Three times just lately, I have made contact with someone through social media and expressed an interest in what they do. Each time they have message me and promised to send me some information. And each time, they have failed to deliver! Are they aware this is a classic way of losing clients?
Now, perhaps they are getting so many messages they don’t need my business and aren’t interested in me. But if that is the case, then just tell me in the first place. Bad news travels far faster than good and if anyone ever asks me about any of these businesses, I will not hesitate to tell others not to bother with them.
And quite frankly, it is just bad manners.
It could, of course, be a case that they have simply forgotten. But if that is the case, it is even worse for their business as they are missing out on potential income and are losing clients who could go on to be quite profitable for them. If you are busy and cannot deal with enquiries immediately, ensure you have a system set up to remind you to send out information that you have promised to. If you have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, then great. Enter details into there and allocate yourself a task. At the simplest end, have a paper diary and make a note in there.
At the top of most customer’s lists, by far, when dealing with a company is that they keep their word. So if you promise something and then fail to deliver you will not only be losing clients, you will also lose your business reputation.
Regardless of how this mismanagement of your potential clients affects your business, think how it affects them. There is a saying that it is not what you say to someone, but it is how you make them feel. By promising something and then never getting in contact again, you may make the person feel undervalued and worthless. There is a real danger that some of these people may be having a tough time in their personal life and this ‘small’ omission on your part, could add to their feelings of worthlessness. I am writing this because I have seen this happen, and until I did, I didn’t realise the impact that we, as small business owners can have on other people’s lives. A simple thing that we don’t think really matters, can have a huge impact on the person at the other end.
I am not saying that you have to responsibility for other people’s personal issues, but I am saying stop and think when making promises you are not going to keep. Next time someone asks you for something, think twice before blindly saying you will send something on or do something. Be realistic. Tell them if you are too busy. Tell them if you don’t think you can supply what they want, when they want, or even if you don’t think they are the right client for you.
Being honest could stop you losing clients and save both your business reputation and hurt feelings for your lost client.
Today I flagged up to a company that I had recommended quite a few people to them and a couple of these had sent emails to make bookings but had received no response. I was informed by the business owner that he did not have time to check his emails as he had an overflowing inbox and people should phone if they want to get in contact.
To say I was dumbfounded is to put it politely. I gently tried to point out how many opportunities he may be missing out on but the response was that his phone number was on his website, Facebook page and business cards so people should use that.
So my next question was why on earth bother putting on contact details of an email address if you have no intention of checking it.
I was hoping to be able to tell you that this is a rare occurrence with small businesses but unfortunately it is not. All too often I come across small businesses with an overflowing inbox that is having a detrimental effect on their business. I know of another business advisor who had been sent a number of clients to speak to. When I asked them why they had not been in contact, they again told me they had too many emails to trawl through so just picked out the most important looking ones.
Please do not let your emails get out of control and fall into this dangerous trap. You never know that an absolute golden nugget may be sat amongst them, hidden from view, and that you let slip by. Don’t bury your head in the sand and think people will make the effort to contact you in another format after a couple of failed attempts. There is plenty of competition out there folks and if your competitor can be bothered to check their emails, then quite frankly, they deserve the business.
The business owner in question took the attitude that if someone was serious about doing business with him, then they would use alternative avenues and make more effort to get in contact with him. My attitude is that if you are serious about building your business and gaining a good reputation, you will make the most of every opportunity to engage with potential clients and make it as easy as possible for them to get in contact with you. And if you give out an email address as a form of contact, people will expect a response if they send you a message.
If you don’t want an overflowing inbox and want to know how to get your emails under control and keep them that way so you don’t ever miss a potential client, drop me a comment below and I will send you an article on ‘How to keep your email inbox under control.’
Social media automation
There are so many tools out there today that can save us time and make scheduling social media posts so much easier. But are they always effective?
I have always used Buffer on the free programme that only allowed me to schedule up to 10 posts at any one time. Last week I decided to try Hootsuite as with this software you can schedule as many posts as you like. I sat and scheduled a variety of posts for the next week. I then sat back and gave myself a pat on the back and felt more relaxed that I didn’t need to blog into Buffer every day to keep it topped up.
But what happened?
The reach on my posts dropped from 500+ to less than 50. The interactions on my posts dried up. But why?
I stopped and thought about this as it couldn’t possibly be the fault of Hootsuite. I must have done something differently.
And then it hit me.
With scheduling just a few posts at a time, I was taking more time with each and injecting a bit more of my personality into each. Scheduling up to 50 at a time made me lose my enthusiasm and I just posted the bare bones, facts and links. Quite frankly, they were boring!
So whilst using social media automation and having the ability to post weeks in advance can save a daily check, be careful that you don’t fall into the trap that I did and they all start to become over automated and somewhat mundane.
People buy people first and without your own comments and injection of personality you are in danger of turning into just another faceless site.
So be careful folks. If you are going to schedule lots of posts at once, do it when your energy levels are high and you have enough interesting comments to make. And remember that any industry news you schedule may well be out of date by the time your post appears.
I will most certainly use Hootsuite again when I am going to be away for a few days or on holiday for a week or so, but personally I am going to stick to Buffer for day to day posts where I can give something fresh to my posts each day.
Finally, please make sure that if you do automate for periods in advance that you still check in each day to your social media channels to respond to any interaction on your page. There is nothing worse than putting in all the hard work for someone to ask you a question and they then get ignored. This has happened to me when I asked a question of a business and I never got a response. I ended up unfollowing the business in question as I felt they couldn’t be bothered to get back to me and so didn’t want my custom. What a waste of their effort and time.
What works for you? What social media automation do you use? Let me know over on the Facebook page.
We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.
I have had to make a great deal of calls over the last few days for a number of reasons and one thing has struck me. The complete inability of people to listen to what I was saying.
Now you could say that as the inability to listen was a recurring theme, the problem could be at my end but without burying my head in the sand, I believe I speak clearly and can explain my needs very simply.
I took extra care with the last few calls trying to find a supplier, yet still, after I explained what I needed, was still met with a barrage of questions that had already been answered. In fact, on one call, the woman asked me the same question no less than five times! I ended up asking her if she had a pen and if so, would she mind writing down my answers so we did not keep going over old ground. Hasten, to say, I will not be purchasing from her.
We were all born (or most of us anyway), with two ears and one mouth. We really should try to use them in proportion. When someone calls to ask about your product or service, there is a tendency to get rather over excited at the prospect of a new sale and start to tell them everything there is to know about your offering, when all they need to know is what is relevant to them and their particular situation. Let them speak and explain their needs, and whilst they are doing so, shut up and listen! You can then explain just the areas of your business that will benefit them which will help build a trust and relationship where they realise you are doing your best to help them.
The more you allow a prospect to talk, the more important they will feel and they will know you have taken the time to hear what they want. If you constantly talk over them and then ask basic questions that you would have heard if you had listened properly, you are likely to make them feel either irritated or not important and as a result likely to lose their custom.
And following on from this point, and what I always teach in sales training, is that when you have given someone some information, give them time to digest it. Let there be a few moments of silence to absorb what you have said. You don’t have to jump in and keep talking to fill the silence. Once you have given information, try counting to seven before you speak again. This simple tip can make such a difference to your sales success. If people don’t get the time to take in what has been said, they tend to say that they will think it over and get back to you. How many times have you heard that? Give them time whilst you have them in front of you or on the phone. And watch your sales improve.
Do you struggle with keeping business and private lives separate?
Today I had a message from someone who wished for me to act as their mentor on a one to one basis. We were liaising via email and everything was going well until they sent me a request to befriend them on Facebook.
I have a Facebook business page and of course, also a personal profile. After they asked why I had not accepted them, I explained that I kept my business and private accounts separate but we could continue to communicate via email, LinkedIn messaging, telephone or Skype. Whilst I have nothing to hide on my personal page, I see no reason to let a business client have access to my private life and that of my friends and family.
After I refused to accept them as personal friend, the atmosphere turned. The individual insisted that if I wanted their business, a condition was that I had to accept them as a personal friend. Now, as this point I became suspicious of their intentions as there is no need whatsoever for anyone to need to be a friend of mine on Facebook in order to do business with me, and they could not explain their need to me.
After I had pointed this out in a very polite manner, and a few emails later, I decided to decline to work with them as, I tried to explain to them, when I work with clients, it is important to be able to communicate effectively with each other and have a mutual trust and respect which I now felt was lacking between us. I suspect this person had not ever been refused a service before as I was suddenly on the end of a vitriolic attack and warnings of how much money I would lose by refusing to work with them.
This reaction only made me more certain that my decision to keep my business and personal life separate was the correct one.
There can, at times, be a fine line between not wanting to offend a client but also needing to keep them somewhat at arm’s length and getting the balance right can be difficult, particularly in a service industry where personal communication is ongoing. I admit, I do have a few past clients who I now consider to be friends but this has come about over a period of time and mutual interests.
If keeping business and private lives separate is important to you also, then to overcome potential situations in the future, when you are dealing with clients, I think it is important to establish some boundaries at the outset and let clients know which channels are acceptable for contact and during which times of day.
If you do receive a personal Facebook friend request, a polite message explaining that you use Facebook to keep in touch with close friends and family, but would be happy to connect via LinkedIn or other method should suffice. If you are unfortunate to receive a response such as the one I had, then it is only evidence that this person is most certainly not your ideal client and one you will not want to be doing business with.