Deepening Your Customer Relationships – Part 2

Relationship 2

In the last post we started the discussion, Deepening Your Customer Relationships (January 13th), regarding how to gain customer intimacy.  We talked about the importance of a Customer Profile and the type of information that you could house in there.  I had a sales professional write me in the response section and state “…you discussed the Customer Profile, and began to explain it, yet you probably should have given an actual copy.”  I think that person was right!

I am going to give you a copy of a template for the customer profile as well as delve into some ways that you can get the information to fill in the profile.

The Customer Profile

As we discussed last week, this is not the Customer Profile that I expect to be in your employer’s database.  Remember my previous statement about whom you are selling your products and services to.  You are selling to an individual, not a company.  The act of forming the relationship over time is made easier by recording your information on this profile and using it wisely in cultivating and strengthening the relationship. You will see this over time.

Here is the Profile template. It is simple and to the point.  I am attaching it as a PDF.  It will will serve as a guide and can be altered  or be used “as is”:  CUSTOMER PROFILE PDF

Getting the Information

I am going to make some suggestions for harvesting the information as well.  Remember these important points:

  • Private Information – No customer wants to have a database out there for a vendor’s use which house information about his/her family, his educational background and preferences.  This is your information!
  • The Best Source – The best source of information would be the customer.  We will briefly discuss ways to get that it.
  • Other Sources – The more information that you can get from sources other than your customer, the less intrusive it will seem.

Breaking the Ice

Your quest for information begins with the act of “breaking the ice.”  You are the quarterback and you will set the tone for the meeting.

I always started off a meeting with a new buyer by creating a relaxed environment.  The normal pleasantries of weather, traffic, and the state of business were beginning topics.

I would then execute the sales call.  Once business was completed on the call, I would start a conversation with information about me, and then seek information about the customer.

Who am I?

Information about me – I would allow the quick verbal resume to get slightly personal including where I reside, and how long in the area.  I also included how many children I had, and in most cases where they were going to school.   The verbal resume would include my length of time with the company and my years of time in sales.  My objective was to let the buyer know that:

  • I am a sales professional
  • I am a person who enjoys what I do.
  • I have staying power
  • Behind me is a family who is important to me

Yes the quick introduction was purposeful, and intentionally personal.

Who are You?

Now it is the buyer’s turn.  I am willing to bet if it is a good day, he/she will deliver many of the points in the same fashion as you.  You should take specific note of them as you are now looking through a window that might only be open for a short period of time.

Once they had laid that out for me, I felt comfort in asking if the buyer was a native of the area. Which leads to which school he went to, and does he support the Giants or the Jets, or the Bears or the Packers.  With a laugh here or there, we have covered much ground that I can use later to strengthen the relationship.

My most completed profiles would include favorite restaurants, probably because we had a business meal there, and what the customer enjoyed in terms of alcohol.

The Customer Profile in Action

On a cold December 20th several years ago a customer gave me a gift.  It arrived by UPS, and I was flattered.  I did not think we had reached that level yet but it was a fine gesture that I needed to respond to.  The customer profile showed enough information regarding where he liked to dine as well as his hobbies.  In return I got a modest gift certificate from his favorite restaurant and a fishing hat for his upcoming late spring fly-fishing trip.  This information was from my notes.  That fine former customer still keeps in touch.

As your relationship continues, a business entertainment lunch at a local restaurant will give you an opportunity to further your profile in a more neutral setting.

Don’t Force It

As stated in my most recent post, you need to serve up some of your personality so things can get more personal.  If someone wants to keep it strictly business, you will need hope that over time you can get the buyer intimacy that you seek.  Don’t force it.  Be natural and be prepared to “get closer” in the future once the buyer is reluctant at this time.  As the relationship matures he could be more accepting.

A deep enduring relationship happens when there is an exchange.  Be personal and personable.

Above all know your customers intimately, at least the important ones.  I hope this will provide the start.

Tell me what you think.

Comments are closed.