Those that are in business for the long haul know that they need to build a steady relationship with a customer. They don’t say good bye to a customer after selling him once. They say, “See you soon”. Relationship selling is a process spread over a long period of time and not a series of single unconnected sales. A seller of consumable items to stores knows that he will have to visit the stores again well before the stock of the items is exhausted. Unless the relationship between the seller and the buyer is good– how long does it take for the buyer to change the seller? A supplier of toiletries to a star hotel knows the value of keeping the purchase department of the hotel in good humor. Customer retention and satisfaction have become the buzzwords in customer relationship management.
A happy customer would gladly refer his friends and associates towards your product. It is possible to create a solid network of happy customers that continuously experience customer satisfaction in a virtuous circle.
How to Keep the Customer Happy
First and foremost, always supply the best quality product to the customer. Deliver on time as some businesses are particular about the timing of the arrival of the supplies, restaurants for instance. Offer the maximum possible discount to a loyal customer. As a reward for loyalty, shower gifts on the customer. Don’t worry about the costs. It costs five times to obtain a new customer than retaining an old one. Encourage the customer to contact you in case of any problem with the product. Be prompt in offering service. Being there during the difficult times is something a customer can never forget. Personally make a visit when your product gives any trouble and check whether the service staff is attending to the complaint to take care of it. A loyal customer may not switch loyalty because of a reasonable price rise.
If the customer is happy, your door to networking swings open easily. The customer may voluntarily refer friends and associates to buy your product. Free word of mouth promotions work well. Paying a commission to your customer for each successful sale to a referred contact is a wonderful idea. This will motivate the customer to direct more buyers towards your product. Do not take the customer for granted just because you are paying commission and offering discount. Despite everything, treat the customer royally. Be thankful to the customer for doing business with you and referring new businesses to you.
Customer relationship is not about having buddy-buddy type relationship with the customer. Though in rare instances such a relationship may develop, the usual practice relationship selling is treating the customer with respect and fulfilling his product requirements.
Once you have endeared yourself to a set of customers ask them for referrals and try to enter their network… Pursue them actively for referrals. Remember again that they are not obligated to give you referrals just because they are happy with your product and service. Ask politely and accept gracefully the referrals they give you. Five customers can give 20 referrals and each referral will have good chance of being a potential buyer. If you are a seller of holiday packages and have already sold to the Information Security manager of a company, you will stand a good chance of selling to other managers of the company. Also, you can take referrals of their friends that work outside the organization.
Keep all the contact details of the referred clients. Try to sell them with optimism. Do not expect that because a person has purchased his friends will also do the same from you easily. You may have to go through the sales process all over again (without the prospecting and qualifying leads steps, of course) and deal with the usual objections. But the chances of selling to them are very bright if you play it right.
Try to become a part of your customer’s network. You must try to find out all the possible places where your customers socialize, go for recreation, send their kids for education etc. and try to develop contacts. Invite your customers to your networks, if it is appropriate. Work relentlessly to develop a vast network of people each linked to the next person with some thing in common. You will never know who will end up as a buyer or refer a buyer.
With the possibility of increasing your network endlessly you can sell endlessly. Establishing a superb relationship with every customer may not be possible. But if you establish a good rapport with every alternate customer and try to enter into their network the possibilities for selling are still endless.
About the Author:
Doug Dvorak helps companies and professionals achieve results through customized, creative and non-traditional sales training systems that are “one size fits one” and developed to the unique business needs and “sales pain points” of each client. He is available to speak on these topics.
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Copyright 2008 The Sales Coaching Institute, Inc.
Sales Skills Training Strategic Sales Coaching
Doug Dvorak, CEO of DMG International, is the Author of the forthcoming book “Build Your Own Brand” (Pelican, 2009)