In many industries customers often become more than customers. They become friends. Not necessarily the kind you would invite to non-business gatherings, but people you truly care about and who care about you.
You may think you are in the business of selling or manufacturing stuff, but you are not. Even if your products are sold only to other businesses, the business doesn’t make the buying decision. A person does. You are in the people business. Learning to show people that they are important and cared about will help you make both the initial sale and long-term sales over the course of time.
No matter what you sell, every customer should receive your best service during the sales process and after. That service should be delivered in a way that shows you care about the customer.
Good salespeople listen far more than they talk. They ask meaningful questions and then listen. The best salespeople even take notes.
A Minneapolis business legend, Harvey Mackay, has a long list of information he requires his salespeople to gather about customers. This includes not only information required to do business, but a few personal details such as birthdays, whether or not they’re married, children’s names, and whether or not they have pets. That information is used to make contacts and to start conversations with customers after the initial sale.
It also helps the salesperson…and customer, develop a relationship beyond the sale. It’s far easier to do business with people you know than it is to do business with someone who shows up to peddle something every once on a while.
People like to do business with people who are like them. People who demonstrate that they care about them beyond making the sale. People who keep them in mind when something new that might be of interest to them pops up. They come to rely on businesses and salespeople they know they can trust to have their needs and interests at heart.
Here is the real trick to building real, long lasting relationships – there is no trick. You need to understand that you can’t build a relationship with a business or an organization. You can only build relationships with other people.
Even the biggest companies and organizations are nothing more than a group of people. Real people. People who value real relationships with other people. Even salespeople.
To build a real relationship you must have the other person’s interests at heart. If you do not, they will eventually figure that out and you will become just another product peddler that they will try to avoid.
Customers are people too. Never forget that simple, too often forgotten fact because you do so at your own peril.
One more thought….if you’re a Sales Manager or a business leader who expects your people to build relationships with your customers then you should know that your people are unlikely to build those relationships unless you have built one with your people first.