Modern selling strategies are centered on relationship selling. One’s ability to develop and maintain long-term customer relationships is the foundation for your personal and professional success. But this requires a very clear understanding of the dynamics of this process, from your perspective as well as your customers.
For your customer, a buying decision usually means a decision to enter into a long-term relationship with your company. It is similar to a “business marriage.” Before the customer decides to buy, he can take you or leave you as he probably doesn’t need you or your company.
He may likely have options and choices, one of which just may be not buying anything. But when your customer makes a decision to buy from you and gives you money for the product or service you are selling, he becomes dependent on you. And if he has had even one poor buying experience in the past, he may be uncertain or nervous about establishing another kind of dependency relationship.
So what happens if you let the customer down? What if your product does not work as you promised? What if you don’t service it and support it as you promised? What if the product or service is completely inappropriate for his needs? These are all very realistic situations that a customer may have racing through his mind when it comes time to make the critical buying decision.
In many cases, the quality of your relationship with the customer is your strongest competitive advantage. This relationship is what may separate you from all others who may have similar offerings. In fact, one would hope that the quality of your relationship and the trust that your customer has placed in you and your company is so strong that no other competitor can get between you.
The single biggest mistake that causes salespeople to lose customers is taking those customers for granted. You cannot afford to relax your efforts and begin to ignore your customer!
It takes time and effort to build a trust-based relationship with a customer, and you must never take it for granted. Your goal should be to maintain that relationship with your customer for the life of your business.
Pay attention to your existing customers. Let them know that you appreciate them. Look for ways to thank them and encourage them to come back and do business with you again. Treat your customers so well that they are willing to refer his friends.
Many times it’s the small things that help to strengthen relationships – eye contact, using the customer’s name, listening . . . really listening to what they are saying. We all communicate in different ways . . . be aware of this! Take every opportunity to let your customer know how much you value their business.
Don’t let the “flame go out” in your business marriage . . . each customer should be that “special someone!”
David Saxby is president of Measure-X, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based measurement, training and recognition company that specializes in customer service and sales skills training for utilities. He can be reached at 888-644-5499 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the Measure-X Web site at www.measure-x.com.