Closing the sale, that mystical, elusive, magical moment when your sales presentation climaxes and the “Tipping Point" is reached, is really just the beginning. Your relationship with your new customer will grow from here. Or will it? That, my friend, is up to you.
Getting the order is great! Getting paid is even better! Enjoying the benefits of a new, long-term customer relationship is priceless. As political strategist James Carville would say, “It's the relationship stupid. " This new, fledgling relationship must be cultured and grown like any other. Careful attention and concern must be administered. Time and attention must be invested and cultivated for all to benefit.
In this day and age, most customers assume quality, they assume quick delivery, they assume a competitive price, but they demand proper attention. Your level of customer service must be finely tuned so that the efforts made by you and your company are perceived to be quite individualized and properly applied. Customers may forgive errors, but they will not forgive lack of attention. Mistakes, properly and quickly addressed usually will not hinder the relationship, even if a compromise is required, but if you forget about them after you receive that order, it may be the “kiss of death" for the relationship. You will be vulnerable to the next salesperson that comes along to court that customer.
How do you pay proper attention to your customer? The answer varies by industry and needs, but there is a baseline which I believe to be a common denominator among most customers. At the very least, include each customer contact in your newsletter or ezine list. Ask your inside customer service personnel to make a quick monthly or quarterly phone call “just checking in" on the pulse of their general satisfaction. Send a customer survey annually requesting their input on your customer service performance. Send a regular, personalized email announcing some new product or service that they might be interested in learning more about. Mail a copy of a news story or clipping from a newspaper or industry publication where your customer or contact has been featured. Include a short note complimenting them.
If you really want to separate yourself from the other competitive companies and salespersons, send a short, personalized, hand written “thank you" card or note after receipt of the order. This effort almost never happens and you will be remembered for it.
The close of the order is indeed the opening of the door to your long-term relationship with your new customer. Treat them well, never forget them, be attentive to their needs and keep asking for additional opportunities to be of service and you will have a profitable, growing, long-term customer relationship.
Daniel Sitter, author of the highly anticipated book, Superior Selling Skills and the popular, award-winning e-book, Learning For Profit, has extensive experience in sales, training, marketing and personal development over a successful 25 year career.