Surely Beverly Koehn was destined for the business world. After a brief stint as staffing manager at Texas Instruments, she shifted gears to sell homes for San Antonio builders, then segued into sales management and training. Koehn launched her consulting firm in San Antonio in 1988, and through seminars, workshops and speaking engagements, she helps companies in the housing industry, as well as retailers and major manufacturers such as Whirlpool and GE.
Add the pool and spa industry to the list. Koehn was a seminar leader at the 2012 International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo, and an instructor for Pool & Spa News’ 2011 Webinar titled “Identify, Target and Capture the New Customer.”
Realizing the challenges of doing business in a down economy, Koehn listed some contributing factors that have made it tough in recent years: The media was telling consumers that it’s not the time to buy; people were cautious about discretionary spending; and then there was the price obsession.
“We’re our own worst enemies,” she declared. “We mostly talk about price, so they come in with that on their minds. Instead, talk about benefits, and personalize it for them. New customers (and existing ones) are looking for an exceptional experience. They want to feel like you truly treasure their business and are paying attention to them.”
Koehn cannot stress enough the need to really listen to customers and ask the right questions. “You must have a clear understanding of your buyer,” she said. “Let me ask you this: If you close your eyes, will you see a portrait or a caricature of your customer? Too many businesspeople don’t see a portrait.”
If she sounds passionate about business, she is. Koehn is on the road four or five times a month, leading sales and customer care training sessions for companies from New York to Chicago to Seattle, even Canada and Australia.
Her book Loyalty is Love: How to Hold Clients Close for Life (2008) is available through Amazon.com. She also likes to read books in what little downtime she has, especially “good business books” and classics such as The Count of Monte Cristo, which she reads every year. Power walking and ballroom dancing are other favorite activities.
But back to business, which is never far from her mind. If she weren’t in this line of work, Koehn said she’d teach at the college level. “I love speaking and teaching about the customer experience -- I don’t like to call it “service” -- and customer loyalty and sales.” Somehow, that doesn’t surprise us.