If loyal, long-term customers are your goal, you need to romance them right from the start, and continue to wow them along the way with unexpected wins along the full customer lifecycle. At the end of the day, the earlier you understand it is less about you and your business or success, and more about your customer and their business or success, the sooner you are on the way scalable long term growth.
You are setting a tone with your prospects from your initial pitch. You cannot lead with every message about 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 does this matter to my business. 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? 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 customers through the sales process? Did you just publish interesting market research for their industry that they can benefit from for free? Did you get them 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 them on their birthday? Or, baby gifts when their kids were born? Or, golfing at their favorite course? Or, tickets to a sold out concert, as your guest? This stuff matters in the relationship building 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 like they “won” a negotiation, especially the finance or procurement departments of large enterprise clients whose sole job is to save the company money. So, build that into your negotiation tactics. Know procurement wants to “turn the screws”, and leave that cushion in your original proposals, so they can get their “win” and look smart to their bosses.
Making sure you deliver the experience they are expecting is the bare minimum, so they are not caught off guard by unexpected issues that could get them in trouble internally. But, beyond that, what are you going to deliver them that they had no idea was coming? What free upgrade to the higher version of your software? Or, some 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 “wow” factor.
The more pleasant surprises and customer wins you can bring you customers, the better will be their customer experience, the more likely they will be inclined to spread positive word of mouth and referrals, the easier it will be to get them as your brand ambassador reference, and most importantly, the easier it will be to get them 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. And, customer wins along the way will help pave that road for you.
Image credit: CC by George Deeb