A few months back I asked for examples of what you do to get through to decision makers. We got some great ideas and best practices and compiled many of those into a free ebook. Not to be overlooked is how to continue building and strengthening our relationships with customers.
After all, our best and cheapest source of new business is from our customer base.
And you can bet that your competitors are trying to romance them. If the extent of your relationship with them is solely handling orders and transactions, they will eventually wander elsewhere if they see a better deal.
Don’t let that happen.
What your customers can’t get elsewhere is YOU. Businesses don’t buy from businesses. People buy from people. Go out of your way to do the little things that form a personal connection that is unique to you.
Kim Andersen, a sales manager, asked for ideas from her group about what they do to keep customers happy and strengthen relationships. Here are some of the ideas from her reps.
Send out magazine subscriptions pertaining
Give away books to customers. I remember getting a great book on management from a placement service I once used in my inside sales manager days. It was titled Managing to Have Fun. To this day I remember who I got that book from.
A smokin’ idea. In the lobby of one of my customers I saw a Thompson Cigar catalogue with the owner’s name as the addressee. Since he was a very busy man and never seemed to have time to see me, I needed a way to get his attention. Since there were several issues of that catalogue lying there, I felt they would not miss one. I called Thompson Cigar Company and gave them his ID code on the back of the magazine. They were able to tell me exactly what brand he had ordered regularly. I sent him a box of his favorite cigars that Christmas. From that point forward he thought I was the most resourceful salesperson around.
Memberships are remembered. In my territory, fishing, hunting and the shooting sports are very big. I recently sponsored a customer into a “fish and game” club that I belong to. The customer also enrolled his son. They will spend hundreds of hours together doing what they love—and our company will be remembered for it.
Focus on spouses. For example, Joe customer is a sports fan and rarely takes his wife out. Joe’s wife enjoys Broadway shows and fine dinners, not ballpark hot dogs. At the beginning of the local theater season I gave Joe a copy of the theater show schedule and asked him to pick out a show that he and his wife would enjoy. Dinner at a nice restaurant and a great Broadway show, Joe’s wife was in heaven. Keep in mind, if Joe’s wife is not happy, Joe is not happy. It also gives me more opportunity to get close to Joe and see what makes him tick. Often a customer does not let his guard down in his office but might relax in a more casual situation.
Don’t forget the kids. Finding out what your customer’s kids enjoy also can pay relationship dividends. Whether it is sports, fishing, music, and figure out a way to impact the relationship between your customer and his kids. One of my customers had a child over five years ago, when the child was born I bought a US savings bond in the name of the child. Guess what, that customer is still a customer.
Send an anniversary card. Send it one year after they have placed their first order. This works well if the relationship has developed over the year. It forces them to think back and usually be surprised how far things have come in just one years’ time, and remember all you have done. It’s also a reminder that you still value their business and that you haven’t forgotten how it used to be. It shows you don’t take their business for granted.
Sell healthy. When calling, if they had a bad cold, or I could tell they were sick, I would send a can of chicken noodle soup and/or roll of vitamin C tablets. Enclosed a note saying “Always looking for ways to make things better for you.”
Send “Thank You” notes! For first orders, large orders, unusual orders, for tours on plant visits, or time spent during a meeting. They are very quick and easy to do, but gets your name in front of them again, associated with a nice sentiment. Be sure to be sincere! Fake or form written thank you’s can cause opposite reactions.
The key to relationship building is to find out what your customer and his/her family is passionate about. Then make an impact and be thoughtful.
What do you do to add a personal touch with customers?
Art Sobczak helps sales pros prospect, sell and service accounts more effectively by using conversationally, non-sales messaging, and without “rejection.” Get a free ebook of 501 telephone sales tips at businessbyphone.com/501-tips-ebook. Email editorial @mhwmag.com to contact Art.