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Getting and Using Customer Feedback

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How do you know what parts of your presentation are most enticing and what parts drag, or how intriguing your cold call opener really is, or what was the deciding factor to turn your last prospect into a customer? The only way to know for sure is to ask the buyer himself.

Asking questions is a key part of the sales process because it enables you to collect the information you require to build a strong case for your product. If you don't know what the prospect needs, you can't design a pitch for them. But asking questions doesn't have to end at the close.

Your approach for collecting feedback can be as formal or informal as you like. All you need is a system that collects key information from your customers about their experience on the buyer's side of the table. A formal approach might be to send a written survey or direct the customer to a web page that they can fill out with their feedback. If you prefer a less formal method, you can simply call the customer or send them a simple email.

Whatever the approach you prefer, you'll need to ask roughly the same questions. Your goal is to get honest feedback from the customer about each stage of the sales process. Some sample questions would include:

  • What motivated you to set an appointment with me?
  • What do you remember best about my sales presentation?
  • What were the things you liked best about the presentation? What did you dislike about it?
  • How much did you know about my company before I reached out to you?
  • If someone asked you about your purchase today, what would you tell them?
  • Are you happy with your purchase at this point? Why or why not?
  • What did you think of my overall style?

The questions that will be most valuable to you are the ones that identify issues with your sales process. So if you're having a lot of trouble with cold calling, ask more questions about the customer's perception of you during your initial call. If you struggle at the close, dig into what your successful converts saw and heard that convinced them to buy. And if a customer called you first, ask where they heard of you and why they decided to reach out.

If you never seem to get any negative feedback, it's probably not because your sales process is perfect. Some customers will hesitate to say anything negative about you for fear of causing problems or hurting your feelings. If you run into this problem, you might want to arrange for a third party to send out the surveys. Ask this third party to assure customers that their identities will be kept in confidence. This isn't quite as effective for altering your approach since you won't know which presentation elicited what responses, but it's a lot better than nothing.

Prospects who don't buy are an even more valuable source of feedback than customers, because they can give you information about what you did wrong to lose the sale. But it can be more difficult to get them to open up to you, since they have no reason to do so and, like customers, probably don't want to upset you. Again, an anonymous survey can help you collect some information.

Always take responses with a grain of salt. If one survey comes back saying that you were rude and impatient, don't give it a lot of consideration. But if you get several such surveys, you definitely have a problem. The more surveys you get that mention a specific issue, the more seriously you should take it.

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