SMEs in Europe need to improve their sales efforts and really fast. Many of them blame their poorly performing sales development on lackluster market conditions.
Keeping your company front-end contacts hidden from potential suppliers or customers is not a good starting point to improve company performance.
I am not talking here about fancy and expensive marketing programs and high flying consultants.
I am talking about:
- being available
- being seen
- having company contacts available
- not forcing your customer going through “gate keepers” if he wants to inquire about a product or service
- useless internet “contact forms”, at least questionable in terms of effectiveness and politeness and responsiveness
- not visiting all over again “good old” customers and having a beer or two with them
- searching actively new potential customer contacts
- looking actively for new markets
- getting new and inspiring signals from the market
- cold calls
Try to contact for instance a window cleaning company in UK or an EMS company in Germany. You don’t even have a chance to make them a proposal relevant for their business or presenting yourself as a new potential customer or supplier. The managing director is hardly available and phone numbers and emails are not on their webpage. Not even if he has received in advance a written proposal for this opportunity.
Then you look at their webpage and their competitors. All of them are telling the same story, like for instance all our employees are insured or please fill in the contact form!
Where is the differentiator?
Would I buy a service from a small company, whose managing director is not available for customer complaints or satisfied customer feedback? How is this company going to learn?
Try to buy a product from an SME in Europe. Some of them have only an Internet contact form or “info” Email address. Another tells you politely, we will send you the representative name once you have filled in the contact form!
Why not give your customer a number he can call, and if your sales person is not available, make sure that the customer gets a call back immediately.
Not only SMEs have this poor customer service behavior in Europe, it is also the large corporations. There is no reason though, that an SME should copy bad customer service models from large corporations.
I know we are all very busy; nevertheless we should never be too busy to find and serve also new customers and talk to potential new suppliers. One can only learn.
Excellent customer service and responsiveness to a customer inquiry can become your true differentiator.
But be fast please! It is all about management’s attitude.