In the 1970’s as more and more mom and pop businesses selling the same products and services I was selling opened in my market I thought, “It cannot get any more competitive.” I was wrong. In the 1980’s the big box discounters came to town with bigger and brighter stores. As I watched my sales start to decrease and my customer base start to erode I knew I had to do something to stop the bleeding and start gaining sales and profitable customers quickly. I could not out advertise the competition. They had what seemed to me unlimited dollars to spend. But I could outsmart them. Outsmart them by becoming a more aggressive marketer and seller. Marketing is how you get the customer in your front door or to call you. Selling is how you get the customer to exchange their money for your products and services. To make sure our people did not become in-your-face aggressive, you know like the perception of the used car salesman, I created 100% Customer-Centered Aggressive Selling: 100% Customer-Centered means everything you do and say is about the customer, not about you or the business. Regardless of how you feel about Wal-Mart you’ve got to believe that Sam Walton was onto something when he said, “There is only one boss: the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company, from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” Think about it. Every employee in your business, from the person who signs the paycheck to the person who sweeps the floor and cleans the restrooms, ultimately reports to the same boss: THE CUSTOMER. All the customer has to do to figuratively fire everybody is to simply take his or her business somewhere else. If enough customers actually do take their business elsewhere – then everyone, including the owner could soon be out of a job. My sales increased immediately and my business grew quickly when we became “Aggressively 100% Customer- Centered.” Simply stated, being 100% Customer-Centered means that everything you say and do is about serving the customer. “Well, of course,” you say. “Everyone knows that focusing on the customer and taking good care of the customer is what successful business is all about.” If this is such a fundamental truth why has the American Consumer Satisfaction Index actually declined in four out of the last five years? And why isn’t every business person rich? Fact # 1 People Love to Buy, But Dislike to be sold. Fact # 2 People buy when they feel they are in control. When you, your business and your employees are 100% Customer-Centered The customers feel: 1. Valued, respected and appreciated. 2. In control. They come back to buy from you over and over again. Being 100% Customer-Centered has to come through in every aspect of your sales, marketing and advertising. Even though something as seemingly insignificant as your telephone message. For example, here is a phone messages that is NOT 100% Customer-Centered: “Thank you for calling The Consulting Co. I can not take your call as I am on the phone or away from my desk. Leave your name and number and I will return your call.” Contrast that messages with a 100% Customer-Centered messages: “Hi this is Bob Janet, Sales Growth Now. I am sorry I cannot take your call, Please leave your name and number and I will return your call and help you increase your sales and profits. Guaranteed. Thank you. Simple test to tell if you are being 100% Customer-Centered. If the Customer can say either of the following to anything you say or do you are not being 100% Customer-Centered. “What’s in it for me?” “So What?” By being 100% Customer-Centered you will differentiate your business, in a very positive way, and build loyal and long-term profitable relationships. Once my business became aggressively 100% Customer-Centered and everyone was thinking in only one point of view. The customers, I realized four things the customer was always asking me for. Like yours, my customers were busy with driving the kids to and from school, the kid’s social activities, their own clubs, meetings and social events. Not to mention the hundreds of things they are doing to maintain a household all while holding down a full time job. To save time your customer is a regular at fast food outlets, ATM banking, fast checkout lines, pay at pump gas stations and many, many more time saving facilities. All this time saving activity tells us the customer wants sellers to aggressively: 1. "MAKE IT QUICK FOR THEM. They do not have time to waste.” Business names with words like “Quick,” “Jiffy,” “Instant,” “One-hour,” and “Speedy” are common. Jiffy Lube International, which offers a ten-minute oil change, has grown to over one thousand outlets. Even overnight mail is not fast enough for your customers. Facsimile machines and email are now widely used to transmit documents across the world in seconds. Your customers constantly patronize fast food restaurants, drive through banks, and drive through car washes. 2. “MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM TO UNDERSTAND YOUR BENEFITS" Aggressively listen to your customers. Listen to what they want the product to do. Listen to their problems they want solved. Tell them the benefits they will obtain from buying your product or service. Tell them why they cannot live without your product or service. 3. "MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM TO BUY" Be aggressive with flexible options for them to pay by cash, finance, use charge cards or lay-a-way. Have flexible delivery schedules to accommodate their schedule. 4. "DON'T LET THEM DOWN" Aggressively do what you say you will do. Deliver on time. Make the paperwork easy. Be easy to get in touch with. Give the good service you promise. For years the # 1 Rule in Selling was: The one who solves the customer’s needs and problems the easiest for them will get the sale. In today’s highly competitive markets it is: The one who aggressively solves the customer’s needs and problems the easiest and fastest will get the sale. So what is aggressive good service? The best explanation I ever heard of delivering aggressive service came from Reggie Jackson, the great home run hitter for the New York Yankees. During a keynote presentation when Reggie was the spokesman for Hitachi Electronics he told the audience how he became a great home run hitter, even though he was not a top-notch athlete, and how he always succeeded in everything he attempted, even though he was only of average intelligence and ability. Reggie Jackson’s father taught him to always practice W.I.T. Whatever it takes! The story he told that evening was about how one of his duties as a young boy of 10 years old was to purchase his father a pint of Neapolitan ice cream (vanilla, chocolate and strawberry) every evening. His father would give him a quarter and off to the corner grocery store he would go. One evening the grocer was sold out of Neapolitan ice cream. Did little Reggie go back to his father and tell him of the problem? NO. He had learned to be aggressive. He went to his uncle’s clothing store a few doors down from the grocery store, borrowed fifty cents and purchased a pint of vanilla, a pint of chocolate and a pint of strawberry ice cream. Aggressive W.I.T. Whatever it takes to deliver the customer the very best service they have ever experienced is what the top sales producers practice. I never want to be remembered for the products I sold my customers. My competition sells the same products. I want to be remembered for the great To become “100% Customer-Centered Aggressive” all you have to do is increase the level of service you provide your customers and always look at everything about your sales process and business from only one point of view—The Customers point of view.