15 years ago Bill Stuart and I started Stuart & Associates. It was a gamble but we both felt we had something to bring to the industry. The fact that we have lasted 15 years and have continued relationships with great clients is a testament to our entire team. We just wanted to take this opportunity to thank our loyal clients. Without partners like you this milestone would never have been reached. Bill and I would also like to thank the entire Stuart & Associates team. Great people that make a difference every single day. I would also like to personally thank Bill for taking a chance on a young kid when he started this endeavor. I could not have asked for a better business partner...or friend. Thanks to you all.
Stuart & Associates
Originally published in Twice Magazine
Christmas is coming, and I'm sure that once again a leading consumer advocacy magazine or television news show will take another shot at the extended-warranty business.
As someone who has spent more than 20 years training retailers on how to successfully sell extended-service plans (ESPs), I'm always amazed that these outlets consistently display their prejudice and lack of knowledge toward the service-contract industry as a whole.
Originally published in Twice Magazine
It seems like everybody wants to “repackage” or “re-brand” the sales process these days. They call the sales process anything and everything but “Sales”. It also seems that everybody wants to re-title salespeople anything other than “Salespeople.”
They are referred to as “Customer Service Rep”, “Customer Relationship Advisor”, “Service Counselor”, “Customer Experience Team Member”, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for customer service, creating a great customer experience, and making the salespeople feel “warm and fuzzy” about their title and their job, but it is a sales process and they are salespeople. When did “sales” and “salespeople” become dirty words?
It’s a noble profession, when done right, but maybe that’s part of the problem, often enough these days, it’s not being done right. Today, a great salesperson is as rare a find as financially stable retailers! Could it be that all these “Customer Relationship Advisors” don’t realize that they are in sales since it’s not part of their title?
What about the sales process? Do they even understand the basics of selling? Do you think that they even own a book on selling or the sales process? Speaking of books, I read a sales book not too long ago in which the author explained that he was against all systems of selling. His rationale was that selling systems focus on the “sales process,” which he deemed bad. I’ve spent over thirty years perfecting and teaching the sales process. I’m a big fan of it!
Maybe I’m “Old School”, but I like actually being “Greeted” by someone when I walk into their store. More often than not, I’m the one that does the “Greeting”, and judging from the reactions that I get, I must not be very good at it. I guess I need to find some better way to get their attention without interrupting their personal conversations with other “Customer Sensitivity Professionals”.
Moving through the sales process, I’m never offended if they take the time to properly “Qualify” me, I’m funny that way.I actually think it’s easier to sell me the right product when you take the time to ask some questions about my lifestyle and my use of the product. Walking me around and reading all the fact tags may seem to be low pressure, but it’s one of the quickest ways to end our “relationship”. What happened to learning the product? When I used to sell, that’s right “sell” I took the time to actually learn how the stuff worked so I could demonstrate it to the customer.
Now that I think of it, I can’t even remember the last time I got a fantastic product “Demonstration”. Wait, to be truthful I do remember. I was buying a pair of shoes and the “Salesperson” was trying to “sell” me some waterproofing. She pulled a tissue out of a tissue box on the counter, sprayed it with water proofing, showed me how to hold it between my two hands, and proceeded to pour water on it from a cup she had behind the counter. I was amazed that the water ran right off the tissue without soaking in at all. She skillfully commented at that very moment, “Imagine how it will protect your leather.” All I could say was “wow”. As a professional “salesperson”, she correctly recognized my comment as a buying signal and proceeded to the next step in the sales process.
She “Closed” the sale by recommending that I get two cans of waterproofing with my new shoes. SOLD! Now that’s selling! I felt like throwing a fake “objection” her way just to see her work, but I didn’t have the heart. I also recognize that her time is money, as did she, since she was already starting the sales process by “Greeting” another customer while she rang me up. She was a true salesperson that really understood, that done right; the sales process will create a great customer experience, deliver exceptional customer service and forge a lasting relationship. If you are wondering what her title was, her name tag just said “SALES”.