Three Tips to Drive Stronger Customer Relationships

Three Tips to Drive Stronger Customer Relationships

Sales.  There aren’t too many businesses that I am aware of that aren’t looking for more sales.  As competition increases our competitive advantages become tougher to communicate.  The rise of social media has made it easier to share your brand.  At this same time it has also made it more difficult to set yourself apart since every company has access to the same audience.  We go out of our way to implement new tools that measure our productivity.  Things like Salesforce, Google Analytics, and Facebook Business were in their infancy a little over a decade ago.  While all these tools provide us with more information they may not directly lead to sales. Technology was supposed to bail us out and make it easier yet it seems to do everything but.

Are you Relationship Driven or Transactional?

Virtually every piece of information I’ve ever read on sales makes sure to point out that increasing your revenue is directly tied to the relationships you build with clients.  Yet most of the actions we take focus on the transaction.  Like an assembly line your prospect moves into the top of the sales funnel.  Then through a series of qualifying steps they either self-select or are eliminated as a contender.  Whatever is left over should convert provided you ask the right questions, listen effectively, ask for the sale, etc. 

We track numbers.  How many people are we getting in our funnel.  How many close.  What’s our cost of acquisition?  Our average value per sale?  This is all compiled in spreadsheets, or reports through our CRM.  Like building a widget we hash over the numbers to see where we can improve, or if sales aren’t happening, where the machine is broken.  

Many businesses don’t have a sophisticated method for tracking sales.  In fact it may even be difficult to find the time to enter all the information needed to correctly analyze success.  It can also lead to a very impersonal approach to the whole situation.  After all most of us are selling to a person.  A live body on the other end of the transaction ultimately chooses you, not your business when it comes to closing the deal.  If you’ve ever watched Shark Tank, many of the deals are the connection the entrepreneur makes with one of the sharks.  Sometimes good ideas are passed over because the relationship was never built.

That is probably happening in your business right now.  You spend money to get the lead.  Then you spend time and resources to close the sale after which the client is passed off to service their need.  What are you doing after the sale to maintain the relationship?  Here are some tips to help you boost sales performance and reduce your costs to acquire a new customer

1. First Make Sure You are not Transactional

Seems silly, right?  Of course you are not transactional.  You love your customers!  But do they love you?

Recently I was meeting with a client and the subject of car buying came up.  My client mentioned a local dealer where the actions on the sales floor was what you would typically expect for a busy dealership.  All the salespeople were running around in an environment that resembled controlled chaos.  That is except for one.  He was very easy going, never pushy, and didn’t seem to have any sense of urgency about him.  Don’t let that relaxed demeanor fool you.  When it came to sales he couldn’t be beat.  His production was easily 40% more than the next best salesperson and he did it all with the grace of a ballerina.  The other members of the team were good and probably did everything their sales trainer expected. Yet they couldn’t keep up with the top producer.  That’s because when the sale was complete so was the relationship.  The rockstar sales associate took sales well beyond the transaction and for that reason had people beating down his door.  He knew the value of the relationship was more than just asking the right questions during the sales process, or being pleasant throughout the transaction.  He discovered the relationship went well beyond the car leaving the showroom where the others merely focused on the client in front of them.

2. Make Your Connection More Than Just the Sale

When was the last time your car salesperson called to wish you a happy birthday?  Did they ever check to see if your vehicle was working as well as expected other than a week after the sale?  Do they contact you after the anniversary of your purchase?  My guess is no.

What the rockstar sales associate figured out was by maintaining the relationship well beyond the close of the sale they were able to get more repeat business and increase the number of referrals.

If every sale is about the relationship then why wouldn’t you check in when you have nothing to gain?  Because that’s where the relationship matters.  When there’s no financial benefit to you the client will build greater trust.  When your customer feels like they matter they will not only return when their is a need, but they will become your ambassador and bring you even more business.  Every great salesperson I know does more than the bare minimum to maintain the relationship.  They truly care about the needs of their client and will help them even when it does not directly benefit them.  Do your part:

  • Schedule regular times to check in.
  • MAIL a card or handwritten note.
  • Recognize special events (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.)
  • Be there when S#!t hits the fan.  Find ways to help.
  • Get to them through their stomach.  Surprise them and their team with a treat.  Cookies are a great choice.
  • Do something unique. Be creative when celebrating your relationship.

3. Be a Resource

Sure, your customer may know to go to you for what you sell, but will they contact you when they have a need you can’t fulfill?

The greatest gift your business could ever receive is when a client trusts you enough to seek your advice, or connections, for something you cannot directly help them with.  That is why relationships become so important.  Who you know can become a team of experts who support each other to serve the needs of their customers.  This is why networking is so valuable and every business owner, sales person, and customer service representative should do everything they can to expand their connections.  It’s not always what you can provide that matters. 

Sometimes your clients need something that falls out of your scope.  By becoming the trusted advisor you act as a resource to your customer.  When they come to you first it allows you to facilitate a new relationship.  Your connection strengthens both with the client and the referral.  Everyone benefits.

Three Tips Cost Virtually Nothing

If you are able to master the art of building relationships using the three recommendations provided here, you can significantly improve sales growth as a result.  The best part, every example provided cost virtually nothing to implement.  When you compare that to the cost of acquiring a brand new customer the benefits speak for themselves.  But first you must take steps to understand your sales transaction and the culture that exists in your business today.  Find the opportunities to be more to your customers and it will pay you dividends!

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