Key to Sustained Customer Relationships

In the world of sales there are two types of customers: current and future. For some reason, many businesses consistently take on the more arduous and time consuming task of attempting to acquire new customers, at the expense of better servicing and up-selling their current ones. As a consumer, I’m constantly stumped as to why most businesses neglect to follow up, and be there in preparation for the next selling opportunity.

In its most simple form, being there is a two pronged process that begins immediately after the sale is complete. The first step to being there is making sure that your customers are satisfied and comfortable with the purchases they have just made. This can be easily accomplished with a phone call or email, and should be done whether you are selling a product or a service. For your customers who are satisfied, this communication only reinforces the positive feelings they have about you. For your customers who have an issue or concern, this gives you the opportunity to correct the situation and turn their feelings of frustration into feelings of satisfaction.

The second step to being there is to make sure that you are consistently communicating with your customers. This communication can be done through a variety of mediums, but it should be done consistently and done with the objective of adding value through giving. By accomplishing this objective you will separate yourself from others in your industry, be viewed as an authority in your field, turn current customers into future ones, and distinguish yourself as someone who cares.

Following are some examples of adding value through giving:

Recognition – Send a card/make a call/or send a special treat on a client’s birthday. It may seem over the top, but it works. A quick example: The first car my wife and I ever purchased was from a salesman who called us twice a year. He called us on our respective birthdays to wish us well and make sure our car was running well. No one we have done business with, before or since, has done this. Guess who we bought our second car from? (As an aside, this salesman sold the most cars at this dealer for six straight years. When I asked him how come, he told me he only did one thing differently then his fellow salespeople – follow up!).

Industry Information – If you work in an industry with a long sales cycle or where purchases are made over a long timeline (insurance, mortgage, law, real estate, etc.) develop a newsletter (quarterly, semi-annually) that keeps your customers informed of how your industry is evolving. Are there new regulations, qualifications, government interventions, etc. This type of contact will let your customers know that you are still around and that you want to service their upcoming needs. In the last year I have done business with an insurance agent, a lawyer, a banker, and an accountant. The combined number of times that they have contacted me for any reason = zero! I know they could easily sell me more of their services, help me to meet my business needs, and build my customer loyalty with them if they would just contact me occasionally with pertinent industry information.

Product Information – Make your customers aware of your newest products, latest technology, and featured services, and how they might benefit from them. My auto mechanic keeps me up to date on the services he provides via a quarterly newsletter. Every quarter he features a different service, and emphasizes the benefit that service may provide (i.e. improved gas mileage, improved safety, improved driving comfort, etc.). By constantly being there, he keeps me informed and reinforces the fact that he wants to earn my business.

Go above and beyond, by following up with your current customers. Turn today’s purchase into future purchases and a long term relationship, by being there. Keep your customers informed through giving, and separate yourself from your competition. Then watch your business grow.

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