2023 has arrived with a bang. Happy New Year. You know what would make it really happy for me? Having a crystal ball that can read the minds of my clients. That way I could know what they were thinking. Are they truly happy with my company’s output? Do they value our involvement with their company? Are we spending enough time with them, or should we be paying more attention to their special needs? Should we spend more time with them, or will our “digging deeper” be considered pestering them?
These are questions all sales leaders struggle with. But wouldn’t it be great to know the answers?
My top New Year’s resolution is to get more dialogue this year with my clients and prospects, so that I have a better handle on serving the people I care about. With the threat of recession on the horizon, I want to know what issues my clients are struggling with so we can better adapt our services to meet those challenges.
Why is this so important? Because even when you think you are having meaningful discussions with customers, they may be thinking you don’t care enough. For example, according to research by the Peppers and Rogers Group, simply meeting our customers’ expectations is not enough. Customers are looking for us to be “exceptional.” Their research says customers rely on their emotional experiences with salespeople more than anything else when deciding whether or not to stay with the company. For example:
• 60% of all customers will stop dealing with the company if they sense indifference on the part of salespeople
• 70% of customers will leave a company because of poor service, which they usually blame on the salesperson
• The majority of defecting customers won’t tell you there’s anything wrong before jumping ship. In fact, 80% describe themselves as “satisfied” or “very satisfied” just before leaving.
These statistics show the delicate role that attitude and emotion play in determining whether customers leave or stay.
What do customers typically value?
Here are four strategies shared by Ken Dooley in his Sales & Marketing newsletter, that I believe create value and build a bond with a customer.
1. Come up with new ideas
Your expertise and knowledge about what’s happening in your industry and theirs should give you some ideas to share with your customer. Make a serious effort to share not only information, but your unique insights. It should build their confidence and trust in you and your company.
2. Prove yourself again and again
Some salespeople think because they’ve been around a long time, prospects and customers will automatically come to them first. In reality, customers are bombarded with attractive offers all the time. They are hit with deals claiming to have better pricing, quality and service—factors that could cause them to move to another company. I like to believe customers are always thinking this question: “What have you done for me lately?” When I know I must prove it every day it makes me try harder to deliver more value from the customer’s viewpoint.
3. Stay focused on exceeding expectations
Retaining your value in the mind of your customers requires persistence and focus. Customers’ needs change frequently, so avoid making assumptions about what they need or want. Ask them.
Research what’s happening in your customer’s world and share your findings with them. Start a discussion about it. What changes are taking place in their market? What specific problems are they facing? What difficulties are they encountering in the marketplace? What are their opportunities?
If you don’t have current up-to-the-minute answers to these questions, you’re in no position to meet their needs. Stay in touch. Stay in contact with them frequently to find out what challenges bug your customers the most.
4. Go beyond the problems that customers share with you
You may be doing a good job taking care of customers problems, but it’s also the fresh ideas, unique information, and exceptional help, guidance and insights that you provide your customers that earn you the privilege of doing business with them and make you valuable to them.
Initiate discussions that focus on their future needs and upcoming trends that they might not be aware of. Or point out areas of growth potential that they might not have taken the time to think about.
Identify even more value for your customers
My crystal ball sees me sitting down with you to discuss some of the ideas mentioned in this blog post. Give me a call if you want to talk. Let’s make 2023 our best year yet.
To help get the ideas flowing, there is a helpful checklist in the Resources section of our website that addresses how you can create more value in your customer relationships.