Very few frontline sales professionals—and very few companies—conduct regular review meetings with their customers. Those who do typically arrange them at the start of a new year or trading period, so this is a wonderful opportunity to get a jump on the competition, and in all probability, gain some business that is not currently sitting in the pipeline.

Obtaining continual feedback against a set of established criteria is vital if an organization is to retain its top clients and seek to improve its standing and the quality of its service.

Here are seven benefits of regular feedback:

  1. Feedback reveals your customer’s current and future plans.
  2. Seeing your business from your customer’s point of view allows you to ask the question “Would you do business with you?” If not, why not?
  3. Feedback allows you to tailor your service levels so that you enjoy maximum customer satisfaction at minimal cost.
  4. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know how you are doing until it’s too late.
  5. Feedback is subject to the “iceberg factor”—a small criticism may hide a much larger problem—making it more critical than it may first appear.
  6. Feedback can reveal what your competition is doing, helping you to be a consistently strong contender.
  7. Gaining a reputation for wanting to hear feedback can encourage referrals and bring you more business.

How often should you solicit feedback? This will depend entirely on the importance of the account and revenue levels being achieved or anticipated. However, it is advisable to conduct a review at least annually. I conduct a quarterly review meeting with all of my most important clients.

Assessing the feedback you receive. If the feedback you have been receiving to date has not been useful, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I ask enough questions?
  • Do I ask the right questions?
  • Do I communicate effectively about why I am asking the questions?
  • Do I ask the right people?
  • Do I know how to use the data I collect?
  • Am I organized to respond to the information?
  • Do I value and trust the information I receive?

What do you do with the results? Communicate them within your company, so that everyone is aware of customer feedback. And take the following steps:

  • Act immediately on vital issues.
  • Confirm that the actions taken have solved the problem.
  • Resolve to prevent the problem in the future.

Remember, the account review is a non-threatening meeting. It is a fact-finding session, not a sales event. But it is highly likely that during this meeting you will uncover additional short-, medium- and long-term opportunities. So, what are you waiting for?

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Jonathan Farrington is a globally recognized business coach, mentor, author, consultant and chairman of The JF Corporation and CEO of Top Sales Associates. For more information and tips from Jonathan, visit http://www.topsalesworld.com/, or go to his blog at http://www.thejfblogit.co.uk/.