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Successful entrepreneur, expert on customer service and popular speaker on how to win profitable customers and clientsRequest fees and availability
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Ian Cooper is an internationally acclaimed customer service; sales success and business development specialist, who has helped over 900 businesses through his pragmatic and common sense approach. Ian is particularly known for his lively, humorous, down to earth and anecdotal style that inspires, educates and entertains. Ian has years of experience as a speaker and has spoken at numerous corporate events, conferences, public and ‘in house’ seminars and ‘after dinner / lunch’. He has presented numerous ‘Masterclass’ tours of his own on various subjects.
Speaker Ian Cooper has more than 30 years of entrepreneurial success in his own right, having created several successful businesses. In his capacity as a business consultant he has advised and helped over 800 businesses of all sizes in many sectors to become more profitable. Professor Cooper is the author of the ‘Financial Times Guide To Business Development: How To Win Profitable Customers and Clients’. With books published by major global publishers in 13 languages and 56 countries around the world, Ian Cooper is one of the most published non-fiction business / personal development authors in Britain.
In recognition of Ian’s contribution to the fields of customer service; business development and ‘service sector’ marketing he was awarded a Visiting Professorship at Henley Business School, part of the University of Reading.See keynotes with Ian Cooper
Keynote by Speaker Ian Cooper
Keynote by Speaker Ian Cooper
Keynote by Speaker Ian Cooper
How To Get The Most Out Of Conferences; Events; Business And Social Situations.
A huge amount of money is spent every year by organisations all over the world, running or sending people to conferences and business events. Unfortunately, they don’t always get the return that they would like on their investment. Yes, people attend events to improve and maintain their professional know-how on various topics, but a major corporate desire that drives this sector is the opportunity to network, make valuable new contacts and build relationships.
With that in mind, let me share a short story.
A while back I was invited to attend an internal business development meeting for a company who wanted their people to attend conferences; seminars; trade shows; exhibitions and other social and professional events, in order to ‘drum up new business contacts for the organization.’. One director, who was sitting next to me whispered in my ear … “I find these events frustrating because when I get there, I don’t really know what to do, who to talk to, in order to network and build contacts”.
Over many years of talking to people and helping them with this subject, I have found that this feeling and attitude is actually the ‘norm’ and not the exception.
If you stop and think about it, it is quite bizarre that everyone is expected to be naturally good at mixing in these sort of situations. Rarely is any training given, yet with some simple strategies and techniques, confidence grows and results can massively improve.
For several years I have been providing anecdotal, entertaining and thought-provoking presentations on this topic to help oil the wheels of business conversation and I have even written about it in my various books. Here are just a few very brief tips to stimulate some initial thoughts:
At conferences and business events, most people feel like you
You should know that around 97% of people going to conferences, business and social events use words like ‘apprehensive’ or ‘nervous’ to describe how they feel, both before and during the event. Remember this when you’re looking around the room and everybody else seems to be having a wonderfully relaxed time.
Build rapport through small talk
I have often heard people say, “I hate small talk”. However, the key to a good conversation is the ability to ask good questions and be a good and interested listener. However trite and intangible this may seem, your aim is to find personal common ground with other people. This is, of course, achieved mainly through small talk. Remember, small talk is the foreplay of a conversational relationship! Keep it simple and focus your interest on the person you are talking to rather than just yourself.
Avoid hard sell in business networking situations
I’ve often seen people pushing their way through crowds at a business conference, or event handing out brochures and business cards like hungry predators treating other delegates and guests like commercial prey.
Not only is this not a good strategy, it is positively counterproductive. In the vast majority of situations, it is unlikely that anyone is going to do business with you, or even want to chat properly until they like and trust you first.
Play conversational tennis
When someone asks you a question, don’t just give one word or short answers. Give a proper response and always then ask an appropriately open mirrored question back, that gets them chatting. Good conversations usually involve turn taking. Each question and response leads to the likelihood of the two people establishing something in common.
Master the art of conversation … there is lots to learn ….
What if you or your teams knew:
• How to prepare for a conference or event
• How to spot and create business opportunities out of social conversations
• The conversational problems and traps to avoid
• How to focus on the social and let the business take care of itself!
• How to influence people to want to get to know you better
• The two golden rules of making conversation.
• The different types of listeners!
• Who should you talk to?
• How to break the ice
• How to ask questions
• How to remember names? How long does it take you to forget someone’s name?
• The aim of the conversation!
• Great topics for conversation.
• The topics to avoid.
• How to get others to ask you the questions you want.
• How to get away from time-wasting bores
• How to follow up and build on relationships.
• How to turn the social into business.
The bottom line is that these personal skills produce results, new valuable business connections and makes an event less stressful and much more enjoyable to attend. One of the oldest clichés in business development is that, people buy people first. It is a skill that can be improved.
Professor and speaker Ian Cooper has written 16 books and is published in 56 countries. He is well known for his entertaining and pragmatic style and for his down to earth, non-academic and anecdotal approach.
When it comes to achieving outstanding business development success, who is the most important person in your organisation? Your Chief Executive? Managing Director? Head of Business Development? Marketing Director? No … the answer is ‘your customer’ / ‘client’!
As I got up to speak recently at a seminar on customer service as the ultimate business development tool, I overheard a mutter … “here we go again … another lecture on being nice to customers and clients … what a waste of space”. This is a very expensive and flawed attitude.
Companies and organisations who understand the power of this ‘being nice to customers and clients’, basic truism and who place the customer’s needs and ‘feelings’, at the centre of every decision and interaction, are the ones who will establish a differential advantage over their competitors. They will also be able to charge and get the prices and fees they deserve and have a commercially successful future. Make no mistake, in this highly competitive age … ‘customer service’ is the ultimate business development success platform.
Simple you may say, but if it is so obvious, why is it that so few businesses get it right? From my personal research and experience ….
– 68% of organisations have no active policy for keeping in touch after the first purchase.
– 45% of organisations still have limited information about their own customers and clients.
– Less than 20 % of organisations provide training for their staff in customer services techniques, strategies and personal skills.
– Only around 25% of organisations have a structured system to foster recommendations and referrals.
So here are the top 6 things you must understand or learn:
1. Customer service is about every aspect of an organisations business
Customer / client service is much more than a separate series of ‘things to do’, dreamt up by a few of the directors who ‘get it’ and then left to the marketing team to run. Customer service is a way of thinking. It is a ‘mindset’ to be embedded in the focus and philosophy of the firm, that drives every small decision, communication and interaction.
2. Customer service should be experienced as an emotion
The aim of great customer service is to ‘influence’ customers and clients and others to ‘feel’ positive about you and your brand. People make their decisions to choose you, return for more, or recommend you, based totally on how they ‘feel’ about you. If you want to encourage and foster these wise decisions, then your strategic focus needs to be on what you need to do or say to influence their ‘feelings’.
3. Great customer service wins you new business
Customer / client service is not just about being ‘nice’, it will win you bucket loads of business. For example, sometime ago I was asked to help a family department in a mid-sized law firm, increase their conversion of telephone enquiries for private divorce work from a pitiful 13%. Callers were dealt with by untrained staff who treated potential clients as though they were a nuisance. Callers were often emotionally distressed. They were processed. There was no real conversation, empathy, rapport or interest. I showed them how to deal with these enquiries with a ‘customer service’ driven focus. Within a few months the conversion rate was 82% … and the firm an extra half a million pounds better off!
4. Great customer / client service will bring you increased repeat business, facilitate cross selling and turn your past clients into your sales-force
When are you next in touch with past customers and clients after a job, engagement, or purchase has been concluded? If you don’t know, or care, I can tell you now you are leaving cash on the table! Keeping in touch to build a relationship and to make sure that they know of your full range of services, will keep them coming back. This of course is providing they were satisfied with you in the first place.
5. Clients will judge you by ‘service delivery’ and not just the quality of your ‘product’
You need to be able to differentiate between the technical or product quality of what you do for customers and your ‘service delivery’. Your product or technical proficiency will be taken for granted as a given. Customers and clients will not just judge you just by your product or know how, but by how they were made to ‘feel’. How were they greeted? Did they feel you supported with the right level of empathy and personal interest?
6. Customer / client service training is a ‘must’ and not an option.
Remember, people buy people first! Your people need to understand that good customer and client service includes certain personal skills. These include empathy; taking a real interest in customers and clients; putting yourself in their shoes; going out of your way to help; managing their anxieties and feelings. All these and more are personal skills and techniques, that can be learnt and improved.
Can you discuss your most recent book?
I was approached by the publishers of the Financial Times brand to write a book for them called – the ‘Financial Times Guide To Business Development: How To Win Profitable Customers and Clients’. It is aimed at entrepreneurs, business owners and managers at all levels who want practical, easy to understand tips and techniques on how to win more business. The most important thing about the book is that it is readable, light and entertaining and these are the reasons for its international success. The book mirrors my presenting style.
How has your entrepreneurial success impacted your keynote speeches?
This one is easy. My audiences can instantly ‘feel’ that I know what they are thinking and dealing with on a day-to-day basis. This helps massively in really connecting with them. They very quickly realize that I have been where they are and the anecdotal personal story telling style keeps them engaged.
What types of audiences benefit most from your keynotes?
Open minded, aspirational business people who are looking for a simple, common sense approach and a way of thinking that will trigger those … ‘that’s it moments’. My audiences enjoy my use of humour and entertaining pragmatism. I am particularly experienced in presenting to audiences from the ‘service’ sector.
What is the most unique experience you have had as a speaker or presenter?
I guess presenting to 350 people for an hour as a guest speaker on a cruise ship in a force 9 –11 storm stands out in my mind as quite an experience and challenge … although not one I would be wild about repeating!
What are some of the most important aspects of customer service?
How does the experience of dealing with a particular business or organization make someone ‘feel’? All the tools of customer service that I speak about … keeping promises, exceeding expectations, going the extra mile, building relationships with them etc. etc. etc. … ultimately all relate to trying to influence these feelings. Make them ‘feel’ good and they will come back again and again and tell others how good you are. Everything else is detail!
What are some of your most popular keynote topics?
I have spoken on many topics over the years, however here are a few of the most popular, which always great a great reaction, because they are very practical, anecdotal, informative, entertaining and observational:
Converting telephone enquiries into profitable business – many businesses have used my special techniques and doubled their business.
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