There’s someone in my wider network who only calls me every couple of years when they are looking for their next job. To begin with I was fine about it. Of course, I’d have a chat and see if I could help them. But soon I realized it was a one-way street. They only called when they needed something.
The same thing applies to the relationship between customers and the sales people who supply them, and the use of the word ‘relationship’ is deliberate here. There’s a risk that sales people only call when they need something. So how about trying one new thing this year?
Think of your top ten customers. How often do you call them other than when you are looking to sell them something? If the answer’s ‘never’ or ‘hardly ever’ then what does that say about how they might see your ‘relationship’?
I’m not suggesting you stop selling to them. But it’s important to be there for them when you don’t need them. In a balanced relationship there is give and take. Value is added on both sides.
This requires planning and skilled execution:
- Planning – If you don’t schedule these calls, they won’t happen, because you’ll always be too busy.
- Skilled execution – what are you going to talk about? Most customers are usually too busy to just ‘chat’, so there’s got to be more to it than that. The call might be:
- To see how they’re getting on with your product or service.
- Do they have any questions about it?
- Sharing some insight, something you’ve read that you’re going to send them, or an idea you’ve had that might help them.
- It could be you want to find out how some new initiative or project is going at their end. Being curious and interested is so important.
- And maybe right now, just checking in with them and asking if they are ok is also a nice thing to do.
This approach links so well to Stage 1 of the Gazing Performance Systems Decision Making Cycle.
Great conversations lead to exciting outcomes. Do this well, and watch as your customers become more loyal, the opportunities appear and your pipeline steadily improves!