It’s Valentines Day, and I wanted to make a relevant connection (hopefully) between how we engage and nurture relationships with people that are important to us, whether they are our friends & loved ones or our customers.
How do your business take care of it’s customers? Before they become a customer, during that tight process of purchase (and maybe even a project, working together), and last but not least; in the long run? And do you have a strategy for this?
We all know that the cost of acquiring a customer is so much higher than maintaining one. How is it, then, that many organizations don’t have a well formed strategy for acquiring customers? And then taking care of, and getting more business from, their existing customers?
The Social Media revolution of recent years has shown us more clearly (not introduced) the real purchase patterns and behaviors of both consumer and B2B (business to business) customers. We buy with our emotions, with tangible and intangible experiences and “facts” acquired by ourselves or others, based on prerequisites and requirements we often do not fully share with our vendors. Yet we demand them to be knowledgeable about our needs and to “see” us as we “are”.
In short, customers want “TLC”, they want you to show them some Love!
Not Love as in Lover (yes, it’s Valentines day today), but we must show them that we care and understand their challenges & needs, show them that we feel and share that pain enough to provide the solution; our product or service! This, of course, is where we will make our money. – But not until you’ve earned that trust, that your services or products actually is the answer to your customer’s challenge & need! We listen to our customers, employ all our knowledge and all our skills, and then we can serve our customers better with a better product! In humbleness we acknowledge; our customers know what they want! Even “master of our time” Apple knows this, and relies heavily on it.
How then, can we run and optimize our own organizations to accommodate for this business and communication climate? We all have customers, whether they’re called members, citizens, customers, clients or anything else.
The good thing is that they’re all people, human beings like you and me. And we speak that language! Although, from time to time, it may seem like we don’t. We distance ourselves from our customers, saying “them” instead of “we”, focusing on ourselves and our product rather than the results of our customer buying/using our product or services!
Sales is all about being there for your (prospective) customers. This is true whether you are selling to consumers or businesses. Show them you understand their challenges or needs, and show them the results they will achieve with your product!
Modern selling is not about pushing a box, a service or a software package, but understanding and contributing to the customer’s business, creating value!
This is especially true when working with business customers and solution selling. Solution sales takes time, and is about the long term relationship. We need to be working with our customer as if we where employed as their business developer. – Always looking for new ways to improve their business, working smarter and making use of the right solutions. It’s true, James Taylor said it. – “Take care of the ones that are important to you, and things will work out fine…”. Be your customer’s guide, be their trusted advisor!
Then there’s the goals and budget issue… You have goals and expectations on your own, and from your boss, to deliver results for the company that pays your salary. And because this is a long term game, you need to plan and see into the future on behalf of your customers. In January, do you know by heart, and by name, the customers (accounts) that you will close new business with this year? If you don’t know this by January, at least the first 4-6 months you will most likely fail and not reach your goals and budget.
Pro-active “Love”, not “knee-jerk fire fighting”
And this brings us to the importance of plans and making sure that you are always burning your energy on what’s (most) important. Instead of a “fire fighting” approach to customer service, find a way to pro-actively engage in your customers business and challenges. Back to James Taylor again; “It’s true what they say about the squeaky wheel, always getting the grease”. Our attention is easily distracted, we turn our heads towards the noise without evaluating the importance, or whether this is worth prioritizing over the task you had in front of you and already had deemed important enough to be top of your mind.
What do your customers have in common with your lover, family and friends?
So if you want real “love” and engagement back from your customers, make sure you prove yourself (and your business) worthy of that love. And the Mr Taylor goes on with his song; giving you the answer right away (if you can bear the interpretation; our understanding of the “L”-word) singing;
“Better to; Shower the people you love with love, show them the way you feel, things are gonna work out fine, if you only will; Shower the people you love with love, show them the way you feel, things are gonna be be much better, if you only will…”
Happy Valentines day, and happy sales!
- After all, it’s what makes the world go ’round!