With rock stars, the continued expansion of their fan base determines their success and growth within the industry. Without continued growth and presence to their fans, stars dim and slip into obscurity to suffer the fate of "has beens." For salespersons, the constant growth of their customer base, both with repeat customers and with adding new ones, determines their success and growth within the sales industry.
In sales, the relationship of customers, with "their" salespersons, is much more personal. Generally, salespersons do not "play to throngs of customers", so developing dynamic relationships is essential to continued and multiple sales. Over time, the goal is the creation of business friendships, based on respect, continued interaction, honoring preferences, sharing information with each other, and desiring to enhance the well-being for all parties.
Initially, customers are seeking the best product at the best price. Period.
It is the role of the salesperson to pique the interest of the customer beyond these fundamentals and lay the foundation of trust and integrity with each potential business relationship.
First off, honesty is vital! Throughout the discussion of what the customer is searching for and the features/benefits of a particular product, the customer is listening for words that create advantages - such as free, discount, instant, bonus. Getting attention to the product in this way begins the excitement of the purchase.
When a customer signals that he/she is ready to move beyond features/benefits, their next consideration is price. The immediate question for the customer is "does the value of the product approximately equal the amount of money I am being asked to spend?" Hidden behind this question is the customer concern of "can I afford this item?" followed quickly by "do I want to afford this item?" For most people, venturing into the area of finances becomes a little bit personal. If there is a concern with finances, there could be an unspoken threat to the customer's well-being. Even if the affordability of an item is not a concern, when the salesperson moves the conversation to finances, it creates a new level in the conversation, where concerns about trust, honesty and integrity become more important. Respecting the customer's concern with finances demonstrates your commitment to developing an ongoing relationship with your customer.
Just when your relationship with your customer appears to be stable and predictable is the perfect time to interject some romance into the mix with some surprises! Perhaps a personal phone call, just to touch base with the person or to see how their trip to the Bahamas went, or to include a small extra with their purchase, or to include a thoughtful novelty, or perhaps freebies (such as movie tickets) are examples of unexpected courtesies that let your customer know that you are thinking of them. These acts all serve to keep your name and your thoughtfulness foremost in the mind of the customer. Additionally, they communicate that you value your relationship with them beyond the commission you receive from interacting with them!
Expressing sincere interest in your customer, such as knowing the names of their children or that John Jr. is about to become a freshman at Dartmouth, adds a deeper dimension to the personal relationship you have with your customer. Do these things happen in the first or second or third sales conversation? Probably not. Are they details that enhance the customer friendship? Assuredly so. And when it comes time to do business, most people would rather do business with friends, or at least familiar people, than total strangers.
Taking the time to caringly and respectfully interact with your customers is worth every second of the time you put into this endeavor! Additionally, it causes you to relish each time you have the opportunity to catch up with your customer and add personal and sales history with them!