I’ve been in the sales industry for the past 18 years and what I’ve learned is that for many it’s more rewarding, comforting and profitable to build long-term relationships than to rebuild your client list each month. Offering great customer service along with great products or services allow you to maintain clients for the long-term and is a huge benefit to your company. Now don’t get me wrong… I still want to grow my business so I’m still marketing and prospecting to gain new clients every day but I’m not starting over at zero every month.
Long-term business relationships take time and money but in the long run it’s a win-win for both the business owner and the client. In fact, it saves time, money and frustration for both parties when they work together to build the relationship to continue on a long-term basis.
I know some business owners intend on building long-term relationships but struggle with turnover and are confused as to why they can’t keep their clients around. If you are in the business of building long-term business relationships there are several ways to ensure the success of the relationship.
**Be Yourself. It really surprises me when I call up a sales person or business owner looking for a product or service and the person I’m speaking to is clearly being very fake. I’m a real person, a human being and I can spot fakeness like most everyone else. Be yourself and try to make a connection with your prospects. Know your target market – if you aren’t like them in some way and are having trouble communicating with them then perhaps you need to do more research or find a new market.
**Be transparent. I tell prospects exactly what my company can and cannot offer them. I want us both going into the business relationship with all the cards on the table. It needs to be a win-win for both and if I don’t think my company is a good fit for a prospect I let them know. I’m in the business to build long-term relationships and that takes time. I know I’m not going to get the business from every prospect I talk to. Don’t lie about what you can offer just to get a client because it will come back to bite you when you can’t deliver.
**Be available. I’m not saying you need to be reachable 24/7 but you need to be able to respond to your clients questions or concerns within a reasonable time. I’ve found that many people have different ideas of what a reasonable call back or email reply time is. Some people say, “I’ll get back to you within 24 hours.” I for one like to get back to people within an hour or two but typically can get back to them much sooner. This is just good customer service and you may be surprised at how many businesses out their offer excellent products and services but lose clients due to very poor customer service.
**Be approachable. I want my clients to always feel that they can come to me and that they are the most important client that I have. I always work with my clients if they are having issues and always offer solutions to their problems. Don’t be a person that others dread calling, if your client isn’t comfortable calling and talking things out with you then you aren’t going to keep them for long.
**Be passionate. You’ll easily keep clients long-term if you are passionate about what you do. Prospects can sense excitement and passion in others and for most people it draws them in. Everyone wants to be excited and passionate about something and when you are passionate about your products and services – and you can deliver on your promises – others will become passionate, too. The best thing about having clients passionate about working with you is that not only will they likely become long-term clients is that they’ll refer business to you as well. Now that really is a win-win!
Work on being all of the things above and you’ll find it easier to build the long-term relationships you are striving for.
Danae Branson is the founder of Elite Scheduling Services. Elite offers appointment setting solutions for external wholesalers, financial advisors and other professionals in the financial