In Sales & Marketing, Remember: It’s About the Customer, Not You!

Your prospect or customer wants to know: What can you do for me?

If you really want to breakthrough with prospects and customers, you’re going to have to be prepared to demonstrate what’s in it for them. That means asking the right questions, listening well, doing your research and skillfully crafting a story that shows how your products or services make the customer and his company winners.

The concept of strategically collecting and applying information for positive customer engagement is nothing new. Knowing about the concept is one thing. However, being able to successfully deploy it is something else.

Marketers should know and understand the key points about strategic and consultative selling.  (There are numerous articles and guides than can be read.) Further, marketers should provide sales teams with the necessary tools and materials to successfully engage in this type of selling (e.g., examples of how the products and services can help customers and prospects succeed in various usage applications, end-user research, etc).

Dynamic and Fun Example

This example takes the practice of strategic selling to a whole new level of proficiency. It provides a discussion springboard for what can be applied at your company.

In this story, the seller wants the customer to have an excellent experience. One member of the selling team takes extraordinary action to go beyond making that happen. His objective is to cater to the customer’s specific interests and tastes instead of simply fitting the seller’s standard offerings to the customers. He creates an amazing, unique experience. For that sales team member, it is customer first.

To begin, let’s introduce the main characters.

■ The seller is an industrious restaurant wine director.

■ The customer is Greg Popovich, coach of the NBA team San Antonio Spurs. Under his leadership, the Spurs have won five NBA championships. Popovich also serves as the head coach of the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team. In addition to his basketball coaching prowess, describing him as a wine enthusiast is an understatement. He is a true oenophile. Popovich, often referred to as simply Pop, has created a bit of legend and mystique around the dinners with wine that he hosts for his team, colleagues and friends. They are food and wine combination events designed with a business leadership and teamwork purpose.

When Greg Popovich scheduled one of his team dinners at a Sacramento, California restaurant for a group of 40, wine director Jeremy Threat went into action. Continue reading

Interact with Customers in Real Time to Boost Satisfaction & Repeat Purchase

It’s good to ask your customer how was everything. It’s so much better to ask how is everything.

Learning in real time enables you to receive and process customer feedback so you can act and influence the outcome.

The team at the Hilton hotel in Fort Collins, CO embraces this philosophy. They reached out to me before and during my recent visit. Continue reading

5 Pointers for Writing a Letter to Your Customer

We all get “letters” from companies we do business with. Most go right in the garbage.

But, sometimes, a letter stands out.

The letter I’m going to tell you about was noteworthy because it reflected these 5 Pointers for Direct Customer Communication:

  • Be Authentic
  • Be Relevant
  • Keep it Straightforward/Concise
  • Convey appreciation/thanks for the business
  • Provide a Call-to-Action


“A few personal words.”

kingsize-brand-manager-letterThat was the title of the letter I received after a recent purchase from online retailer KingSize.

The one-page communication was a surprisingly good example of customer relationship engagement — that almost didn’t happen. That’s because the envelope and letter felt like just another typical piece of unneeded “junk” mail and I almost threw it out twice before reading the letter.

So, what made me read?

It was the title of the letter’s author: Brand Manager. That stood out to me as a marketer and former Brand Manager myself. Continue reading

Inside Look: How to Make the “Special Sauce” of Excellent Customer Service

Winning ideas stand out to me, even when enjoying a fine dinner of fresh grouper and a glass of red wine.

So it was recently at Duval’s restaurant in Sarasota, FL, where I was impressed by the shared responsibility, customer service teamwork of the staff.

According to  Joshua Halbrucker, the restaurant’s General Manager/Partner, their approach is simple:

“Treat every customer like they are your mother (and if you don’t like your mother… haha, treat them like someone you love dearly and would do anything for).”

Duval's Logo

Our waiter orchestrated the evening and was our primary service provider. He was friendly and effective. Where Duval’s stood out, though, was the totality of service provided. The entire team, regardless of title or role, formed a rapid-response customer service unit. Whenever someone passed by our table, he/she did so attentively and ready to act. For instance:

  • Need more bread? Coming right up.
  • Low on water? Be right back.
  • Appetizers finished? I’ll clear your plates.

It was customer-focused versatility in action, all geared to make sure that Duval’s provided us with an excellent dining experience. As one of the managers told me after dinner: “I tell the team to look at the tables as you walk by and if the customers need something, take care of it.”


A few days later, I reached out to Joshua Halbrucker to learn more about the restaurant’s operating philosophy. He answered my questions via email. Look for a number of marketing and business nuggets, some of which I’ve highlighted, followed by my three takeaways for your company. Continue reading

Basketball-Playing Cop Demonstrates Power of Touchpoint Marketing

Everything can be marketing and everyone can be a marketer.

Officer Bobby White and neighborhood basketball players. Credit: Gainesville, FL police department.

Officer Bobby White and neighborhood basketball players. Credit: Gainesville Police Department.

Consider the unlikely example of Officer Bobby White from the Gainesville, FL police department. The policeman responded to a complaint of kids playing basketball too loudly on a residential street. Maybe the neighbor who called police should have been investigated, but I digress.

What does this police story have to do with marketing?

Everything. As you’ll see in the video below, Officer White produced more in a few minutes than any multi-million dollar community relations campaign the town of Gainesville could have commissioned. Continue reading