by For the MBJ
Published: August 23,2004
How are you doing?
“Fine” or “great” you might say. Easy answer — even if it’s not true.
Where are you?
“What do you mean?” will most likely be your reply.
Here’s what I mean: Where are you in your market? Where are you in your customer relationships? Where are you in your career? Those “where” questions make you think. Those questions can cause pain. But they’re not as painful as the ones I asked last week, and the ones I’m about to ask.
The best way to know where you are in your marketplace is to evaluate yourself. Ask yourself tough questions. And answer them without being defensive and without any excuses. Give real answers.
It appears that the toughest answers in sales are the ones you have to answer yourself, and I’m about to prove it.
If you want to be successful, you need to ask yourself the following questions. The answers will tell you what you need to know, so when you come calling, people will ask you in and buy. Better yet, people will call you in time of need.
Last week I gave you five questions to ask yourself. Here are the rest:
6. How many marketing dollars are spent on existing customers?
Marketing for new customers while the old ones are leaving? Most companies spend millions on soliciting new customers, and pennies on servicing or retaining them. Success questions: How many policies make it more difficult to do business with you? How many customers did you lose last year? How much are you investing in customer retention?
7. Does your competition hate you?
If competitors hate you, it means you are taking food out of their mouths, sales off of their tables and dollars out of their markets and into yours. If your competitors hate you, your product or service must be so superior that you command a premium in the marketplace for value delivered (not “price matched”). Success question: How can you position yourself so you differentiate yourself with value (anything other than price)?
8. Where is the service?
Come to the reality that every person on your team who talks with someone outside your business (vendor, customer, future employee or prospect) is affecting your reputation, your customer base, your sales, your revenue and your profit. If your people are not serving customers in a memorable way at every encounter, your customers will chose to spend their dollars elsewhere in your market. Serve memorably.
Success questions: How are you improving your service? How well do you respond and recover from complaints? Are your customers satisfied or loyal?
9. Is your work a job, a rut or a career?
In 1911, John Patterson, the father of American salesmanship and the founder of the National Cash Register Company, uttered the timeless phrase, “Put your heart into your work.”
If you heart is not in your work, it is likely that you have confused a job with a career, a paycheck with earnings and satisfaction with fulfillment. My adaptation of what Patterson said nearly a hundred years later is: “Love it or leave it.” Success questions: How dedicated are you to your company? How deep is your belief in what you do? How much do you love what you do?
10. Are you working on yourself as much as you are working on your product knowledge?
How much time do you spend on writing skills, editing skills, personal development skills, selling skills and customer service skills? Looking for a formula? Spend as much time building your skills as you do using them. Success questions: How dedicated are you to your study of sales and personal development? Are you the student you should be?
10.5. It’s a family, not a team.
Once you recognize that you are all members of the same family, working toward the same goal, while maintaining family unity in the face of every conflict known to humans, you will have uncovered the secret to harmony, great morale, higher productivity and profitability.
Success questions: How are you treating the members of your “family”? How is management treating “family” members?
Not as hard as the alternatives
Well, there you have them. Ten questions and a new way of looking at the people you work with.
These are hard questions that result in honest answers, but not as hard as losing customers or losing business to the competition.
Ask these questions and uncover your own answers. Once you do, the road to success will be traffic free.
Free GitBit: Missed the article last week? Go to www.gitomer.com and enter TOUGH QUESTIONS in the GitBit box. You’ll get both parts.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail
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