Monday, June 26, 2006

Stop saying no to your customers!

Customer service is all about treating people well. But what about those times when you feel you have to say “no” to a customer? I have a novel way to handle these situations – permanently strike the word “no” from your vocabulary!

You see, saying no to customers is part of our natural survival instincts, because we are naturally programmed to defend our turf. But a simple technique makes it easy to make your customers an ally, even when you can’t do exactly what they want. I call it the ‘can-can’, because it involves focusing on what you can acknowledge and can do for the other person.” Here are some examples:

Before: That isn’t my department.
After: I’m glad you came in. I know exactly the right person to handle this.

Before: You can’t get in to see the doctor for two weeks.
After: I’d like to get you in as soon as possible. We do have an opening on Tuesday the week after next, and if you’d like, I can also let you know if there is a cancellation earlier than that.

Before: We don’t give refunds.
After: I’d love to see you to take home something you like. Even though we don’t take returns, I’ll be glad to give you a discount on another item.

Even in the most extreme situations, you can use the can-can to change the way people react to you. Let’s say, for example, you just towed away someone who is illegally parked, and they aren’t happy about it! Compare these two responses:

Before: “Sorry, you shouldn’t have parked there, and you’ll have to pay a fine.”
After: “I get frustrated when things like this happen to me, so I know how you feel. If you have a credit card, we can charge a small fee and send you on your way right now.”

In almost any customer situation, you can dramatically change your customer’s reactions by changing the mechanics of what you say – which, in turn, will make a real change in your business’s bottom line.


Hello to everyone in England! My new book Great Customer Connections has now been released in the United Kingdom through AMACOM and McGraw-Hill, and is available at major outlets including Tesco, W.H. Smith, and of course As you say over there, hope you're all "chuffed" with it!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Good customer connections help you sell more - a *lot* more!

So sayeth Business Week magazine, who just reviewed my new book Great Customer Connections in this week's issue, alongside another great book The Art of Connecting by Claire Raines and Lara Ewing.

In her article "Connections that Close Deals," Business Week's sales columnist Michelle Nichols ( makes the very accurate point that sales skills aren't enough nowadays - to stand out in today's multi-channel world, you need to make personal connections with people. Between the first book's focus on finding ways to build bridges with other people's wants, needs, and interests, and my book's techniques for speaking to a customer's agenda in even difficult situations, she makes it clear that personal relationships help you close a lot more sales. It's a great article, and you can read it here.

There are a couple of truly master salespeople in my own family, and connecting with people is their mantra - one constantly reads magazines ranging from the far left to the far right, so he can empathize with everyone's views, while another even donated blood when his client's wife needed surgery. Neither looks at their connection skills cynically as sales techniques - they genuinely like and respect everyone who crosses their paths, and the result has been extraordinarily successful careers.

So, the secret to sales success is really simple: (1) build connections with other people, and (2) buy my book!


P.S. A special note to my friends on the other side of "the pond" - Great Customer Connections is being published in the United Kingdom next month, with a release date of July 1, through AMACOM and McGraw Hill. It will be available in all major outlets including Tesco, W.H. Smith, and Amazon UK. Enjoy!