As a Key Account and Sales manager for many years, I have been asked what the main reason that prospects turn into my clients and those clients not only become long-term customers but refer others to me: treat your smallest customer like your biggest and provide fabulous customer service to everyone. Here are some of my better secrets for engaging with clients:
5. Working at a CPG company in a very retail oriented environment, my small business clients were always looking for new promotional ideas and events that would drive store traffic and increase revenue. I very quickly realized the best method of “knowledge-sharing” would be to maintain a master data base and continually add successful and creative marketing ideas that could be shared. The list quickly grew to over 100 ideas and I would share it at least once or twice a week with clients so they could personally select idea(s) that would best suit their taste, effort and budget.
4. While tradeshows are important, the excitement and entertainment factors surrounding them tend to get clients and prospects off-topic and difficult to focus. We would follow-up with local/regional “hotel shows” several months later to reconnect clients/prospects with the new lineup highlighted at the tradeshow while also making special appointments with businesses unable to travel to the national show. This method really lends itself to a much more personal, one-to-one interaction, better understanding of their individual needs and feedback and besides, we were doing something the competition either was too lazy or had not thought to do.
3. To follow-up on a medium-size purchase, I drove 7 hours to join with my customer to visit a remote casino who had just installed some of our product. We not only helped the owner/user of the system with training but also let them know that we appreciated their trust in us and valued their business. The result was more business when they expanded and two referrals from the end-user, one who was at the casino to see the equipment in action.
2. A referral called and said he and his wife were opening up a new store and wanted to purchase from my employer. Knowing they were new to the industry, I connected them with a buying group, 3 other suppliers, found discounted fixtures, spent several hours building a recommended, attractive opening inventory, visited their location 3 times during their opening week to help them set up and brought in some refreshments the day they opened…all for a location 70 miles away.
1. When “brown” went out on strike for 3 weeks, I personally hand-delivered my local client’s weekly shipments to 23 locations. Oh, I had another motive – it afforded another chance to “touch” the customer, see if they needed anything else or wanted me to help them with anything. More than one commented on how I not only took their order but brought the buying process “full-circle” by completing the delivery process. The competition relied on a replacement service that delivered product later than usual and also had many incomplete shipments. Thinking creatively, going the extra mile and showing my clients how important they are goes a long way.
The above stories are all examples that with a little effort, thought and planning, you can be unique, memorable and different from your competition and thank your clients for their trust in you by helping them be successful.
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