When I talk to salespeople who have been in the business for a long time, they most often agree that the last two or three years have been the hardest time they have gone through.
The global downturn has hit many salespeople really hard. Yet, there are those who have thrived and prospered during this downturn and kept many of their customers loyal and built good long-term relationships with them. What’s the secret?
There isn’t one! What you need to do is concentrate on how you can increase the costs of them switching to other suppliers and also reduce the chances of having to fight price wars to keep your current customer base.
Here are some ideas:
See how your customers use your products or services: Could you link in with how they buy, use and finish with the product, so it doesn’t become a commodity, but an actually benefit to them in the long run?
Increase the value of your own time and commitments to them: Are you and your company aligned to the important things that your customer requires? Do you know what they value most in their relationship with you? What’s important to them? Make sure you are performing in areas that will enhance your relationship with the customer.
Your customer’s expectations may have changed during the downturn: Are you still serving them to the level that they expect? Talk with the buyers to discuss what extras you can provide to help them hit their business objectives.
Get closer to your customer to look for new ways of dealing with current business concerns: A genuine business partnership is built on trust and support. You can build extra value in your customer’s eyes by supporting their business in innovative ways. You need to keep up the differentiation between you and your competition, so that, even if your customer is approached by someone else, the value you offer far outweighs anything they could get elsewhere.
On our sales courses, many people ask for advice on prospecting for new business, getting new clients and getting through to new buyers. Few, if any, ask for suggestions on keeping current customers loyal. It would be good for you to assess your current customers and not get complacent about the quality of service you offer them.
Spend as much time as you can nurturing the relationships with your current customer base. It’s easier than having to prospect for new business because you’ve lost old ones. Keep a close eye on what their main concerns are and you’ll keep your long-term customers happy. And that can only be good for business!
Sean McPheat The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling