Written by Sean McPheat |
So, you’ve located the prospect, qualified the lead, made the contact, secured the appointment, made the presentation, presented the proposal, asked for the sale and finally closed the business.
You now have a customer; that is someone who has done some business with you.
But now what do you do? The objective must be to gain more repeat business from that customer and increase their lifetime value.
How do you turn that customer into a loyal client?
Understand this: creating long-term client relationships is not as easy as it once may have been. Today’s consumers are sophisticated, educated, savvy buyers who have a whole world of information at their fingertips.
You need to develop an account management strategy for each of your customers to maximise their profitability over the long run.
Add the fact that your competition has become fiercer and are constantly trying to “buy” your customers and the result is buyers who are far less loyal then in the past and stand ready to “trade up” the moment you miss a beat.
You must know how to build “relationships” and become an integral partner in such that you transcend the lure of a discount.
In reviewing your account base for more business remember three words:
Care – for the Customer
The dictionary definition for “to care” means to be concerned.
The first thing you must do is demonstrate that you are concerned; that you care for your customer and their business.
Note the word I used was “demonstrate” and not “talk about.”
You can tell the customer how much you care but you must show that in what you do. How often do you call to ensure their needs are met?
Not to see if you can get another order; but to see if you can be of service?
As you work with your base, you want to contact your customers and show that your concern for their well-being and success goes beyond the commission you already spent.
Send an email asking new sales questions, continuing to sell your services and the fact that you are always available.
“Hi Jane; of course, you know we sell software solutions, but I noted the last time I was there that you were having some problems with your file and print servers. I was just wondering if I may be of some help.”
Let your customer know that you are there to assist even in areas where you do not get paid to do so. Keep notes in your CRM database, keep your eyes open for industry news that may apply to the customer and ask questions.
You did things like this when you were trying to impress the prospect to get the first sale—now keep it up as you are managing the account.
Cultivate – the Relationship
Most salespeople believe that the way you cultivate and build a relationship is to go out of your way to become drinking buddies, golfing partners or talk about your kids or pets all the time. It’s much more than that.
The correct path to a deep relationship is to continually provide valuable services, solve problems and become a close “partner” to your customer.
By doing this, the personal relationship will automatically develop—but it will be sincere. People are not going to remain loyal to you just because you sent a bottle of scotch or ‘butter them up’ with false flattery every time you see them. Be sincere and help them.
“Jane, I came across this article on international mortgage rates and I know you are looking for a new location, so I thought you could use this information…”
A good way to cultivate is to ask the customer to explain and boast about their achievements. As they do this, it gets you deeper in to the company and closer to the client.
“Jane, since you took over IT at XYZ, you increased efficiency 85% and I am glad I was able to help with our software solutions. But I would really be interested to know how you overcame so many other challenges like that high turnover you had in the helpdesk department. How did you overcome that?”
Having quality conversations like these is what a successful account manager does in their daily schedule.
Consult – Always
Continue to be a consultant, which means to give advice; to be a counsellor, industry authority and mentor.
“Jane, there is a conference next week on international shipping; it might be a good idea if your shipping manager could be there.”
“Jane, I know you have a stand at the upcoming conference, and I would like to give your sales team a few extra tips on using our CRM that will help them maximise the amount and quality of the leads they capture…”
For solid account management: Show you care. Cultivate and broaden the relationship and continue to be a consultant.
Interested in taking some Account Management Training? Our Sales Training is practical, interactive and will provide you with the account management strategies that you need to oversee, cultivate, and maintain your accounts.
If you’re leading a team of account managers, then please check out our Sales Management Training which will provide you with techniques on how to manage your sales team to farm their accounts more effectively.
Updated on: 18 December, 2021
Originally published: 8 July, 2008
Search For More