How To Build Strong & Lasting Customer Relationships

Can you imagine the following scenario? Your customer profile consists of people who solely value your products and services, who dont make decisions based solely on price, and who dont try the competition occasionally. Seems like a dream, doesnt it? Well, this can be your reality with some hard work, value positioning and building of strong customer relationships. When a salesperson (you) is valued as an asset to the customer, he becomes ingrained within the customers organization, making it virtually impossible for others (the competition) to get any business.

So what is the best way to make yourself valuable and build customer relationships? Here are some excerpts from an article from small business sales training web site, SalesprenurEDGE, providing some insight on how strong customer relationships are formed.

Getting Started Developing A Foundation

It is important to realize that a solid customer relationship is not developed overnight; it takes time and effort. When establishing a new relationship with a customer, it is important to pay attention to the little details that make a big difference. As a rule of thumb, everything you do should make it easy for the customer to do business with you. Here are some examples:

1. Respect the customers time, show up on time and stay within the time allotted for your meeting / discussion. 2. Learn as much as you can about the customer and start thinking of ways you can help make their job easier. When working with a customer, in the back of your mind think of ways to make the customer a hero within his or her organization.

The reason that building a foundation is important is in the customers mind there is some level of risk involved in making a purchase decision. This is not a personal reflection on you, but a natural part of the buying process. If there is nothing that removes some of the risk from the mind of the customer, he will not make a purchase. Simply do the right thing by your customer and treat him the same way you would like to be treated if you were in his shoes. Over time, you will reap the rewards of building a strong foundation.

Strengthening The Customer Relationship

The strength of a customer relationship occurs during and after a sale has been made, as well as when leading up to future purchase decisions. In fact, the strength of a customer relationship can be measured by how many times you have cycled through the sales process with a customer. The key to making this an ongoing process is, again, being able to continually add value to the customer. Be aware that a common pitfall here is that you may think you are adding value, but if your customer doesnt perceive value, then you have not provided value. Here are some are some examples of what you can do provide value and strengthen your relationship with the customer.

1. Understand the customers needs. 2. Admit mistakes. 3. Pick up the phone.

What To Do When The Customer Says Can I Try it for a Few Days

Can I Take This Home For A few Days And Try It?”

“What If I Take It Home And Dont Like It?”

Have you ever had those questions?

Heres why the answers to these questions are so important. When the questions are asked, your answer makes or breaks the sale. Almost every time.

When the customer asks if they can take the product home for a few days to try it, they are asking for a few reasons; Lets say you sell vacuum cleaners; They may want to simply use your machine & bring it back without paying anything (Im sure this is the rarest case), they may want to be sure it will work for them at home the same as it does here, or they may simply want to defer making a decision. This question is usually asked if they want to take home the product without paying for it first.

When the customer asks if they can return it if they dont like it, they have generally seen and tried out the product in your store. They usually ask this question if they are paying up front for the product.

Have you seen ads in the Newspaper and Magazines that say “Try Free For 30 Days”?

Do you know why they make that offer? Because it works. It generates more sales than it generates returns. But the BIG reason the “Free Trial” is used is that the customer cant see the product. They cant touch and try out the product before they buy. If theres no “free look” the customer usually wont buy. In these cases the buyer has paid up front for the product. But the offer is “Risk Free”. Meaning, a refund is easily obtained.

In a retail store, they can see, feel, try out, & test the product to their hearts content.

In our store, when a customer asks if they can return it if they dont like it (this is on non-returnable products), I ask “If it works as well at home as it works here, will you be happy with it?”

The answer is invariably “Yes”. I say “Thats why we have a warranty, If the vacuum cleaner (or whatever) doesnt work as well as it does here, were here to service it so that it does. Fair enough?”

The answer is almost always “yes”. Had I just said “No, you cant take it home and try it”, any reason I gave would have sounded bad to the customer.

On vacuum cleaners that we will let them take home and bring back (just one brand), we say “Well do better than a few days. Well give you a full two weeks to use it in your home. If you dont like it for any reason, well exchange or give you a refund. Your choice. Fair enough?”

Why do I give two weeks, when they only asked for a few days? Because they are far more likely to keep the product if they dont feel the daily pressure to make a decision. Giving 30 days is equally valuable.

We wont let the customer “Borrow” a vacuum cleaner to use in their home. We have heard from several retailers that swear that they make sales by letting customers “try out” the vacuum cleaner before money changes hands. My thought is that the people who bought would have paid up front if asked.