How Not To Be Lame When Deepening Customer Relationships – By Alex Ribble
Early in my career, I had a sales job selling passive electronic components for a manufacturer. There were 3 salespeople in that company at that time, each responsible for a different region and each with very, very different styles when it came to managing customer relationships.
One salesperson, in particular, was an absolutely fascinating chap. Let me preface by saying that if you consider yourself an enthusiastic observer of human beings and their behavior by nature, I can assure you there was no shortage of the sheer entertainment and laugh-out-loud hilarity this individual generated each and every day. He was a cold call machine and thrived on his ability to use self-deprecating humor as the ice breaker. He’d discuss his inability to digest certain foods and make dry comments about what he described as his “rampant flatulence”. He’d brag about how many times the day before he’d done something so annoying that his wife had forced him to the other side of the house. Whatever he could do to get a laugh and a few extra seconds, and it worked.
He was not what you’d consider a traditional salesperson by nature. He wasn’t slick, didn’t use sophisticated technology or sales automation tools, and hardly updated the company’s CRM. In fact, he didn’t even care for using email. His intrinsic gift was his unique (and sometimes odd) ability to keep people on the phone, keep them talking, keep them laughing, and keep them buying.
Technology has both blessed us and equally ruined us. We use email, social media, text, and teleconferencing all so we can “better” connect with each other and avoid uncomfortable face-to-face conversations. But when was the last time you had an unplanned phone conversation with your client? Or set up a coffee session just because… without a sales motive?
Even if you have a customer service team in charge of managing clients, your clients most likely didn’t choose your products or services because of your friendly receptionist. They chose your business because of YOU.
Most of my clients have become my friends. We share meals together, golf together, take in sporting events and concerts and talk on the phone frequently. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company.
Your clients are people with worries, desires, and fears — just like you. Don’t be afraid of talking about those things as they relate to business.
Don’t push your services. Focus on listening. Be authentic. The time will come for reaping the fruit from that relationship.
5 Tips for Developing Deeper Customer Relationships
Deepening relationships is easier than creating new ones. Here are 5 tips you can use to help deepen your client relationships:
Tip #1: Develop your customer service team into relationship builders; don’t just solve problems — find ways to make your customer’s day:
- Have a fun conversation
- Send an unexpected gift
- Offer simple rewards
- Send a hand-written thank-you note
Tip #2: Anticipate your customers’ needs and give before they ask.
- Provide (free) helpful information
- Help them problem solve
- Be an ‘idea factory’
Tip #3: Listen. Listen. Listen. Proactively.
- Monitor their social media
- Monitor their online reviews
Tip #4: Incentivize loyalty with a VIP program.
- Greater perks for frequent purchases
- Extra-personalized treatment
Tip #5: Don’t be boring, please. Show some personality.
- Start with looking at how your team members communicate
- Spice up those sales call templates
- Post a meme on social media every now and then
- Don’t be afraid of attracting attention to yourself
Make 2020 the year of building relationships.
You’ve got a few actionable tips to get you started, and I hope it helps. Now feel free to drop a line. We’d be happy to hear from you!