Many times you hear a salesperson say, “We service the heck out of our customers. They’ll never leave us.” But then a competitor walks away with an account. No one saw it coming or what went wrong.
You work hard getting new accounts, take servicing them seriously, and yet they still leave. Why? Think about it this way: you buy a new car—it’s just what you wanted. But after a year or so, you start thinking about the new models. That’s when little things about your current car start bugging you—it doesn’t have this-or-that, there’s a squeak, the technology is outdated. Before you know it, you’re back in the showroom.
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It’s no different with customers. When competitors come calling, they’re ripe for the picking. All of a sudden, the list of little things that fester over time gets longer. Before you know it, you’re sacked, replaced by a competitor. It’s the accumulation of seemingly minor issues that do the damage and make customers vulnerable. To help avoid it happening, here’s a check-list for keeping customers:
1. Be irritation aware.
By themselves little things accumulate in a customer’s mind, tolerated and quietly dormant until something triggers a reaction. “I’ll call you back about that,” but you forgot. “I’ll get on it right now,” but you didn’t. Minor irritations to be sure, but over time, they become a big issue. That’s when the competitor arrives.
2. Meet deadlines.
“Sorry, Susan, would it be OK if I got that to you tomorrow?” although he knew the due date well in advance. If it happens once, that’s understandable. Twice and it’s seen as a pattern.
3. Exhibit self-confidence.
Few things raise red flags faster than those who come across as wishy-washy and unsure of themselves. Surprising as it may seem, it can happen to people who take their work seriously and make a point of being thorough. Even so, their behavior can be interpreted as being doubtful and lacking in confidence.
4. Be a resource.
Make it a practice to keep your antennae tuned for ideas that may be of interest to customers. Then, pass them along. It’s not only helpful but a way to let them know you’re thinking of them.
5. Become a better presenter.
A regional rep for a steel company signed up for a public speaking class. “I’m not good enough on my feet,” he told the instructor. Months later, he received a big promotion and credited what he learned in the class as making the difference.
6. Get better organized.
Smart salespeople know the value of being well organized. Intuitively, perhaps, they recognize that getting customers what they need fast helps being seen as reliable, someone they can count on.
7. Don’t talk about yourself.
Understandably, salespeople want to impress prospects and customers. Sometimes they try too hard; they don’t do themselves any favors by telling stories about themselves. It’s not what customers want to hear.