A massive challenge for anyone in sales is prospecting for net new business while trying to retain your current clients. Choosing where to spend your energy or how to divvy up your time can be challenging. I know how busy you all are running around doing "stuff"!
It costs businesses significantly more to acquire new customers than it does to retain them, as most successful businesses understand the importance of maintaining outstanding customer relationships.
Customers are bombarded with more attractive offers all the time and at lightning speed. They may see possible opportunities based on price, quality or service. Yet, I guarantee those are not the factors which cause them to switch from or encourage them to stay with you and your company.
Customers rely on their emotional experiences with salespeople more than any of the traditional factors, according to research by the Peppers & Rogers Group, which showed:
- 60% of all customers stop dealing with a company because of what they perceive as indifference on the part of salespeople
- 70% of customers leave a company because of poor service, which is usually attributed to a salesperson
What these statistics speak to and show is the important role that attitude and emotion play in determining whether your customers leave or stay. It’s mission critical for salespeople to understand customer attitudes and regularly collect their feedback.
I am confident most salespeople can answer the “who, what, when, where and how” of a business relationship. The single biggest missing element is “why.” Why do your customers do business with you? Is it because they feel valued and well taken care of? I guarantee the “why” factors will have monumental impact to you and the loyalty of your clients.
STOP TAKING RELATIONSHIPS FOR GRANTED
A picture speaks a thousand words...
Taking things for granted is an awful mistake we all make. A huge and unfortunate strategic error salespeople make is taking their customers for granted. When success sets in the "complacency syndrome" kicks in as most in sales start to develop a strong position and thought process revolving around their products and their services as being top-class, unique and something their customers can't live without.
Taking your customers for granted is equivalent to shutting down your business since it is your customers who call the shots now.
You as a sales reps and the offerings within your company are not indispensable given the fierce competition. Your customers have so many options that they do not need to stick with a company which takes them for granted. They would much rather jump ship and go to a company who respects them, understands their needs and treats them well.
Taking your customers for granted will permeate throughout your company. Remember your company exists because of your customers.
STOP GROWING YOUR COMPETITORS NEXT GREAT CLIENT
Chew on this for a moment...
How do you truly know you are delivering value to your clients?
Are you really giving them what they really value more effectively than your competitors?
How sure are you?
It’s not a good idea to take a customer’s loyalty for granted. Meeting their expectations is just not good enough. Your customers want to know you care. Develop a learning mindset and learn to help your customer get what they need, an outstanding experience.
Some tenured sales folk think because they’ve been around a long time, they’ll always be given top priority by their customers. I truly believe it’s more effective to act as if no one knows you or recognizes the value you bring as this makes you prove it every day.
When is the last time you went belly to belly, face to face with your customers and asked them, "What value do my services, products or solutions create for you?" I am waiting for your answer, still waiting, still waiting; this is what I thought - it has been awhile.
I encourage you all to think about this question "What does value add look like to your customers?" I bet all of your customers want to increase their sales and grow their customer base, correct?
Here is a personal exercise... Ask yourself these two questions and then write down your responses to:
How do I help my customer's gain a competitive advantage?
What is my customer's perception of value in working with me?
STAY TOP OF MIND OR BECOME AN AFTER THOUGHT
Sustaining value in the minds of your customers requires persistence and extreme focus. Avoid assumptions at all times with your customers as their needs change frequently.
Ask yourself the following:
- What’s happening right now to my customers?
- What changes if any may be happening to them right now?
- What problems may they be facing?
- What difficulties are they encountering in their marketplace?
How many of you can answer these questions? If you aren't spending quality time in getting to know your customers better than I guarantee someone else will be.
To understand the meaning of value, you must first put yourself in your customer's shoes and see the world through their eyes.
HOW WELL DO YOU UNDERSTAND THEIR BUSINESS?
Creating true, authentic and genuine relationships by spending informal time with your customers will help you to understand them and their businesses.
What’s important to them and their business; the return will far outweigh the investment.
How well do you truly know your customers and how well do they know you?
With all sincerity, when you get to know your customers inside and out, you can personalize the attention you give them.
In a previous blog, 3 Ways A Servant Led Mindset Helps Sales Reps Crush Quota, true leadership as a sales rep is the ability to affect change and influence people inside your current accounts.
The more you can lead with a servant led mindset the better you will be in the long run. The aim is to be seen as a trusted adviser. When your input is greatly appreciated by your customers, it’s less likely they will engage with your competition. Stop taking your customers for granted.
STOP TREATING THEM AS CUSTOMERS BUT AS CLIENTS
You may have noticed I have referred to customers as customers. How many have caught onto this?
To all the salespeople, sales managers and those in executive management, do you view your customers as customers or do you view them as clients? How many view them as clients but treat them as customers?
How do you know when a customer becomes a client, or the other way around? When a client becomes a customer this becomes a problem.
Are you building customers or are you building clients?
You can't expect to get Nordstrom's level of service at Target or Walmart!
Think long and hard about this one... Are you viewed as sales rep of products and services to your customers or do you enlighten, add value, inform, advise, counsel, nurture and become an advocate on behalf of your clients?
Is it your personal preference to be sold or served? When you’re in the marketplace as a consumer do you seek out professionals whom you can trust or sleaze-balls selling you and then moving on?
Your personal commitment should be to build sustainable relationships with clients who value your professional advice rather than to find customers who make a one-time purchase.
If you and your company fail to keep your clients as such, they could turn into customers
I realize there are quite a few salespeople and their companies who take great care of their clients' needs but this is just not enough in today's complex business environment. It’s the ideas, insight, information, help, and guidance you provide which earns the privilege of doing business with them.
Initiate discussions focusing on their future needs, upcoming projects or areas of potential growth. Truly get to know your clients and quit treating them as customers.
I will leave you all to think about this...
Are You Growing Your Competitors Next Great Client?
I understand, I get where you all are coming from. I have walked a day in a life of your shoes and still do on a daily basis.
I am fully committed to helping your sales team integrate social aspects and modern strategies into your current sales process to grow net-new business. I want you to get results. This is why I am passionate about doing this the right way, the genuine way, the authentic way!
In 2016, Larry was recognized by ENX Magazine, “The Difference Maker” as someone who is making a difference inside the copier channel. Larry is passionate about helping sales reps succeed in creating their online brand image
You can find more blog posts inside the Social Sales Academy website.
I appreciate getting the opportunity to share my LinkedIn stories. Integrating the use of LinkedIn was my “game-changer” in the highly competitive copier world. With great pride I transform, challenge, coach and inspire B2B Office Technology Sales Professionals to grow net-new business by helping them tell their story and communicate integrating the use of social. My commitment is to help office technology dealers thrive in a drastically changing marketplace. You can follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Social Sales Academy and on my podcast at Selling from the Heart.