In this day and age of commodity pricing and reverse auctions, it is a wonder we have an opportunity to keep a customer from one sales to another. The thought of developing customer loyalty just feels like a pipe dream for most b2b sales people.
And, I will say if you are making price the only differentiator available to your customers – then loyalty is a pipe dream.
You gain Customer Loyalty due to a focused effort by you to create positive experiences for your customer. Believe me when I say it is hard work. Some recent research shows it takes a minimum of ten positive events to offset one negative event a customer receives while doing business with you and your company. Sounds like another reason for sound team selling.
Okay, so are you curious as to how you can develop customer loyalty with your customers? Here are the five major steps to gaining customer loyalty…
- Make Connections using Common Ground
When you initially meet with a key executive, make certain you have done your homework regarding this individual as well as the company and their industry. Establish early in the process that you are more than the average b2b sales person by being prepared. This information will usually lead to an opportunity to create a common bond and begin the building of rapport and trust.
- Develop and Culture a Key Relationship
Now you are clearly focused upon the key executive and you are building a trust based relationship with this executive. The more you show you are a business person who sells the faster you will move up the ranks of credibility in the eyes of the customer. Learn how to show the executive how they also win due to your expertise.
- Expand Your Relationships
The sales superstars know they must develop relationships across all levels and functions of the customer organization. This ability to make the board networks of contacts will become a huge benefit later in the sales process. My personal experience with industry sales superstars have shown a unique talent of working the networks in a wide and deep pattern. The major benefit you will find from this effort is you will have an extensive early warning system when competitors are around in their company. Knowing the competitors are present allows you time to counter and response to any thing they may be doing to harm your relationship.
- Focus on the Long Term Relationship
Focusing on the long term is a key component of driving customer satisfaction. It shows you are not a flash in the pan – here to only make a sale and then disappear until the next contract renewal. Currently I have a situation where a sales person / company sold us a major piece of office equipment. This is critical piece of equipment in our opinion. However, after promising the moon, our sales person disappeared for over three years – no assistance or guidance when we needed it. Now the old contract is up and suddenly he is showing up (unannounced) pushing a newer technology than our old one. However, we have zero trust in this sales person or his company (equally bad support) and we are looking for other solutions. If this sales person had been using a long term relationship mindset, he would have been checking with us periodically, providing some guidance to our problems or at a minimum finding the right person to help us. That is a long term mindset. He, unfortunately chose a short term – make one sale and get out – approach and we have zero interest in helping him make quote.
- Continuous Improvement Keeps You at the Top
Okay, without this step all your previous efforts will crash around you. If you continue to do the same things over and over while expecting different results – well that is the clinical definition of insanity. Every day you can be learning something new and improving your relationships and your knowledge. And, I should add here, being seen by the key people within the customer’s organization – especially during problem issues – is an enduring aspect of your relationship maximization or optimization. People need to see you sweat during the bad times – yet, you are showing others how much you care about their success due to your presence and participation in the solution finding. Show you care about the customer and surprise – they will care more about you.
There you have the six major steps to gaining ground on customer loyalty with your accounts. These steps are really quite simple yet require a total focus on your part to fully develop with your customers.
However, you can do what you set your mind to doing at a high level. Join the ranks of the B2B Sales Superstars using this guide.
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