The Art of Nurturing: 5 ways to build on customer relationships

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Making the sale feels great. It gives any salesperson or business owner a real feeling of accomplishment. Well done! Now this is where the real work begins.

Unless you’re in an extremely specialized field where making one sale to a customer means your business is over and done forever – and I can’t think of a single example – signing up a new customer is just step one in creating, building and maintaining a (hopefully) lifelong relationship.

Together, those three aspects – create, build, maintain – are what is known as customer nurturing. It’s the process of being there for your customer, rather than just always trying to get another order, make another sale. It’s about engendering loyalty and keeping a customer for life. Let’s take a look at five ways to do this.

1. Pay attention to detail

Make sure you know your customer inside-out. Know all about their business, as well as the specific people you deal with. Make the effort to ask questions, follow them on social media – get the inside scoop.

Why is this important?
Firstly, if you’re paying attention, you’ll be one of the first to know when the customer is experiencing any kind of change, whether it’s something negative or positive. It gives you the opportunity to be the first to congratulate them on a new deal or on Maggie in Accounts’ daughter’s graduation or, if something goes wrong, to prepare yourself for any backlash that might affect you.

You will build a reputation for being well informed and on top of your game. This helps you build trust with the customer, because they realize you’re taking the time to get to know them.

2. Don’t always be selling – give them what they need

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Not every interaction has to be a sale. You don’t have to fill an order each time; you could contact them to wish the boss happy birthday, or send a link to an article you think they might be interested in.

Why is this important?
Nobody likes to feel that the only reason you’re in contact with them is to make money off them. Customers like to feel that you actually appreciate them and value their business, and that you recognize them as more than just a revenue stream.

By engaging with your customer on different levels, you show them that you are more than just a vehicle for sales, too. You build a deeper relationship, where they begin to know you as a person, as well. When a relationship develops, not only are they more likely to stay loyal, they are also more likely to recommend you to people they know.

3. Make them feel special

Has your customer just closed a massive deal or merged with an industry leader? Send them a handwritten letter of congratulations . Has Simon in tech support’s son just had his Bar Mitzvah? Send him a card.

Do something to make customers feel special, whether it’s to the company as a whole, or to an individual for a special occasion.

Why is this important?
It makes your customer feel cared about and gives them the sense that you care what happens to them, both as a company and as individuals. This translates into greater customer loyalty and stronger relationships.

4. The sneak peek

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This ties in with tip 3 – making customers feel special. Give them a sneak peek at any new tech, products, services, etc that you will be introducing soon. When doing this, make sure you point out why it would be beneficial to them to upgrade or consider your new service.

Why is this important?
People are more likely to buy if they feel the have access to something unique or exclusive. This is also an easy way to make the customer feel valued and special, therefore building a stronger relationship.

5. Make interactions worthwhile, something to look forward to

Don’t just contact your customer for the sake of contacting them. Make sure every visit, phone-call, email has a purpose behind it. That purpose could be any of the things mentioned here, or any of a host of others.

Why is this important?
You don’t want your customer to feel badgered or that you are contacting them because you’re going through your weekly call sheet. You begin to seem predictable and therefore someone to just ignore if they are busy. By making sure each communication has some real, tangible value to it, you become someone to be listened to and taken seriously.

By nurturing customers, you significantly increase your chances of making more and better quality sales, and also generating new sales leads. You make yourself stand out from the crowd of order-fillers and become a partner in your customer’s success.

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