How do your customers or prospective customers feel about you? Are they in a quality relationship with you? What actions are you taking every day to build on that relationship and ensure a lengthy, trusting and happy partnership?
There is always a new buzz word for how you should sell; strategic selling, consultative selling, partnership selling, social selling and so on. Surely all sales is about is creating and maintaining relationships? Business relationships should be tended to as lovingly as you would tend to your husband or wife – and in surprisingly similar ways.
Should you treat your customers like you treat your lady? “Well, sales is a lot like making love to a beautiful woman!” – Swiss Tony
Love is a Verb – not a Noun
It’s easy to whisper “I love you” but real love is displayed in the actions you take rather than the words you say. Love is a verb, it’s the things you do, the sacrifices you make, the listening ear, the understanding and noticing how someone feels, the staying quiet and just giving a hug. Love is felt when you make an effort. What actions are you taking to make your customers feel special? Do you remember birthdays? Children’s names? Send hand written letters? Keep regular contact and offer your advice and support with no motive other than to help them? You can promise the moon on a stick but it’s all just words – until you take action!
Treat your customers like your partner
People don’t want to enter into a ‘salesperson – customer’ relationship anymore. Don’t approach a customer as a conquest to be made, treat them as an equal partner. Constantly investigate how you can support them with their business and the challenges they are facing. Become an integral part of their development. Once your customer regards you as a member of their team rather than an external supplier you become less dispensable and infinitely more trusted.
Are you blinded by love?
(They’re a terrible customer but I daren’t lose them!) Don’t get obsessed. Whilst you’re in a bad relationship and afraid to leave you will miss all the other incredible opportunities out there. If you care so much for the wrong customer imagine how great business could be with the right one.
Know when to walk away
Often no deal is better than a bad deal. How many people do you know that have stayed in a bad relationship rather than walk away and risk being alone? Quite often it’s the deals you don’t make that help your business move forward. Know your worth and stick to your values (and your price). Being prepared to walk away and being open about that with a customer will build your perceived value and demonstrate your faith in your product or service.
Without open, honest and regular communication it goes wrong.
Clear and regular communication stops misunderstandings. It allows everyone to know where they are and how things stand. Never assume that the other party is thinking the same as you. Be open about how you see things, own up to your faults and mistakes and give feedback. (This is may seem slightly cold for a loving relationship with your wife or husband, although the principal is the same for business and marriage) When people stop talking and avoid issues they are less than happy with emotions fester. Soon the small things become the big things and clients can be upset for what seems a petty problem. Always ask for feedback, look for ways to continually improve and don’t avoid conflict for the worry that you may upset people. Ignoring problems will create much bigger conflict down the line.
Don’t take them for granted or one day they will be gone
Time doesn’t guarantee faithfulness, in business people will always have their radar tuned to new opportunities and there is always someone looking to take your customer from you. Don’t take them for granted or believe that they’ll never leave you. Treat all customers well: keep in regular contact, listen to their changing needs and act as if every meeting is your first and you’re trying to impress. Nobody likes being taken for granted.
Don’t forget what ‘you’ want out of the relationship
All too often we can be so enchanted by someone that we create a false reality for ourselves. We’re so desperate to impress and bend over backwards to please that we forgot that 50% of the relationship is what you want. Business has to work both ways, never forget what you need from a deal and have a walk away point firmly in your mind. If the relationship becomes one sided it breeds resentment and ultimately the relationship will sour. It’s OK to feel how you feel. Never compromise too far on a sale.
Beware the friend’s zone
We’ve all been there – “I like you, just not like that, you’re like my best friend”. In relationship terms this is a simple case of waiting too long to ask for the business. Once you have built great rapport and empathy with a prospect it can be hard to ask for the order. After all that hard work what if they say no? So you carry on chatting and laughing and drinking tea, then you leave with nothing more than a feeling of regret and a wasted morning. Don’t miss your chance to ask, you never know, they may just say yes!