Building Customer Relationships - A Must!
September 24, 2015
Building strong customer relationships is a must for any business. Although in certain businesses such as retail, e-commerce, or walk-in service establishments (restaurants, dry cleaning, etc.), it might seem less important. Regardless of the type of business, however, building relationships does matter.
The success of any business...even those involved with "quick sales" such as Amazon, Uber, or a local merchant...is about understanding customers, how they think, behave, and react.
Marketing Before Sales
Closing a sale is a progression of events rather than an end in itself. Marketing is the effort spent to increase visibility, reputation, and awareness of a business. Sales, on the other hand, is the process that turns strangers into paying customers. Generally, a business cannot have sales without marketing, and a business can never stop marketing! Every potential customer will not turn into a paying customer and every paying customer for one reason or another will not remain loyal forever. So, marketing is never ending!
During the marketing phase, the business must know itself. What is it known for? How does the business stand out from its competition? Why should customers come to the business in the first place?
Building a Reputation
There are numerous ways to market...website, social media, newspaper, email, direct mail, or word-of-mouth. Customers are constantly being bombarded with an overwhelming amount of marketing materials wherever they are...home, work, or vacation. Competition is intense; therefore, a business must stand out from its rivals. One way of doing this is by establishing a reputation for quality, service, and integrity. Whether a business operates face-to-face or online, reputation is important.
Some businesses are more involved in relationship building than others, but all businesses are very much in the relationship business. Businesses that do not understand this philosophy soon find a continuous process of finding customers, losing customers, and finding new customers.
Understanding a Key Relationship
There is certainly a direct relationship between marketing and sales. Marketing helps potential customers know about a business and helps the business build its reputation before any actual interaction takes place. The sales process takes place after marketing has effectively done its job.
When a business is involved in face-to-face selling, building relationships becomes even more important. Trying to sell too quickly is a mistake many businesses and salespeople make. In certain industries, when relationships are not developed, there are no sales or possibly short-lived sales.
Establish a Bond
Trust is established when bonds are developed between individuals. This is more than simply discussing a company's products or services. It is getting to know a prospect...hopefully, later a customer...on a level other than strictly business. What is inspiring them to purchase? What do they do for living? What kind of family do they have?
Finding a common ground with prospects and customers develops a bond and trust. Whether someone is on the sales side or the purchasing side, the individual is likely to be a parent, interested in sports, or has something else in common with the other person. Everyone likes to relate to others when they have something they can share. This commonality is a great starting point for a long-term, lasting relationship.
Business owners and salespeople do well when they spend time learning about prospects and customers as individuals rather than only as someone to purchase goods or services. Those who master this art are much closer to winning someone's trust than those who only see dollar signs.
Making the Sale
The sales process is like an engine. There are many parts working intricately together to make up an engine. Likewise, "closing" is simply a part of the sales process. When sales presentations are properly delivered regardless of the product or service, needs addressed, and trust built, then making a sale becomes simple.
When a business takes care of customers and has a genuine concern for their welfare, trust is built leaving little room for the competition. It is wise to remember that no one will ever count the number of ads they see, but they will remember how they are treated and the type of relationship they have with a business. Strong relationships made today build long-term sustainability for a business tomorrow.