Sales managers understand that a sale is so much more than just having a convincing pitch during a meeting and closing the deal. While strong skills to capture the order are certainly important, they only scratch the surface of what it takes to build long-term client relationships.
Loyal clients are an essential component of the most successful companies. As you build your customer relationships, you are viewed more as a trusted advisor, and there is more consideration given to additional solutions and opportunities.
(To calculate customer value and potential - download our free Customer Value Worksheet™)
Here are a few key tips to establish happy long-term clients:
Deliver what you promise
As a sales manager, it is your responsibility to make sure that the promises made by your team are reasonable and that they are delivered. Failure to do so will impact in the short-term, and seriously erode the foundational trust needed for the longer term. It is a simple goal. It is crucial to deliver on it.
Educate your clients
Most people (including your buyers) continue to educate themselves so that they can be better informed and more effective in their respective roles. This includes Internet research, attending events, reading specialized reports and speaking with people that they feel contribute to their learning.
It is important to invest in supporting your sales team with information that your customers find of interest, of value and of relevance. Help your sales people become the ‘go-to’ experts when there are questions or when a buyer needs a fresh perspective on problems or needs. Do not be afraid of losing your ‘advantage’. Educating clients makes your sales team more useful and more valuable. Your team should have a plan of delivering value above and beyond what customer’s were initially expecting. Educating your prospects will allow you to build a foundation based on trust, which is key to a long-term client relationship.
(Check out our Customer Insight Scorecard™. It helps your sales people deliver value while uncovering important client insights.)
Buyers know when your sales people are not being sincere or honest. If there is any chance they are left with the impression of insincerity or distrust it will immediately and irrevocably derail your relationship with the client. The biggest lesson to learn is: Ensure that your sales team’s key mission is to always be in service to the client.
Make your client’s lives easier
Success for a sales team can be measured by the extent to which they are able to make their lives easier. Clients will have a genuine appreciation for someone who is able to make their lives easier with ideas, solutions, products, timing, pricing or even just the space to think. If your team adheres to this, you will see a noticeable increase in appreciation and loyalty.
Have a conversation, not a sales pitch
No one likes being “pitched” to. By having an honest, comfortable yet professional conversation with your clients, they will be more willing to engage with you, provide key insights and consider the solutions your team offers to them.
Make sure that your sales process does not provide your solution too early in the process, particularly before enough information is garnered to align real value and to differentiate your solution.
The best way to gain the appreciation of your clients is to provide them value. This is the key to success. Build into your sales process an easy way for your sales people to understand what your customers consider important to them. How well are you delivering it? How can you improve? You can consider standardizing this as part of the discovery process or design engagement tools or satisfaction surveys that more explicitly request customer response.
Maintaining client relationships
By following the above suggestions and by ensuring that you have a continuous process of learning about a client’s interests and passions, your team can forge long-term relationships with clients that will pay significant dividends for years to come.
Resource: Download The Insight Sales Process™ to review the strategy and tools to implement these concepts.