The very first tip, is get to know your clients. Know their business, learn why they started it, find out their passions and dreams. The only way that you can help them is to truly know who they are. You need to know what challenges they have. This means meeting with them in person more than once. It also means taking the time to visit them, at their place of business is so you can visualize what it is that they do, and you can meet their staff. As a salesperson, not knowing who your client is, and even worse your staff not knowing your client, is one of the biggest mistakes that you can make as a business. We now make it part of our sales process, that after the sale is made, we transition the sale to operations by having a “meet the team” get together. That way, our team can meet the client, get to know them, ask questions, find out what they are passionate about. It’s kind of like a “first date”. That way everyone is starting from the same page in the book.
Second, be up front and honest. Speaking from experience, laying out your expectations at the beginning is so important. It is the key to a great experience on both sides of the table. Let me give you an example. My husband and I had to take our boys to a pediatric dentist. We had an initial appointment where we met with the everyone in the office. From the finance department, to the receptionist, to the assistants, even so far as meeting the dentist. No stone unturned. We were given a guided tour, and walked through the building and learned exactly how an appointment would happen. The finance area gave us the run-down on the services, costs and their expectations on how to pay. It was an amazing “first date”. To this day, we continue to take our boys to this dentist because of our very first experience, and every experience in between. In your business, think about how you can be up front and honest with your clients. Don’t assume they know how everything works. Don’t assume they know your policies, procedures and costs involved. Don’t hide anything, lay it out, explain it. Honesty and integrity can go a long way in terms of client trust.
Third, communicate with your client every step of the way. It seems easy right? Just send an email and your client will know what is happening. WRONG. I’ve seen this way too often, the lines of communication get messed up, or the wrong lines of communication are used. Let me give you a simple example; in the past we have sent our clients “homework” via email when we are working on a website. It is up to our clients to do the homework by a designated date. If they don’t get back to us, their website is put “on hold”. In the past, that’s exactly what has happened. Emails were sent, we might have called and left a message in between, but a client didn’t get back to us, and 45 days later, nothing has been done. Time and money lost. This is a process we still continue to work on and perfect. As Donald Trump would say, this is “HUGE”!
We have learned that our clients are busy. They are more worried about client projects than getting their own projects completed. Isn’t this the case? It is with us. We know that it is up to us, to help our clients move along at a steady pace. The quicker we can complete a project, the quicker we get paid. Being better communicators and being persistent, believe it or not helps with cash flow.
First, find out in your initial meeting what type of communication your client likes. Is it by phone? Is it by texting? Do they want to work with email? Find out what works for them. Second, stay in touch and be persistent. If you are emailing them, and they are not responding, try your second choice for communication, pick up the phone and call them – make sure they are even receiving your emails. We’ve sent quotes and designs out to clients waiting for a response, and guess what? In the end, we had an incorrect email. A simple phone call could have found this out.
When we are working on a project, we try to touch our clients at least three times, every two days to make sure we are communicating effectively. Make sure you have procedures in place to make your business run better. Once you have a procedure, test it out, see how it works. If you need to modify your procedure then you modify and test it again. Ultimately, you find what works, and then you enforce your procedure and make sure everyone is communicating effectively.
Fourth, follow up. When the job is done, payment is made it’s easy to believe your work is done. However, it is not. It is vital that you follow up when the job is complete. You need to check to see if your client was satisfied and happy with the outcome of the project or service performed. Whether you do this through a simple phone call, a quick survey, or even an email, find out what the customer thought of the experience. You might find out that there are still some questions. The client may not be happy, or the client may be estatic. You may even find out the client needs something else, and you might have another project or sale on the horizon. Make the follow up part of your strategy!
After follow up, stay connected to your client. We have an “in touch”program for our web clients. After we create and launch a website, our clients are contacted three times within a year through email, a phone card and a hand written note, (in addition to our web email and other marketing efforts), that is sent out quarterly. We like to stay visible to our clients. They need to know we are here for them, and available. If we disappear from their sight, our competitors will become visible.
What I’ve given you are steps for success in creating the ultimate sales experience for your clients. Let’s review: 1) Know your clients. 2)Be up front and honest 3) Communicate 4) Follow Up 5)Stay Connected. If you can follow these simple set of instructions (remember there are only 5!) you can start to build clients for life. And, remember it’s a lot easier and inexpensive to maintain clients that are loyal and true to you and your company, than to gain new ones. So, get on board, and devise a plan of action on how you can create those loyal clients, those “lifers”.