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99 Skills of 21st Century Market Place : Week 27

Week 27 of the 99 Skills of the 21st Century Marketplace is Here! This week we focus on three critical Sales Skills: Sales Tecniques, Customer Service & Product Knowledge. These are fundamental for enhancing customer experience and sales revenue. Let us delve into strategies, techniques, and exercises to develop and enhance these Sales skills. These qualities, essential for building strong customer relationships and long term business success. Mastering these skills empowers individuals to excel sales and provide exceptional customer service, impact their organizations and communities positively, and ensure long-term success, fostering personal growth and meaningful contributions. Join us as we explore these vital sales skills and share your thoughts on the 99 Skills because the 100th is You!

79. Sales Techniques

A Quote:

A salesperson tells, a good salesperson explains, and a great salesperson demonstrates. - Harvey Mackay

A Definition: Sales techniques are strategies and methods used by sales professionals to persuade, influence, and ultimately convince potential customers to purchase a product or service. These techniques often involve effective communication, relationship-building, and problem-solving to meet customer needs and close deals successfully.

An Example:

In 2010, IBM introduced the "Smarter Cities" initiative, which aimed to provide technology solutions to cities to enhance their efficiency, sustainability, and overall quality of life. The challenge was to persuade city governments to invest in these solutions.

IBM employed data-driven presentations to address each city's unique challenges and opportunities. They provided tailored, data-backed solutions, demonstrating a commitment to meeting individual needs. IBM offered proof of concept trials, allowing cities to see the real-world benefits of their solutions before committing, building trust in their technology.IBM fostered collaboration with local businesses, universities, and community organizations, aligning stakeholders' interests and showcasing their commitment to working with the community. They emphasized the long-term benefits of their Smarter Cities initiative, focusing on cost savings, improved services, and an enhanced quality of life over time. This long-term vision encouraged cities to invest in a better future.

IBM's Smarter Cities initiative has been a remarkable success. They secured contracts with cities like Rio de Janeiro, New York, and Memphis, highlighting the broad appeal of their approach. The cities that adopted IBM's solutions experienced tangible improvements in transportation, public safety, energy efficiency, and overall quality of life for their residents. This success underscores the effectiveness of IBM's sales techniques and the substantial benefits of the Smarter Cities initiative for all stakeholders involved.

A Checklist:

  1. Thoroughly understand the customer's challenges and goals.

  2. Actively listen to their concerns and requirements.

  3. Clearly and persuasively communicate the value of your product or service.

  4. Tailor your message to resonate with the customer's needs.

  5. Establish a positive and trustworthy relationship with the customer.

  6. Engage in active, empathetic communication.

  7. Be well-versed in your product's features, benefits, and applications.

  8. Effectively convey this knowledge to the customer.

  9. Prepare to address customer concerns and objections.

  10. Provide compelling responses to overcome objections.

  11. Have a clear strategy for closing the sale.

  12. Ask for the customer's commitment or decision.

  13. Utilize sales technology and tools to enhance your sales efforts.

  14. Leverage customer relationship management (CRM) systems, data analytics, and other tech resources.

  15. Identify and highlight what makes your product or service stand out from competitors, and articulate the unique value it offers to the customer

80. Customer Service

A Quote:

“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.”-Michael LeBoeuf

A Definition: Customer service is the provision of assistance, support, and solutions to meet the needs and inquiries of customers, ensuring a positive and satisfactory experience.

An Example:

Zappos is an online shoe and clothing retailer known for its exceptional customer service. In 2009, the company made headlines for a remarkable customer service story. A Zappos customer, who was a best man in a wedding, ordered a pair of shoes for the event but received them late due to a courier error. He called Zappos to explain the urgency and disappointment since the wedding was just a day away.

In this exceptional customer service case by Zappos, three key elements stand out. Firstly, the Zappos representative exhibited empathy and active listening, immediately understanding and acknowledging the significance of the customer's predicament. Secondly, rather than providing a standard solution like a refund or expedited shipping, Zappos went above and beyond by arranging for a local courier to swiftly deliver a replacement pair of shoes from a nearby store. This ensured that the customer received the shoes well in advance of the urgent wedding. Lastly, to further enhance the customer's experience, Zappos pleasantly surprised and delighted the customer by upgrading them to a Zappos VIP account, granting expedited shipping and return benefits at no extra cost. This extraordinary commitment to customer satisfaction not only resolved the immediate issue but also garnered widespread recognition, solidifying Zappos' reputation for exceptional customer service.

The customer's highly positive experience with Zappos was not only limited to the immediate resolution of their issue but extended to a broader impact. Their story of exceptional service resonated with others, spreading widely and serving as a compelling example of Zappos' unwavering commitment to exceeding customer expectations. In addition to receiving the perfect shoes for the wedding, the customer was deeply impressed by Zappos' unmatched dedication to ensuring customer satisfaction. This commitment to excellence in customer service contributed significantly to Zappos' reputation for outstanding service, fostering customer loyalty and driving the company's growth in the long term.

A Checklist:

  1. Use clear, prompt communication.

  2. Show empathy and understanding towards customer concerns.

  3. Respond promptly through various channels.

  4. Be well-informed about products or services.

  5. Effectively address customer inquiries and issues.

  6. Efficiently resolve customer issues and provide follow-up.

  7. Offer accessible and professional service.

  8. Maintain courtesy and respect in all interactions.

  9. Ensure consistent quality across all interactions.

  10. Tailor service to individual customer needs.

  11. Respond and resolve inquiries promptly.

  12. Collect and use customer feedback for improvement.

  13. Empower representatives to make decisions.

  14. Provide continuous training and development.

  15. Offer multilingual support when needed.

81. Product Knowledge

A Quote:

“Product knowledge is the foundation upon which we build our ability to sell.” - Steve W. Brown

A Definition: Product knowledge is a deep understanding of the features, benefits, and applications of a product or service, enabling effective communication and sales by addressing customer needs and inquiries.

An Example:

IKEA is a global furniture retailer known for its self-service approach. This case study highlights how product knowledge is integrated into its retail model. A customer visits an IKEA store to purchase a new living room sofa but is overwhelmed by the array of options and configurations.

IKEA effectively utilizes product knowledge in its retail model by providing a comprehensive array of tools and resources for customers. In their stores, clear and detailed product information, including descriptions, dimensions, materials, and pricing, is readily available on display tags. Moreover, IKEA's staff members possess a deep understanding of the product range, offering valuable assistance, addressing inquiries, and suggesting design solutions. Furthermore, IKEA extends its product knowledge to the digital realm through its website and mobile app, allowing customers to explore products, check availability, and plan their purchases conveniently. This multi-faceted approach empowers customers to make informed decisions, fosters a self-service shopping experience, and contributes to overall customer satisfaction.

The results of the customer's experience at IKEA highlight the success of its product knowledge integration. By providing a wealth of detailed information both in-store and online, IKEA empowers customers to make well-informed choices. Interactions with the knowledgeable staff further enhance the decision-making process, offering guidance and design suggestions. Consequently, IKEA's product knowledge-driven approach cultivates a sense of customer self-reliance and autonomy, ultimately contributing to high levels of customer satisfaction.

This case study illustrates how IKEA's approach to product knowledge helps customers navigate a wide range of options and fosters a sense of self-service while ensuring a positive shopping experience.

A Checklist:

  1. Understand the fundamental features and specifications of the product.

  2. Be aware of how the product is used, its practical applications, and potential benefits.

  3. Identify what sets the product apart from competitors.

  4. Know which products or services complement or are compatible with the one you're selling.

  5. Understand the customer demographics and preferences that the product caters to.

  6. Be prepared to answer frequently asked questions about the product.

  7. Stay updated on pricing, discounts, and any ongoing promotions related to the product.

  8. Familiarize yourself with different versions or models of the product.

  9. If applicable, understand the technical specifications and functionalities of the product.

  10. Be aware of warranty terms, post-sales support, and customer service contacts.

  11. Know the products offered by competitors and how your product outperforms them.

  12. Be informed about customer feedback and reviews, both positive and negative.

  13. Stay updated on industry trends and how the product aligns with these developments.

  14. If possible, have hands-on experience with the product to demonstrate its usage.

  15. Understand any legal regulations or compliance standards associated with the product.

Come & Collaborate

Thank you for joining us on this journey through 99 skills at the 21st-century workplace. We believe that the key to success is continuous learning, so we encourage you to keep seeking out new knowledge and skills.

To help you on your path, we are offering a special #DISCovery Session for our readers. This one-on-one coaching session will help you identify your strengths, set career goals, and progress to a personalized plan for success. To book your session, go to a and use the code "99SKILLS" for a special discount.


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