While a large and diverse marketing team is an important prerogative for any company, the quality of the sales team is equally as important in generating successful sales. It is natural to cultivate focus towards one specific facet of the sales process; whether that is the presentation, the initial contact, the interest-generation, etc. It is essential to remember that successful selling is a long, complex and varied process, with no individual segment outweighing another in importance. Because the sales process for an individual consumer is so time and resource intensive, eliminating steps where beneficial can make a huge difference, but only if that elimination does not detract from other processes. If you can maintain relationships with your customers to the point where you are able to generate leads from satisfied clients, the entire process will be expedited. Here are some tips for how to maintain and benefit from a long term, professional, business to client relationship.
1. Avoid making concessions: It is staggering how common of a practice it is to lower the price or make other ‘slight’ alterations in order to gain one customer. There are multiple reasons this negatively affects big picture sales returns, but consider the simplest issue; with word of mouth as the most successful form of advertising, any customer who you make a concession for will naturally spread news of that leeway to other potential customers. Any leads from this customer will not be able to provide a legitimate full-fledged contact and you will be stuck in a rut immediately.
2. Repetitive Contact: Depending on the size and nature of your client, a rhythmic contact ought to be established between a consistent sales person and the client. A standard rubric of contacting them every 3-6 months with a set of questions can be perfect for maintaining the appropriate relationship. Some questions that have proven to make a difference are: how is the solution working for you? What about our process led to you making the purchase? And, most importantly: Do you have any peers that would be interested in the solution?
3. Name-Drop: While this may seem obvious, it is an important and delicate part of conversations with leads. It is important to get explicit permission from your clients to use their name in a conversation with their referrals; should you not and the deal goes sour, your original client will be upset at the association and any possibility for future positive reinforcement is eliminated. Use the names you have, just be sure you really have them.