Think like a customer. — When you go shopping, how do you want to be treated? When you sign up with a company, how well do you want to be taken care of? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” isn’t just some ancient religious concept, it’s a business mandate. Think like a customer. Treat them as you would like to be treated. Work as hard for them as you would want them to work for you. You will be pleasantly surprised at what comes your way. A long-term customer? Yes, and so much more!
As a part of my series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tania Cazin, creator of the 12-Step Stalwart Selling System™ and owner of Stalwart Sales Training & Consulting. Selling since 1989, she has a commission only and a one-call-close selling background. Tania has over two decades of training by top sales trainers, psychologists, philosophers, and personal development coaches. With her 12-Step Stalwart Selling System™, she built her sales career to a 90% closing ratio and now teaches those in technology, advertising, financial, medical, retail and other vertical markets to do the same. For more information, visit: StalwartSales.com
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
How did I get started in sales? My first sale was when I was about six years old. I overheard my parents talking about getting rid of our old lawnmower. Before they knew what I was up to, I sold it to the neighbors for fifty bucks.
Throughout my childhood, I sold anything and everything I could get my hands on. At seven years old, I started a newspaper route. In elementary school, I was involved in school fundraising, selling peanuts, gift wrapping paper… I broke records. I joined a kid sales club when I was just ten and continued to sell as a teenager. My professional sales career officially began when I was just seventeen. I built my career on a one-call-close, straight commission selling style, which requires a different skill set and mindset than working for a wage plus bonus or commission.
I developed a passion for understanding why people do what they do, why they want what they want, and how to help them get it. I have continuously studied psychology, human behavior, and professional salesmanship since 2001.
In 1999, I created the Stalwart Selling System™, an easy to follow, twelve-step selling system that encompasses the proven skills, techniques, and attitudes that brought my career to a 90% closing ratio. Today, it is not uncommon for my clients to see 700%+ growth in a very short time.“Sell More in Less Time” is the theme and motto of my company, Stalwart Sales Training and Consulting. My mission is to help as many professionals achieve this kind of result in their sales careers.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Mistakes are learning lessons — and I have had plenty! Early in my career, when the customer said “no,” I would say “okay,” and move on. When customers hung up on me as I was cold calling, I’d just let it go and make my next call. After more experience and training, I learned to turn “no” into “yes.” I began to call back those who hung up on me and set up appointments, close sales, and win awards.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business?
You only need one reason; to stay in business (and, if you’re an employee, to keep your job)! Treat your customers right, or someone else will. Let’s not depend on technology to build and maintain the customer experience. Nobody falls in love with a robot. Think of a time when you didn’t get good customer service. Did you go elsewhere? Did you also tell your friends and family to go somewhere else? They say if you like something, you’ll tell one person; but if you hate something, you’ll tell ten. Why are some industry giants not around today? Regardless of our technological sophistication, failure to provide a great customer experience, puts us out of business quicker than anything.
We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?
They don’t get it, they don’t care, or they forgot that good customer care needs good care itself — good training and constant review. Even the most professional salesperson can forget under pressure, but customers need to feel that we are on their side. The professional’s job is to de-escalate issues, problem solve, elevate customer experiences and get them coming back for more.
I recently went to buy some holiday ham from a well-known restaurant chain. Not a whole ham; just a pound or two. Before waiting in the very long line, I asked if there would still be some available by the time I got to the counter. They said, “yes”; however, when I got there, it was sold out.
I was bummed. I spoke to the manager. I told her that I would not have spent the time waiting in line had they not assured me that there would have been enough available. I expected some resistance or an excuse, but was pleasantly surprised when, without hesitation, she personally sliced some up for me.
I was wowed. It was clear I was important to her; that her customers mattered. I was grateful. I thanked her and told her it was rare to find such quality customer service. She smiled and told me she had a counseling background. That explained it. She was a professionally trained listener and problem solver.
Because of her, I will go back, and tell all my friends to buy from there too. Consistent customer service and sales training is vital to the life of any corporation. Schools do fire drills. We need “customer service drills” so when moments like the ham situation happen, we are ready!
Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?
Absolutely! Competition is great. It gets us to step up our game; to reflect and revise the way we do business. It forces us to check in with our customers to see where we can improve. We need to stay true to who we are, while keeping ahead of the competition. If you’re dating a beautiful woman, and a real prince charming shows up, like in the Hallmark movies (Hey, it could happen!), and starts getting your girlfriend’s attention, will you step up your game or keep on doing things the same ol’ way? You’d step up your game, wouldn’t you? You’d open her car door, cook her fancier meals, take out the trash without being asked. You’d start doing something extra to make sure she keeps her attention on you. It’s the same in business.
Our customers are aware of our competition, but they especially notice them when our quality of service starts to slip. It’s interesting to see Walgreens and CVS open stores near each other; or when competing gas stations open across the street from each other. Competition improves business and customer experience for both. (Unless one of them has sub-par customer service; that one will generally fail.) The customer service and personal customer relationship is what generally sets them apart. It also keeps business flowing to the area, which benefits both.
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?
Would it sound like a brag if I say they are all “wowed”? Although my goal is to always exceed expectations, the bar isn’t set all that high in the customer service arena.
Exceptional service is not being exceptional, it is simply doing the ordinary thing (serving customers) extraordinarily well. No “wow’s;” just consistent, reliable, empathetic, honest, responsive, enthusiastic, service, follow-through and follow-up. This is how I, we, you “wow” clients. Great customer service is an integral part of my sales training. Great customer service is not an offer or an add on, it is an unspoken contractual obligation.
Once clients and reps plug into my 12-step Stalwart Selling System™, they are wowed, not by what I do, but by what they will do, and how simple it is for them to do it. They learn to underpromise and overdeliver. They see ever shorter selling cycles and ever higher closing ratios. They feel the thrill of selling more in less time and lining their pockets with the results — which are generally far greater than they expected. Elizabeth, one of my favorite students, plugged into my selling system and, in a very short time, increased her sales by 700%. The real “wow” came when she shared with me how that extra income changed her life and that the skills she learned will be forever with her.
Did that Wow! experience have any long-term ripple effects? Can you share the story?
Yes, as I mentioned, that extra income changed Elizabeth’s life. The skills she learned from me are forever with her. No matter the job, or career position, these selling skills transform into life skills. Happy clients, like Elizabeth, give me great reviews and send qualified referrals. It shows me that not only do they appreciate what I did for them, they also trust that the people they refer are in good hands and will be well taken care of.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.
1. Our success in sales and in business is in direct proportion with the quality of our service.
We reap what we sow. It is embedded in the laws of nature. The farmer has to do all the work before he can see a return from his efforts. He must prepare the ground, plant the seeds, nurture them, water them (maybe even talk to them); then, months later, if all goes according to plan, enjoys a harvest. It is the same in business. We plan, prepare, prospect, sell; and that’s just preparing and planting. Good customer service is the nurturing part. It is the nurturing part that many forget. It is required in order to reap a bountiful harvest year after year.
2. It’s the little things that matter.
Recently, I brought my car into the dealership for its last prepaid service. If I told you each little detail of every little thing that went wrong, you might think each little thing, taken separately, might be a minor or even petty detail; human error, oversight, glitch, misstep… and you’d be right. But, taken as a whole, the sum total of all those little things that went wrong, made everything seem like a big thing. The big things are just the contract. The little things make the relationship.
When I picked up my car from having it serviced, they gave me back my key covered with sticky tape residue from their ID tag. Little thing or big deal? Those keys are worth 1100 dollars! I also asked them to email me some much needed, time sensitive, information. They said they’d take care of it right away. But three days later, it was still never done.
When going over the work performed on my car, my service advisor interrupted our conversation to answer phone calls. He wouldn’t even give me ten minutes of focused attention. How unimportant would that make you feel? I was handed the service papers and left to figure out on my own what they meant; what dents, dings, other repairs and wheel improvements they did. The sales rep was always difficult to get a hold of. This was a high-end luxury car dealer. I wondered how I would have been treated if I had bought their most expensive car on the lot.
It’s the little things that create the relationship. It’s the little things that make us refer friends and family. When every little thing is irritating, wrong, done carelessly or just not done at all… well… there is no happy relationship, just an unhappy contract.
3. How the customer feels is always right.
Is the customer really always right? No, sometimes their facts are waaaaay off the mark; but how they feel is always right. When we have an upset customer, whatever the reason, it is our job to de-escalate the situation and approach it with a solution-oriented attitude versus “attitude.” If we want to stay in business, we must always remember that we are the professional; we are trained and obliged to solve problems, not get into a battle over who’s right and who’s wrong. When we, the professional, genuinely listen to our customers and pay attention to how they feel, and they feel that we really care, we will be surprised how quickly things get resolved. Focus on “how can I make this a better experience for them” instead of “I’m right, you’re wrong.”
4. BE NICE!
What type of person do you want to work with? One who greets you with a smile, a good attitude, someone who makes you feel welcomed? Or someone who seems to barely notice you and, when they do notice you, seem to think you’re an inconvenient interruption in their day? Yes, life happens to all of us. We deal with death, break-ups, break-ins… People cut us off on the highway… Stuff happens. As professionals, we need to leave our problems at the door and treat every customer as if they’re our first — and most important — customer of the day. Buyers want to feel good about what they buy and from whom they buy. Successful salespeople are likeable and trustworthy. When people like us, they do business with us. When they love us, they send referrals.
5. Think like a customer.
When you go shopping, how do you want to be treated? When you sign up with a company, how well do you want to be taken care of? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” isn’t just some ancient religious concept, it’s a business mandate. Think like a customer. Treat them as you would like to be treated. Work as hard for them as you would want them to work for you. You will be pleasantly surprised at what comes your way. A long-term customer? Yes, and so much more!
How can our readers follow you online?
Are you a sales professional looking to sell more in less time — even during difficult times? Visit me at StalwartSales.com. If you would like to be featured on Stalwart Selling TV, click on the Media tab on the site or click the link below for details. You can also follow me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @TaniaCazin.
Stalwart Selling TV Submissions: StalwartSales.com/submissions/
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Yes, you are welcome. Thank you for having me!