Relationship marketing is a much more effective method of building a business than the typical pushy salesman approach.
Making the sale should not be your immediate goal. Connecting with your prospect and building a relationship is what should be foremost in your marketing strategy. You want to accomplish a long-term relationship with your customer not just a quick sale.
A customer needs to find a business they can feel comfortable with, and trust in, to provide what they need. Building relationships is a crucial step in this process. It may take several interactions, whether by e-mail, phone or in person, with a customer to make a sale. Do not make your customer feel pushed or intimidated into buying. There are many things you can do to show your potential customer you are interested in more than just “making the sale.”
1. Focus on Customer Needs – Don’t make your customer feel that all you want is their money. Take the time to find out what they really need and let them know how you can fulfill those needs. You have to put your customer’s need for problem solution above your need to make the sale.
2. Really Listen to Your Prospects – Listening to your prospect is common sense to us but, unfortunately, in our need to make a sale, we might overlook this. Don’t let outside distractions take away any of your attention. Reserve 100 percent for your customer and really listen to what he or she is saying to you. Do not let your feelings or your ego stand in the way of listening to your customer. Don’t go by the book. Every customer and situation is different and you have to follow the current conversation not a script.
3. Be Available – Always, always have your contact information such as e-mail address, phone number, etc. readily available to give to your prospects and customers. They need to be comfortable in the fact that they can reach you anytime they need you.
4. Offer Information and Resources – Offer free information, reports, resources, etc. on your website, blog, or newsletter. Let your customer know you want to help them with all their needs. Provide a weekly mailing with helpful tips, hints and information. Show them you are willing to go the extra mile to help.
5. Personalized Greetings – Don’t just take the money and vanish. Stay in touch with your customers to help build that lasting long-term relationship. Send out personalized holiday greetings, well wishes etc. with greeting cards, postcards or e-mail. Even just sending a hand-written thank you note will go a long way in forming that lasting relationship.
6. Provide Ongoing Support – Many times after a person purchases something, customers have questions or concerns about that purchase. Make sure you provide ongoing support by e-mail or phone so their questions and their concerns can be addressed. Unfortunately, too many times, companies seem to disappear once the purchase is complete. Don’t let that be you and your company.
7. Be Honest – In our eagerness to make the sale, we sometimes stretch the truth or completely abandon it. Never make promises you cannot fulfill or claims you cannot live up to. If the customer needs something you cannot provide, discuss possible options or alternatives or refer them to someone who can take care of their needs. Never make false claims even if you do have good intentions.
8. Show Respect – This goes without saying, no matter how difficult the customer or situation. There are customers that can certainly try our patience, but you must never lose your temper with a customer. Talk to them calmly and let them know you will do what you can to take care of the problem. Show them that you can work through their crisis and take care of the problem. Your calmness and confidence will help calm them down and reassure them that all will be well again.
9. Customer Appreciation - Offer your customers discounts, incentives, prizes or rewards any time you can to show them you appreciate them. There are companies that have incentives for new customers but nothing for existing customers. This is definitely not right. You need to show your existing customers you appreciate them as well. Send coupons, free gifts, etc. Doing so could mean a lot to your customer and your business.
10. Connect with Your Customer – Make the effort to actually connect with your customer as a person, not just to make a sale. Gone are the old school ways of making sales with pushy sales pitches, intimidation, scare tactics, etc. We now know relationship marketing and mutual respect and trust sets the tone for long-lasting buyer/seller associations.
Even though you are in business for yourself, think of your customer as your boss. You work for your customer. You are there for your customer. You need your customer more than he needs you. Always value your customer and show them they can value you.