To establish a strong connection with a customer that can lead to a long-term relationship, you must be reliable. This is something that doesn’t happen once you make the sale — but before.
Five key actions that lead customers to rely on you:
Be unreasonably accountable.
No matter how much planning you do, the unexpected will happen. For example, maybe new machine parts arrive on time, but are broken in transit. Of course, you aren’t responsible for these things but you are accountable for what you do next to help your customer succeed. The best salespeople figure out what is in their control and get moving, such as when my friend Rob took it upon himself to go get necessary parts and deliver them to a customer, 184 miles away, an action that resulted in a lifelong customer.
It’s never good to be the source of constant surprises for your customer. The customer wants to know that you can be counted on, and the best way to do that is to over-communicate. Make sure the customer understands what success looks like and what you’re going to do to ensure the customer achieves it. Draw up basic project plans with deliverables and timelines to help the customer predict what will happen and when.
Anticipate and act on challenges.
This is a close cousin to being predictable. You are being hired not only for your product or service but also because you and your company are deemed a subject matter expert (SME). Your expertise enables you to see problems before they surface so you can act to avoid or reduce their impact. That is why customers hire SMEs rather than deciding to do it themselves.
Don’t hide bad news.
Bad news is bad news, but it’s worse when someone else informs your customer. It’s catastrophic if a competitor gets to deliver your bad news, and you know they’ll jump at any chance to do it. You need to communicate bad news more aggressively than good news. Most important, it signals to the customer that you caught the problem and are taking care of it. If they hear about your problem from somebody else, they may wonder if you’re up to the task.
Be a good listener.
An angry customer is a brutally honest customer. It’s hard to get dressed down, but don’t get defensive or worse, try to blame someone else. When a customer is upset, pull out your notepad, start recording what your customer is mad about and be a good listener. In many cases, you’ll learn that there’s an easy fix – and you may even discover that it’s not your fault. Still, it’s not the time to tell the customer he or she is wrong. Customers are people and when they see that you are listening and learning, their reliance on you goes up.
Each of the five actions can be done from the very first time you meet a prospect. Doing these things while they’re evaluating you helps them see that they can rely on you. This is how you win, and how you keep winning lifelong customers. To learn more about RELIABILITY go to www.thefiveabilities.com or get Winning Lifelong Customers with The Five Abilities® wherever you buy books online.
Tell us how you’ve won business by being ultra-reliable? Do you have a story like Rob’s? Post your comments below.
©2017 Rick Wong, The Five Abilities® LLC