Customer Retention Starts with the Sale

The old adage “it’s easier to sell to an existing customer than a new one” is 100% true.  The ability to keep customers should be a primary concern for any sales person.  If you have a sales job where you get to sell more business to your current customers, customer retention is very important.  If you have a sales job when you sell a new customer they are turned over to someone else to manage, customer retention is still very important because you don’t want a bad reputation of customers leaving your company.

Customer retention starts with the sale.  The sales person has to first accurately represent to the prospect the products or services.  In essence, you as the sales person are laying a foundation of expectations for the prospect.   You don’t want to create expectations in excess of what you can deliver. Meeting a customer’s expectation may not be good enough to keep the customer.  For sure, not meeting a customer’s expectation will lead to lost business.

Another thing to keep in mind is the implementation of your product or service.  The implementation sets the stage for the ongoing relationship you will have with your customer.  Make sure the customer knows what will happen in the implementation and do something that will “Wow” your new customer.  The “Wow” factor is very important.  If you start off with something really great, you create a great first customer experience that will often stay with the customer for life.  Of course, you can’t “Wow” them at the start and then have service erode over time.

Relationships drive customer retention.  As the salesperson it is your job to create the open communication that is necessary to maintain the relationship.   Make sure that the people in your company who will be interacting with your customer are introduced during the implementation.  Everyone that will interact with your customer needs to know the person they will be working with.  For example, introduce your accounts receivables person to your customer’s accounts payables person.

Lastly, set up specific times to review with your customer how the relationship is going.  The review can be formal or informal, but you want to regularly review and rate your performance.

Keep in mind these things and keep more customers.

Time For Customer Appreciation

The winter holiday season is a time when people tend to express appreciation more than any other time of the year.  For the most part people seem to be more aware of family and friends and what those relationships mean to them. gift box1

For the professional sales person, this is also a great time to show appreciation to current customers and potential customers.  Because everyone is bearing gifts during this time of the year, you want to make your appreciation stand out from all of the other sales people out there who are just going through the motions

Therefore, you want to make your appreciation unique.  One way to do this is to take into account what your customer or prospect likes to do.  Do they have a hobby?  Are they planning a vacation?  If you really want to make an impact with your appreciation gift, make it personal to them.

Another consideration is the delivery.  If you can, deliver your appreciation gift personally.  If it is not possible to deliver it personally, consider using FedEx or Priority Mail.  For a few extra bucks you can make a lasting impression.

Of course everyone has the economy top of mind.  You don’t have to get expensive appreciation gifts to give memorable ones.  The fact that you gave an appreciation gift and you made it personal will go much farther than an expensive give given with no thought.

The thought behind the gift is the main thing.  Give your appreciation gifts with the attitude that you want to genuinely do something for your prospect or customer.  The by product of giving is you build a closer relationship with you r prospect or customer.  If you give with the intent of you are going to get something in return you need to adjust your thinking.

Enjoy the holiday season and use this special time of the year to show appreciation.

Yes! We Can Do That.

We live in a time where customer service just seems to be lacking. You go into a restaurant and it seems in some cases as if you have ruined their day by showing up. You call a company and get customer service and you’re made to feel as if you are anything but a customer. It’s almost as if you have to apologize for giving some of these companies your money. What’s up with that! There are some companies that are giving excellent customer service and respond, care, and show appreciation for every customer. However, it seems that as a whole, this thing about customer service exists more on the plaques and walls then it does in the actions and minds of the employees.

As a sales representative of your company, consider it is your responsibility to ensure that the internal reality of your organization matches the external claims you are making to your prospects. If operations is not performing at the level you are representing it performs, you need to do something about that. You can’t idly stand by and say that’s not my job. If you do, you soon won’t have a job because no one will buy from you.

When I was in Memphis working for a large transportation service provider, my boss created a unique culture around customer service. His name was Bob. He started a campaign called “Yes! We can do that.” Bob created the campaign to increase our focus on customer service. If a customer made a request, we would honor the request and respond “Yes! We can do that!” It was a tremendous success! We had jackets that had the slogan on it, flyers, and banners. The entire business unit was aware of those magic five words and it was amazing. It was amazing how the customers responded too. You might think at first blush customers would seed to take advantage of a situation. But just the opposite occurred. Customer were so excited about the campaign and wanted to see it continue, they were careful not to abuse the situation. Most importantly it caused our entire organization to reflect on why we were in business and who was the most important part of our success, our customers.

So why not start a campaign of your own? Focus on the customer. Let them know you appreciate their business. Taking good care of current customers is the best way to obtain new customers.

What about your organization? Do you have the “Yes! We can do that.” mentality?