Many business owners approach sales from the perspective of what the customer can do for the business – in other words, the dollar value of each customer and “closing the sale.” That is common, but it’s also a completely backwards approach.
Without customers, your business is nothing.
If you approach your customers from the perspective of what you can do for them, you will succeed. Your marketing strategy and your sales process must revolve around “how may I serve you?”
That is the essence of relationship marketing and relationship-based customer service. How do you do this? By making each prospect feel comfortable; being trustworthy; providing a solution to their problem.
1. What does your customer need? Demonstrate a genuine interest in helping them solve their problem and you will create a relationships no matter if they purchase from you or not:
● Listen: when you’re focused on closing the deal, you are focused on yourself, not the customer. Give your customer 100% attention and really listen to what they are saying. Every person is unique and every problem is unique. To provide the best solution, you must know exactly what the situation is. AVOID scripted or canned replies. These transparently say to the customer, “I want to make the sale so would you hurry up and say yes!” – canned replies do NOT say, “I care about helping you.”
● Based on what the customer needs, offer information, resources, options, solutions and ideas. They will remember your integrity and the care that you took in helping them and that you went the extra mile to do research and offer innovative solutions. Be HONEST! If your offering doesn’t meet the customer’s needs, say so. False claims will come back to haunt you! Be honest, and they’ll be back – and/or they will refer friends.
● Treat everyone with respect… especially when there’s a problem. Put yourself in their shoes – how would you feel, and what would your expectations be? Always remember that helping the customer solve their problem is your #1 priority!
2. Be easy to reach. Don’t make your customers hunt you down. They won’t. If you have a small business and cannot afford a receptionist, make sure you answer ALL phone messages or emails in the same business day if at all possible; or the next day at the latest. When people decide they want something, they want it NOW. Don’t get left behind because somebody else was available!
3. Stay in touch and show them you care. Customers LOVE hand-written thank you notes and birthday/holiday wishes. There’s nothing like a small gesture like this to make a customer feel special and it takes almost no time to do. Who doesn’t love a personalized thank-you? Don’t let “out of sight, out of mind” ruin a relationship. Customer appreciation goodies like special discounts, incentives and prizes for loyal customers are a great way to show you care. Many companies offer new-customer bonuses, but neglect their old customers. Keep existing customers happy by showing your gratitude!
4. Offer ongoing support. Even if a product doesn’t ever need repair or replacing, the customer may have questions. If you offer a service, the same applies: people forget things and they always have questions. Rule #1 is to never treat ANY question as a dumb question. To the person asking, it’s perfectly valid and reasonable.
Focus on adding value to your customer. They will notice. They will appreciate it. And they will reciprocate with loyalty and referrals!
Inspired by a blog on http://blog.ideacafe.com/