Sunday, December 6, 2015

Know Your Customers

One of the benefits that small businesses – including direct salespeople – have over large, big-box retailers, is the ability to get to know your customers on a more intimate level. But to really use that relationship to maximize your profits, you need to go beyond first-name basis. You need to know them as a friend, and that takes work. Here’s how you can establish a relationship that pays big dividends:

  1. Make it authentic. It’s obvious when someone is being nice to you or expressing interest only to make a sale. That’s the last thing you want your customers to think, so your interest in them has to come from a place of true service. Yes, you’re hoping you’ll make money, but your real motivation needs to be one of service. Keep your eyes on their hearts, not on their wallets.
  2. Start a customer information file. Whether it’s a box of index cards you jot notes on, a computer program, or a binder, have a way to track your customers, what they order, and other pertinent information. At a minimum you should know their family members’ names, their birthday, and their contact information, as well as their preferred means of contact (mail, email, phone, etc.).
  3. Contact them regularly. Your customers should hear from you at a minimum of once a month. Any less, and they will forget about you. Depending on your business, you may find that a once-a-week schedule is preferable. That doesn’t mean you need to call all your customers every week! Your schedule might look like this:
    Week One – Phone call
    Week Two – Emailed newsletter with tips
    Week Three – Postcard reminder
    Week Four – Email announcement of special sale or product

    Many of these can be done in bulk, making it just as easy to send 100 as one. To make sure the information you send is welcome, make it useful. Tips, resources, savings, ways to use the products they already have… these are all wonderful options.
  4. Use product delivery to increase connection. If your business is one where you actually deliver product to your customer, you have one more opportunity to further your relationship. When your customer comes to pick up his or her order, or you swing by to drop it off, this is a great unstructured chance to get to know them better. There’s no stress because you’re not in the middle of a sales presentation, and you already know your customer likes you because they purchased from you! Use this opportunity to find out how the customer plans on using their purchases, what additional questions they have, and how your business fits into their overall life. If you visit their home, you may have the opportunity to meet their family and get a glimpse of their life. Take advantage of it!
Your customers are better than gold. Treat them that way, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of a positive relationship, both personally and professionally.

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