We all know that the cardinal rule of sales is to solve a problem and not sell a product. When you solve a problem the product sells itself.
Why? Because it earns you points in the trust department. It doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t mean it’s going to last. It has to be proven over time. Consistency counts. It builds confidence in your ability to deliver. If you live up to your promises, eventually, you’ll gain customer loyalty.
I realize that it’s easier for businesses to build that loyalty when they deal with clients on a regular basis. The familiarity factor works in their favor. They have time to develop connection, consistency and form trusting relationships. They have many opportunities to demonstrate reliability and honesty both in words and actions. Credibility and belief is established. Trust is earned. It becomes the story customers tell their friends when they refer the business.
Then, there are the other businesses – those who have to reach out to create their own avenues of opportunity because they lack consistent contact. These are businesses that provide needed products or general services that are used rarely if ever, and their client contact seldom goes beyond the initial signing, except perhaps at renewal time.
If you’re in one of those businesses, you’ve solved their initial problem and as a result, sold your product. But your job is not done. What have you done for your client lately?
Be honest. How many times have you thought of about a client who hasn’t needed to do anything except renew every year? Do you tend to take them for granted, just because they stayed with you? Do you tend to be more concerned about feeding the pipeline than you are about the people who are your bread and butter?
Too many businesses get lazy about maintaining existing customers because they’re too busy chasing new ones. “Not your fault,” they say, because they haven’t had a fire to put out.
If that sounds like you, think again. Your customers didn’t trust your product when they signed that first contract. They took a risk and trusted you. But, you risk losing them if you don’t look for ways to maintain that trust. Just because they’re not in the forefront of your daily life is no excuse. That yearly mass mailing of Christmas cards and calendars is meaningless if the sender doesn’t demonstrate value.
Although your customers may not see you often, when it comes to how they buy, you fall into the same category as all other companies and businesses. Customers have the upper hand these days because the majority have educated themselves about their wants and needs and know that they have options.
- They want to know you’ll be there when they need you and that you’ll be responsive and timely on your callbacks.
- They want to know that although you may be conducting business, your judgment is based on their individual needs and that you would never sell them what they don’t need.
- They don’t want to hear mumbo-jumbo terminology that only people in the business understand. They want you to explain in simple terms what it means to them.
- They don’t want to hear you say, ‘Just trust me’ when you haven’t proven to them why they should.
- They don’t want to be told where they can look for answers. They’ve come to you to provide that.
- They don’t want answers to questions they haven’t asked.
- They want to know you’re listening to them.
- They want to know you care about them – and that extends far beyond their name on a piece of paper.
The name of the game is Human to Human. Always was. Always will be. Oftentimes it breeds customer loyalty better than the best contract you could write.
Human business behavior and empathy, along with the 3-C’s (Competence, Communication and Connection), breeds trust and loyalty. It gives people a story to tell about you.
Can you help build that story for you customers when you seldom see them?
I can think of at least 10 ways, just off the top of my head. How many can you think of?