I’ve been in the sales industry for the past 19 years and what I’ve learned is that it’s very rewarding, comforting and profitable to build long-term relationships. Offering great customer service, products and services that allow you to maintain clients for the long-term is a huge benefit to any company. Now don’t get me wrong… I am still growing my business and I’m still marketing and prospecting and trying 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 when they can work together long-term. In fact, it saves times, money and frustration for both parties when you get to know your clients and keep them for the long haul.
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 with is like a robot and not a real person. I’m a real person, a human being – immediately I try to make a connection with my clients by being myself. 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 find a new market.
- Be transparent. I tell prospects like it is as far as what my company can and cannot offer. 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 see a prospect as a good fit I let them know. 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.” Others take two to three days to respond. Getting back to people in a reasonable time is just good 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 I have. I 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 your voice or actions and that’s what 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 using your products and/or services is not only will they most likely become long-term clients is that they’ll refer you to others as well. Now that really is a win-win!
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/investment industry.