Building Relationships – Winning an account is a great accomplishment and is usually celebrated by the boss and the team as this means more business and more money. Just as any other accomplishment achieved requires maintenance and consistency so does maintaining a consistent relationship with that account holder.
Every business works extremely hard to acquire new customers. In order to acquire the business, your first step would be to make initial contact with the customer either through email, phone or face to face. After initial contact you now have the customer’s attention, they may purchase your service or product based on their needs.
Let’s take a look at a few examples:
Scenario 1 – a newly opened print supplies business opens and they contact you to tell you about their products and services and also how competitive their prices are. You advise them that you already have someone that supplies you with toners and stationery for your office and you decline their offer. They call back one month later and remind you of their services and products because they would really like to stay front and centre in your mind in order to “win your account.” Six months pass and every month they call you to share the same information. One day they even show up at your office with sample products and a free giveaway bag. After one year of courting you – you eventually start purchasing items from them. However, the difference in behaviour is they no longer call and check up to see if you need supplies and months pass sometimes before you even remember that they still exist.
Scenario 2 – an automotive company has sales representatives who prospect at different events and one day while attending a business luncheon you were approached by one and you were intrigued by the cars they sold and also the features and benefits of these vehicles. The sales representative calls you weekly as they know you really want to change your vehicle. They contact the bank and have the relationship manager at the bank call you, they also contact the insurance company and arrange for everything. Over 6 months have passed and you have encountered other automotive sales representatives but the original one that you met stands out in your mind as they always followed up no matter what. Therefore, when you were ready to make the purchase – you automatically called the representative who contacted you consistently. You finally receive your new vehicle and the representative called you a day after the delivery of your car and also a week after. However, one year has passed and you have never heard back from that representative.
Scenario 3 – While collecting a document for work at a business place, you are greeted by a young man that states he is in the business of website marketing. Your business is seeking global visibility through a website and social media. You exchanged contact information with the young man and through email – he sent all of the benefits that would be derived from doing business with him. The rates were not competitive, however, the solutions provided were value-added and robust. After 3-4 months have passed, you now have your website running and you are extremely pleased with the features and flexibility that the website provides. However, 12 months have passed and apart from an email that you receive monthly with a bill for maintenance of the site – you have no communication or support dialogue with the developer as to how the content can be improved or new innovative ways that you can generate more traffic to the site. You are somewhat displeased with the quality of after sales service that is provided and you contact the developer to request some minor changes for the website – he is completely unavailable, he does not return emails and you feel frustrated as you believed there would be some support provided after the site was developed.
In all the above scenarios – we must recognize that winning the customers’ account is very important, however, building strong relationships is much more important. Customers do not want to be treated as transactions instead they would like to be treated as people. All customers want value added services.
My challenge to you is think of your business offering and look at how you can offer value-added service to your customers – building relationships…..
Statistics have shown that people don’t remember what you did but they do remember how you made them feel. How do your customers feel after doing business with you – are your customers your biggest fans? Do they speak highly of your company? Do your team members feel proud to work at your company? When they wear their branded shirts with your company logo and go in public areas do they feel proud to represent your brand and company?
If the answer to any of these questions is NO! Your company specifically your leaders need to look at why the team may feel this way and also why the customers feel this way because as we stated before human beings usually remember how you made them feel! How do you make your team members feel? Do you really show them how much you care? How do you make your customers feel?
Many companies focus on building accounts – SELL, SELL, SELL!!! After these prospects become your customers – how are you building those relationships? Do you really care about your customers as human beings vs. a transaction or a sale?
Tips for Building Relationships
- Give back to your existing and loyal customers even if you are a monopoly. Customers like to know they are saving money or they are getting value like a free item or service for a month such as coupons and complimentary gift certificates.
- Use the information in your customer records such as birthday, anniversary, upgrades or specials in relation to a previous purchase a customer made to build customer relationships.
- Courtesy calls for customers just to see how their business is doing and also how they are doing as people. This can be scheduled such as every 6 months.
- Do business with the companies that do business with you. We should all support each other especially the people who support you. This will allow you to get to know your customers on another level as well.
- Be human. This last tip is quite simple but if not applied can damage your business. A company is not made up of equipment, machinery, products etc. but people are the ones responsible for how your employees feel and how your customers feel! Be connected in your words and actions, be deliberate when working with your team and customers and make sure you show compassion in your interactions because “People won’t show you how much they care, until you show them how much you care.”
My inspiration for this article was inspired by “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brené Brown! (***As a leader, your most important role is to grow and develop people – I recommend that you give this book to your team to read because if your team members grow then by default your company must GROW)