Building Customer loyalty
What we think | Sales Insights

Building Customer loyalty: Know your products/solutions well before selling them to customers

A customer once lost in sales is lost forever or at least for a long time. In today’s business landscape, the competition is fierce, and customers have many options to choose from. In such a scenario, customer service plays a crucial role in driving sales and building a loyal customer base.

Customer Service is Imperative in Sales

In any successful business, customer service is the cornerstone. It is the primary point of contact between the customer and the organization so when customers are happy with the service, they are more likely to become repeat customers and recommend your business to others. On the other hand, poor customer service can damage the reputation of your business and drive customers away.

In sales, customer service is even more critical because when a customer is considering a purchase, they are looking for more than just a product or service. They want to feel valued and supported throughout the buying process. A salesperson who provides excellent customer service can help build trust with the customer, answer their questions, and address any concerns they may have throughout.

Moreover, customer service can also help differentiate your business from competitors. When customers receive exceptional service, they are more likely to choose your business over others, even if your prices are higher. This is why it is essential to build the equation with the customer so that they become a loyal customer who treats you as an advisor later.

Nurturing Customer Relationships

Building strong relationships with clients requires time, effort, and dedication. It’s essential to go beyond the sales pitch and focus on building trust and understanding with the client.

Effective communication is crucial in building strong client relationships. It’s essential to keep the lines of communication open, be responsive to their needs, and provide regular updates on the status of their orders or projects.

Personalization is key to building a loyal customer base, especially in today’s world. Customers want to feel like they are more than just a number. It’s essential to take the time to understand their needs and preferences and tailor your service to meet their specific requirements. Gone are the days when we had to find solutions to customer problems. Now it is expected that we will be proactive in predicting solutions before the customer approaches us with the problem. Being efficient with sales foresights is critical to the success of any business.

Sales foresights refer to the ability to predict and anticipate future sales trends, customer behaviour, and market changes. Gaining sales foresights can help the sales professionals plan better both at their end and for their customer – Sales Foresights can help you make informed decisions about resource allocation, marketing strategies, and product development. Sales foresights can help you anticipate customer needs and preferences, allowing you to tailor your products and services, accordingly, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. Anticipating the needs of your customers is an excellent way to build trust and loyalty, whereby the customer starts promoting you amongst their networks.

A lesson well learnt at the cost of customer dissatisfaction

This was a lesson learnt multiple decades ago, but still seems relevant when it comes to driving customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Back in 1998, I happened to meet a Partner Account Manager of one of the software giants at a conference. He knew that we had a robust customer network so he started talking about his database solutions and how it could be generating more revenues and profits for us if we start selling their solutions. Though I knew that his database solutions were well received by the market, I was hesitating to sign up because we didn’t know anything about the product. When I asked him if we could get some sales and technical training, he told me that it was not needed as the solutions were plain and simple.

The partner also shared the information that they have never invested in training their partners. I was a bit shocked when I heard this. The PAM saw my facial reactions and immediately assured that they would always support us during client escalations. While I was still deliberating, he distracted me by sharing the details of a prospective client who wanted to purchase their database software license.

When a lead is shown to a “hunter” sales professional, you know what happens next.

I found myself speaking to the prospect immediately. I did not spend the time to reflect and discuss the pros and cons of this new business opportunity with my manager and team. I convinced my manager that this was a good business opportunity for us.

The new business opportunity converted to a sale immediately and the client gave PO to us with 100% advance. I was super excited and started talking to our existing clients about the new software.

True to the psychology of customer loyalty, our existing customers were easily convinced about the new software products, as it was coming from their trusted software solutions advisor. A new order came from one of our existing customers for this new software product, with only one request – That we along with the software license, we were asked to install the software in our client’s server.

With no prior experience here, and no support from the OEM, we sent our customer support engineer. When i was winding down for the day, I realised that our engineer had not returned, and I received a call from our client. He was very unhappy since the installation was unsuccessful. The client was also tired and hence he did not agree for my engineer to return without a successful installation. After much struggle and negotiation, we completed the installation.

Multiple such instances of customer dissatisfaction with this software product cost us damage of reputation and loyalty.

Post this traumatic experience, as an organization, we decided not to promote any software products until we were completely convinced on the capabilities of the tools and on whether they were going to add value to our business. This experience also helped me evolve as a Sales Professional.

The power of the internet has changed the business dynamics now, as lot more details are available on the internet, and it is no more a situation where we are sandwiched between the vendor and the customer. However, some lessons remain timeless when it comes to dealing with customers in a B2B organisation.

  1. If we are not competent in a particular domain, it is advisable to not take the plunge.
  2. One bad client experience will erase all previous good experiences with them so it’s better to be careful.
  3. Our overall reputation (and existence) will take a hit if we play with even one customer’s business.
  4. In this era of business networking, if we lose one customer, it will be followed by 9 other customers who will leave us because news travels fast.
  5. It is always better to know the products/ solutions well before promoting them.
  6. Never get lured by short term gains.
  7. Finally, we should know the depth of the water in a river, before plunging into it.

In conclusion, customer service is imperative in sales, and client relationships have to be nurtured. Providing exceptional service can help build trust, differentiate your business from competitors, and drive sales. Nurturing client relationships requires time, effort, and dedication, but the benefits are well worth it. By focusing on effective communication, personalization, follow-up, and anticipating customer needs, you can build strong, long-term relationships with your clients.

Happy Selling.

Kumar Somayajilu is a Sales Director with over 30 years of B2B sales experience in the IT System Integration and People Enablement sectors. His passion for sales is only mildly surpassed by his love for sports. In a previous life, Kumar has also held the COO position and has experience in operations, management, mergers and acquisitions and P&L.
Chandrani Datta works as a Manager-Content Research and Development with almost a decade’s experience in writing and editing of content. A former journalist turned content manager, Chandrani has written and edited for different brands cutting across industries. The hunger for learning, meaningful work and novel experiences keeps her on her toes. An avid traveller, Chandrani’s interests lie in photography, reading and watching movies.

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