Your relationship with your spouse or significant other is a focal point in your life. You are familiar with them, and they know you, yet you are wise enough (if you are smart) to constantly show how you feel and at the same time hold up your end of the relationship by doing the perfunctory tasks like paying bills, keeping up the residence, and providing income and services for the family.
You do thoughtful things like bring home flowers, prepare a special meal, present small, thoughtful gifts and keep yourself in the mind and the heart of that special person.
This is what you need to do for your best clients as well. You need to do your job and at the same time do unanticipated acts that show them they are the focus of your efforts.
This sounds corny, but give it some thought. So many sales professionals look for the new sale, and forget that your best future customers are your current customers. The current customer’s tendency to by new products, sign-on for subsequent years, and give good referrals to people looking for your product makes your customer a valuable asset even past helping to increase your income.
The 5 Random Acts
Customer retention is important in any sales operation. Those sales professionals who have solid customer retention are going to experience higher sales and more consistent earnings, along with more opportunities for growth. Black sales professionals need to “wall off” their most important customers even more vigorously than other professionals: BSJ 4/11/2011-“Wall Off” Your Most Important Customers shows us some ways to do it.
As stated before, and no different than any interpersonal relationship, this is your chance to stay in front of your customer. Here are some ways how:
- Small thoughtful gifts
- Cards and letters
- Refer some of your other customers to your customer when possible – and let the customer who is the beneficiary know it
- Business entertainment w/your upper management
- Share relevant clippings and articles from web and print – with a note
Small Thoughtful Gifts – These gifts should be inexpensive, and in good taste designed to show thought. Example – Buying a customer a $12.00 frame that will house the picture of him/her and you at the latest outing, fishing trip, etc. This works, and the customer will not toss the frame, or re-gift it usually if the picture is in the frame. Know your companies gift policy and check this out: BSJ – Entertainment and Gift Giving Etiquette 11/17/2011
Cards and letters – Almost a lost art, but extremely effective and quite inexpensive. Use very good stationary and cards, and read how it is most effective here: BSJ – Make Yourself Memorable 2/3/2011
Refer your other customers to this customer – The key is to let him know it. Make sure that you get your mileage from it. There is nothing more of an endorsement for your customer than for you to send some of your other valued relationships to them. Have them call your customer contact directly, and advise them to ‘drop’ your name in the first line of the conversation.
Business entertainment with your company leadership – You may not consider it a treat to ‘break bread’ with your company’s management that often, but you would be amazed at how this brings your customer closer to your organization. Customers love the attention, and in most organization’s the policies require that the management pick up the tab in stead of you. Don’t under estimate this one as it can help to lock-up the customer, and endear you to management as well. Check this one out - BSJ – Is Your Sales Manager Managing? 10/17/2011
Share relevant clippings and articles from web and print – with a note – Show the customer that you are thinking about him/her frequently by sharing important information about products, economics, the marketplace and other information from the web, or print. Keep them informed or someone else will. Be the expert, and anticipate the client’s need for information.
Strengthening the Bond
Why are these effective? This one is simple: They strengthen the relationship. Remember that in sales ‘relationships are everything’. It is obviously a topic that I cover often in Black Sales Journal and is discussed further in BSJ – Revisited – Deepening Your Customer Relationships 11/11/2011.
Take a moment to put some of these suggestions to the test. Strengthen the bond and deepen the relationship, then reap the benefits. You cannot lose if you do.
Always master the relationship!
Your comments are appreciated. You can reach me at Michael.Parker@BlackSalesJournal.com.