If loyal, long-term customers are your goal, you need to romance them right from the start, and continue to wow them with unexpected wins along the full customer lifecycle. At the end of the day, the earlier you understand that the focus is less about you and your business or success, and more about your customer and his or her business or success, the sooner you are on the way to scalable, long-term growth.
1. When pitching
You are setting a tone with your prospects from your initial pitch. You cannot lead every message with you or your company, and how great your product or service is. Clients are busy, and want to get right to the point on "how this matters to my business."
Other client questions will include, "How are you going to drive more revenues for me, or lower my costs or improve my customer experience?" "How am I going to achieve an ROI on my investment with you?" And, more importantly, "What’s in it for me personally? How are you going to make me look smart to my boss?"
Accordingly, your entire pitch needs to lead with this “here is how the customer wins” mentality, where "customer" is defined as both the corporation and the individual contact.
I almost didn’t use the word "selling" in this section. Because nobody wants to be “sold” anything. So, using the word “selling” loosely, what wins can you give your prospective customer through the sales process? Did you recently publish interesting market research for his or her industry that offers free benefits?
Did you secure the customer a free ticket to the big industry trade show or other exclusive event, as your guest? And, let’s not forget the individual contact. Did you send flowers to this person on his or her birthday? Or, baby gifts when any kids were born? What about golfing with you at an exclusive course, or tickets to a sold-out concert? This stuff matters in the relationship-building you do with your customers.
I previously wrote about the art of negotiation from your company’s perspective. But, frankly, it is more important to master the art of negotiation from your customer’s perspective. Everybody wants to feel as though he or she has “won” a negotiation, especially the finance or procurement departments of large enterprise clients whose sole job is to save the company money.
So, build the customer's perspective into your negotiation tactics. Know that procurement wants to “turn the screws,” and leave that cushion in your original proposals, so customers can get their “win” and look smart to their bosses.
Making sure you deliver the experience your customers expect is the bare minimum, so they are not caught off guard by unexpected issues that could get them into trouble internally. But, beyond that, what are you going to deliver them that they had no idea was coming? What free upgrade will there be to the higher version of your software? Or, will there be free luggage to go with their vacation travel purchase? Or, a free analysis of the data in the system they weren’t expecting?
You get the point. It is all about creating a “wow” factor.
The more pleasant surprises and customer wins you can bring your customers, the better will be their experience, the more likely they will be inclined to spread positive word of mouth and referrals. In addition it will be easier to get them as your brand ambassador references. And most importantly, it will be easier to get them to renew their relationship with you over the years.
It is hard enough to acquire customers, so make sure you have your action plan in place to retain them. Customer wins along the way will help pave that road for you.