss with the other person?

    Something like: Can we afford this? Should we do it? Do we have the time to implement it and do we have the budget to do so? They may talk about something, but it may not be the real objection. So here’s how you isolate the objection.

    The next time that somebody tells you, “I need to talk to (xyz),” respond with, “Hey, I completely understand, Mr./Mrs. Customer. Other than talking to your business partner, is there any reason that you wouldn’t want to move forward with this?”

    Asking them, “other than this” – whatever objection they just gave you – “is there anything else holding you back from moving forward?” gives you the opportunity to see what the real hold up is. If they say no, then, green light, they’re telling you that is the only thing they need to do, so your job is to close on the next step and schedule the next meeting.

    But if they say, “Well actually, what we need to talk about is the budget.” Now, you have the real objection. It’s not talking to their business partner, it’s the money.

    So remember, the first time you hear an objection, isolate the objection. Then you’re one step closer to finding the root of their doubt and closing the sale.

    To learn more you can view the rest of my website here.

     

    Amanda Johns Vaden is a founding partner, executive coach and senior consultant at Southwestern Consulting. She has worked with over 400 sales offices nationwide.  Amanda is the author of the upcoming books Unspoken: Redefining Expectations Between  Men and Women in the World of Work and 4-Dimensional Follow up: Increasing Client Retention and Customer Loyalty Through Follow-Up


  • TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL NETWORKING

    Guest Post By: Amanda Johns Vaden

    To get started, Google networking in your area – for example: “networking Sonoma County” – and search for a site that has links to different networking events in the area.  Go to the Calendars of the various groups and match that up with your schedule, so that you are going to at least 4-8 a month, some in the morning (breakfasts with a guest speaker) and some at night  (the social happy hour types) so you are meeting different kinds of people.

    This is how to not work a room at a networking function.  You will see others doing this:

    1. Grouping with people they already know
    2. Spending too long talking to people who are trying to sell to them
    3. Talking too much when they find someone who is interested
    4. Passing out their business card to everyone without collecting information

    Instead, what you should do is:

    how-wow

    1. Move quickly through the room searching for prospects.  (Like “speed dating”)
    2. Have a Wow How Statement that explains what you do.  (Make sure it is one line only and gets them to ask.  “Wow! How do you do that?”)
    3. Share only enough information with them about what you do to keep them interested.  (When they ask “What is that?” respond with a story of how you helped someone that sells a benefit.)
    4. Collect information.  (Get whatever information that you need. Qualify)
    5.  Aim for finding as many prospects as possible that you can call later to set an appointment.

    What are Wow How Statements?
    They are basically an elevator pitch that makes people say, “Wow, that’s cool. How do you do that?”

    At a networking meeting when someone asks you what you do for a living you don’t want to say, “I sell insurance.”  They think about how they already know many insurance agents and they want to run the other way.  Here are some points to consider:

    When coming up with your ‘Wow-How’ think about the following:

    • What makes me unique?  What is my USP?  (Unique Selling Proposition)
    • How can I be seen as a ‘resource’?
    • What makes me different from everyone else in my industry?
    • What is my goal in this industry?
    • What am I exceptionally good at?
    • Why do people work with me over someone else?
    • What is funny or interesting about me, my company or my industry?

     

    Amanda Johns Vaden is a founding partner, executive coach and senior consultant at Southwestern Consulting. She has worked with over 400 sales offices nationwide.  Amanda is the author of the upcoming books Unspoken: Redefining Expectations Between  Men and Women in the World of Work and 4-Dimensional Follow up: Increasing Client Retention and Customer Loyalty Through Follow-Up


  • The “Boomerang” Sales Technique

    Guest Post By: Amanda Johns Vaden
    boomerang

    One of the most common objections in sales is typically one that can easily throw off your sales presentation entirely. This is because when you hear it, you’re not prepared to answer it…. Yet.

    You’ve all been through a process where you’re just getting started, you’re just asking questions about the potential client’s needs, you get to your presentation, and all of a sudden your prospect cuts you off and says, “Amanda, I’m totally with you, but it’s all going to depend on the price. So just go ahead and just tell me. I need to know what we’re working with here.”

    Before you even get to find their need, before you present value, they’re cutting you off and immediately want to know the price.

    Now that’s a tricky situation because you just can’t evade the question, right? There are people who are going to catch on to that. It’s not going to help you and it’s definitely going to not build trust with your prospective customers.

    But how do you avoid answering that when you’re not prepared to tell them yet? That’s important to remember because upfront you are not prepared to tell them that.

    Because the moment you share the price, poof! Your entire sale just went up in flames because everything they hear after that, it’s all about the money. It’s all about the price.

    You can’t tell them the price until you’ve found a problem. The problem has to be bigger than the price, which is why you can’t tell people how much it is upfront.

    How do you get around it? How do you not completely evade the question, build trust, and eventually get back to it with your customer?

    This is what we call the “boomerang” technique. It’s one of my favorite questions to ask and I love asking it because it’s a game. I use this as a game with myself in all conversations.

    The boomerang is just defined as, “answering any question that you’re not prepared to answer with a question.” If you think about it, any question in the world that you get, can be answered with another question.

    For this specific objection “How much is it,” here is what you want to say, “Hey, I completely understand this is something you want to know and I promise we’re going to get to that. But at this point, I really don’t have enough information to even give you a quote or even guess how much it is. However, if you let me ask you a couple of quick questions, I can get straight to that. Is that fair?”

    In nine out of 10 times they’re going to say, “Sure, that’s fair.”

    So let them know it’s not going to take a long time, you are going to get to it, but you have to cover just a couple of quick things first and then you’ll get right to it. So again, it’s called the boomerang question.

    Answer their questions, their objections with a question so you don’t get off-guard upfront. You want them to focus on their problems and how you can help solve them, not the price.

     

    Amanda Johns Vaden is a founding partner, executive coach and senior consultant at Southwestern Consulting. She has worked with over 400 sales offices nationwide.  Amanda is the author of the upcoming books Unspoken: Redefining Expectations Between  Men and Women in the World of Work and 4-Dimensional Follow up: Increasing Client Retention and Customer Loyalty Through Follow-Up


  • Whether You Believe It or Not, It’s Probably True

    Guest Post By: Amanda Johns Vaden

     

    “Whether You Believe It or Not, It’s Probably True.” That’s actually one of my very favorite quotes because I actually do believe that.

    true

    What I have found in my own personal life is that when I believe I can do something, I typically find a way. If I don’t really believe that something can happen, I rationalize my way out of trying to make it work.

    Have you ever done the same thing?

    Here’s the biggest question for this week’s blog:

    What do you believe that is actually possible in your life?

    Now that’s a really big and somewhat vague question because it could be personal, professional, or about your fitness life. It could even be about your financial life, your career, or your relationships. But the question remains the same.

    What do you believe in your life that you actually think can come true?

    That’s what I want to pause and think about this week.

    It’s Sunday night and I’m actually driving to a study with some of my girlfriends. As I sit and think about that question to myself, one of the things I notice that happens quite often is I immediately go to the realistic.

    I immediately go to things that are already in motion. I already think, “What are things that already have a track to run on and what do I just need to finish?” I wonder about the things that seem possible.

    I rarely think about the things that seem impossible. What are the things that could happen with a little creativity and ingenuity? Who are the people in my life who could help me make impossible things possible?

    Regardless of where you are and what, you believe on this stance here’s one thing I know to be true:

    Mind really does overcome matter.  

    If you believe something, more than likely you can find a way to make that become a reality.

    I also believe the opposite. If you don’t believe something is possible, you’ll never give it enough attention, effort, or resources for it to even become a glimmer of hope in your imagination.

    As you read this blog this week, I hope it helps you challenge your thinking with one thing:

    What is potentially impossible that actually could be possible with a little creativity, a little willpower, and the right people coming together to help you?

     

     

    Amanda Johns Vaden is a founding partner, executive coach and senior consultant at Southwestern Consulting. She has worked with over 400 sales offices nationwide.  Amanda is the author of the upcoming books Unspoken: Redefining Expectations Between  Men and Women in the World of Work and 4-Dimensional Follow up: Increasing Client Retention and Customer Loyalty Through Follow-Up.

    To visit Amanda Johns Vaden’s website, click here.


  • Keys to Successful First Impressions 

    Guest Post By: Amanda Johns Vaden

    impression

    The Harvard Study of Communications said that it only takes seven seconds for you to make a first impression on another human being, only seven seconds. I think that study is so fascinating because of this one little thing. How many words do you really say in seven seconds?

    Do a seven-second countdown in your head right now.

    I bet you got out something like I did which was “Hi, it’s so nice to meet you. My name’s Amanda.” That took about 4 seconds

    What else could we possibly say in the next three seconds that’s going to make some overwhelmingly positive first impression?  The truth is probably not a whole lot.

    In fact, one of the parts of this study actually says that 38% of what makes up a first impression is how you sound. Only 7% of a first impression are the words you say. So all together, only 45% of a first impression has anything to do with the words coming out of your mouth.  That leaves 55% of a first impression to visual. It’s how you look, it’s how you dress. It’s how you stand, it’s how you shake a hand. It’s if you make solid eye contact. It’s your personal appearance.

    So many times, we focus on what to say to make a first impression. Well, studies show it’s not as much what you say, and again only 7% of the first impression had anything to do with the words that you say.

    Pay attention, very acutely, to how you spend those first seven seconds that will visually capture your prospect or customer.

    Do you stand up to greet them? Do you make eye contact with them? Do you immediately smile at them? How are you dressed? How are you standing? Do you stand up straight and confident? Do you remain seated? Do you shake their hand, or do you hug them? Do you light up with excitement? Or is it just an expected, “Hey, how are you?”

    You may be thinking those little things don’t make a difference, but they do. Don’t let your first impression be you texting someone else, and those first seven seconds are gone in a glimmer. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Be prepared that when they come in, that they have a visual first impression of you that’s going to last.

    Make your first impression count.

     

    Amanda Johns Vaden is a founding partner, executive coach and senior consultant at Southwestern Consulting. She has worked with over 400 sales offices nationwide.  Amanda is the author of the upcoming books Unspoken: Redefining Expectations Between  Men and Women in the World of Work and 4-Dimensional Follow up: Increasing Client Retention and Customer Loyalty Through Follow-Up.


  • 3 Natural By-Products of Staying in Touch with Your Customers  

    Guest Post By: Amanda Johns Vaden

    The most inexpensive way for you to get more business is to sell to existing clients.

    Existing clients are more likely to give you referrals to more potential leads. And it’s easier to up-sell an existing client when you do it for the right reasons and at the right time. In fact, studies have shown that it takes three times more money and effort to find new prospects as it does to just keep the ones you have. We’re going to share with you three reasons why following-up with clients is crucial and essential to the success of selling.

    Show Gratitude:

    • It’s important to follow-up just to say, “Thank you.” It’s amazing how those two little words can incredibly change the trajectory of your client relationship. When your customers know that you are appreciative and grateful for their business, it creates loyalty.
    • Whether you do it with a handwritten card, a gift, a phone call, or an email, just make sure that you are authentic and consistent when saying thank you. Never underestimate the power of the written word or hearing something on a regular basis.

    Minimize Buyer’s Remorse

    • Make sure that you follow-up quickly because the quicker you follow-up, the less likely someone is to change their mind.
    • You want to do it immediately upfront. You want to create that sense of urgency as if to say, “I am here for you and you made a good choice.”
    • Stay constant in your follow-up so that you can help address challenges before they ever become problems. If you follow-up on a regular basis and you find out things aren’t working, whether their prices increased, their policy changed or taxes are going to be higher on something, whatever it is, if you catch it, you’re just doing them a service. But if they catch it, it’s a problem.

    Gain Word of Mouth Advertising

    • Having a good relationship with your customers isn’t just good for business; it also increases the amount of positive word of mouth. With the over-abundance of social media sites, there’s too much opportunity to spread bad news.
    • You have to make sure they are sharing good news. Unfortunately, most people are seven times more likely to share bad news than they are good news. If you follow-up consistently, you can build word of mouth prospects and generate word of mouth advertising.

    Now that you know why it’s important to follow up, you have all the more reason to begin doing it!

     

    Amanda Johns Vaden is a founding partner, executive coach and senior consultant at Southwestern Consulting. She has worked with over 400 sales offices nationwide.  Amanda is the author of the upcoming books Unspoken: Redefining Expectations Between  Men and Women in the World of Work and 4-Dimensional Follow up: Increasing Client Retention and Customer Loyalty Through Follow Up


  • Three Things that I Wish I Knew Before I Started Selling

    Guest Post By: Amanda Johns Vaden

    Something that most people don’t know is that our company, Southwestern Consulting, is actually the training and consulting arm of a much larger corporation known as The Southwestern Company. In fact, The Southwestern Company is the oldest direct selling company in the entire United States.

    We’ve been around for just shy of 160 years but I’ve been in the sales profession for only 10 years and what I have realized is that I wish I had another 150 years of experience to prepare me for the daily ups and downs of being a professional salesperson. In light of that I thought I would share 3 simple, but impactful tips I wish I knew before I started in sales almost 10 years ago:

    1. It’s harder than it sounds – I really wish I knew how hard I was going to have to work. I knew that being in sales wouldn’t be easy but I wish I knew how hard it was going to be as a salesperson. I wish somebody would have sat down and told me.

    “You’re going to have to have a lot of perseverance. You’re going to have to be very persistent. You’re going to have to work when you don’t want to. You’re going to have to work longer hours than you thought. Sometimes you’re going to have to  work on weekends. Sometimes you’re going to have to miss parties, and events, and weddings, because you’re going to have to work.”

    I wish I would’ve been prepared so that when it came time to work that hard, I didn’t get upset. That I didn’t resent the fact that this was my job.

    I’ve finally learned how to really love the daily grind of working hard and today I really take pride in the fact I’m part of a job that I’m so passionate about it doesn’t feel like work.

    But many times as a salesperson, we start to feel unbalanced because we didn’t have the proper expectations of how hard we’re going to have to work.

     

    2. You have to want to be better each and every day – Being a great salesperson means it’s a never ending pursuit of learning. And again, like working hard, I really learned to love that about what I do at Southwestern Consulting. I am very blessed to be a part of an entire company who is passionate about learning and self-development.

    However, when I first started in this job one of the first things I was most excited about was, “I can’t wait ’til I know what I’m doing so I don’t have to study so hard anymore.”

    Guess what, I’m still not there. Almost 10 years later, I’m still not there.

    I wish I would’ve known that the books that I read were going to teach me more than any classes I ever attended in college. I wish somebody would’ve said, “Buy these books. Listen to these audio trainings. Go to these seminars. Find mentors. Get a coach. Find an accountability partner.  Study hard. Really be a student of the game. Listen to people. Ask for advice. Be a never ending learner.”

    work-in-progress (1)

    3. I will never arrive at being at the top of my game – For 10 yrs I have looked forward to the day when I have “finally arrived” only to realize that day does not exist and ultimately should not exist in my mind. The moment I actually think I have arrived will be the day I need a reality check.

    Every day I have to push aside what I think is right and to listen to others. I have to be coachable. Learning to be flexible is never easy, but being stubborn doesn’t help anyone. Be open to trying new things, even when you think you know everything…. Because, guess what, you don’t … but, neither does anyone else.

    Whether it’s your first day in sales or your first year or you’re a long time veteran and you’ve been selling for 50 plus years, it doesn’t matter. Those three things never change. You have to work hard, study hard, and be coachable if you’re going to succeed at anything.

     

    Amanda Johns Vaden is a founding partner, executive coach and senior consultant at Southwestern Consulting. She has worked with over 400 sales offices nationwide.  Amanda is the author of the upcoming books Unspoken: Redefining Expectations Between  Men and Women in the World of Work and 4-Dimensional Follow up: Increasing Client Retention and Customer Loyalty Through Follow Up


  • Selling to Baby Boomers

    Baby boomers are one of the largest generations currently in the US workforce.

    Large portions of them are the decision makers in their workplace. Meaning that a vast majority of the decision makers are between the ages of 50 and 70.

    How do we sell, communicate, and build relationships with this generation?

    The first thing you need to know is that their preferred, number one form of communication is the telephone.

    This generation is busy, some of the busiest people in all the generations. They are running businesses, sales teams, marketing departments. They travel. They have executive decision-making power.

    Conference calls and scheduling one on one calls are some of the best ways to reach them. Also, leaving voicemails is very effective with this generation.

    The second fact about the Baby Boomer generation is that they are still the number one generation most likely to open, read, and respond to direct mail.

    That’s right, snail mail, people. They’re actually looking at all that stuff the U.S. Postal Service is sending and putting in our mailboxes.

    >> Click here to continue reading on Amanda Johns Vaden’s blog <<


  • Selling to the Mature Generation

    How do you sell and communicate to a market with multiple generations?

    Today is the first time in U.S. history that we have four completely different generations all working together in the exact same workforce.

    So what do you need to know when selling or just communicating to the mature generation?

    The mature generation is technically defined as those people age 70 and up.

    Knowing this alone, it’s safe to say they are the most loyal generation.

    I’ve heard many people say that they are tagged as the Cadillac generation because people of this generation have had every version of the Cadillac since it came out. They are loyal to the brand.

    How do you use that to your advantage? Do a good job, be honest, and they will be loyal to you.

    What’s most important to them is relationships. You have to change the way you communicate with them. Texting, emails, and phone calls won’t do it for them.

    You need to do it in person. As much as possible, you need to meet with the mature generation in person.

    >> Click here to continue reading on Amanda Johns Vaden’s blog <<