By Robin Lines
Closing a sale is one thing, but businesses thrive on repeat custom. Your salespeople should always be looking for opportunities to develop and grow a relationship with your customers. In doing so, they significantly increase your prospects going forward.
Relationship building isn’t an exact science. Your customers are unique in their own way, and what one client may value or appreciate, another will not. However, there are techniques you can use to delve into what makes a particular customer tick. When you understand that then you can personalise your proposition further, ensuring that your business becomes their first port of call in future.
It sounds obvious, but there are times when it may seem advantageous not to listen. Sometimes our business wants to push a client to a specific solution because it is beneficial for us. Other times, we may simply want to give them what they want because it seems advantageous for us both. However, sometimes, what they want and what they need are not the same thing.
By listening to what they tell us about the problem they have, we may well be able to serve them better. It might not be the most beneficial deal for us in the short-term, and it might not be quite what they think they want at the time, but when you can sell something that exceeds the customer’s expectations, you’re on the fast-track to gaining their trust and loyalty.
Look for Ways to Add Value
It doesn’t matter if it’s bagging a discount from a Pay-TV provider or getting a discount for cash from a supplier, every customer wants to feel like they have a great deal. At times, you will find that a deal can be made more appealing by offering something extra. This doesn’t even need to be something expensive. I’ve known businesses throw in some free stationery or an additional six-months of complimentary product support to make an offer more enticing.
A common tactic of very successful salespeople is to seek an opportunity to give away a pen during an initial meeting or later negotiation. These items are comparatively low-value but are welcomed as friendly gestures and impress upon the client your willingness to be generous.
Make Your Pitch a Conversation
We’re all familiar with the hard sell or pressure pitch, and the truth is, we’re all fed up with it. Nowadays, such tactics are associated with door-to-door salespeople or disreputable timeshare outfits. Very few people have the patience to sit through a prolonged session being bombarded with statistics and figures.
Furthermore, people eventually switch off. They might be too polite to tell you that they’re not listening anymore, but they probably are not. Even if they agree to buy something, they won’t return as a customer, and that’s if they’re not on the phone to cancel within the hour.
Your pitch needs to be a conversation in good faith, with a free exchange of ideas. As I mentioned above, you must listen to what your customer is telling you and be attentive to their needs. Don’t merely try to tick off every box on your pitch list, or bombard them with information. Take your time and respond when appropriate.
Find Common Ground and Interests
We all have a life outside of the office. When selling, you should try and bond with your customers over something unrelated to work. Perhaps you both have an interest in sports or are fond of the same actor? Maybe you’re both currently reading science-fiction novels or like music from the 1960s?
People want to do business with people who are similar to them. Whenever you are able to find these little pieces of outside-life, try and spend a few minutes during each meeting casually chatting about them. They can be useful small icebreakers before the formalities of meetings, but furthermore, they help your client see you as relatable. They will remember that when they’re in the market for services like yours.
Fibbing is the practice of insecure, shady salespeople. Even if you can wing your way through a sales meeting with insincerity and manipulation, your client will eventually rumble you. Nobody is going to be in a hurry to return to a business that has treated them poorly. If salespeople manipulate someone to seal a deal, then it reflects poorly on the entire company.
Always remember that in today’s connected world, unhappy customers are unlikely to tell just ten people of their experiences. They can now tell thousands in a couple of minutes.
Keep in Touch
You’ve made the deal, and your customer is happy. What’s next? You need to keep working at the relationship. All the conversations, generosity, productive meetings and negotiations in the world will not guarantee you the next sale. The more time that passes, the higher the chance that your customer will consider other suppliers. It pays to keep in touch, with a friendly email or call every now and again.
Some salespeople feel uncomfortable about keeping in contact with a client. They fear they may be badgering or pressuring them. What is often appreciated by clients is checking-in on whether they are happy with the product or service you sold them? Do they have any feedback? Are they experiencing any other difficulties?
Keeping yourself in your customer’s mind and showing that you genuinely care about their experience with your business is a great way to continue developing the relationship and securing more business in the future.
Need Help Developing a Prospecting Strategy?
Robin Lines Associates offers fully bespoke and comprehensive sales training programmes for any size business. With other thirty years’ experience, we can help your people become consistent sales winners and game-changers for your company’s prospects.
Professional Services Consultant
I'm a highly experienced, versatile and dynamic training facilitator and business coach, dedicated to assisting leaders in helping their people achieve their potential and realise goals. I also deliver a range of Consultative Selling and Key Account Management programmes, equipping salespeople with the skills, tools and methodologies to help them win and outsell their competition.