“If people like you, they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they will do business with you.” Zig Ziglar
Good salespeople generally are high on the likeability scale. They engage their customers and prospects in light conversation, stay on subjects they know are safe and of mutual interest and generally are able to tell whatever story (sales pitch) they feel will create a sale. When what is being sold is a commodity (copy paper, light bulbs, hand sanitizer, etc.), a little friendly conversation is really all that is needed along with a fare price.
When the transaction is a bit more intertwined in the client’s business, there is a significant shift in the requirements they will have for you. Liking you is not enough.
So what is your most valuable asset, how do you hold on to it and how does that have anything to do with building new relationships?
One of the most common beliefs in business is that acquiring new business is the way to grow. It is important, but retention of current accounts is many times more important. The cost in time, energy and hard costs expended to acquire new accounts can exceed the profits generated. Obviously if the account becomes a long term client, the cost most likely will have been worth it. Too often however, the new business had a major component of price and the account will go shopping again on each project.
Growing business with existing accounts is highly profitable. Since acquisition costs are no longer an issue, quotes can be competitive without the huge strain on profits.
There is another benefit that you can capitalize on! When you are involved in long term business relationships that affect your client’s marketing, advertising, employee recognition, safety programs, performance improvement and many other areas of business, you occupy a position of trust. Trust essentially puts you on the same side of the desk as your client. You are both working to improve the client’s business. The “sales vs. buyer” relationship is replaced with a mutual interest.
That trust and mutual interest allows you to ask your client about referrals and about using them as a reference when talking to a new account prospect.
We are all currently finding ways to manage our businesses in a vastly changed environment. Maintaining your most important asset – current clients, has become much more difficult. Many of your contacts may be working from home and not seeing anyone at their residence. Those in their offices may have a “no visitor” policy in place to shield their employees. Fortunately you are part of perhaps the most dynamic channel in the marketing and advertising industry and have an amazing media at your fingertips. Use what you know best and reap two rewards!
By using promotional products media to stay in contact with your clients you maintain the relationship and at the same time provide a sample of how effective our media is. If for example you sent your client a “brain” stress ball with a message “We’re Thinking About You”, They might just see that as something they can do with their own clients.
The current situation does require a few thoughts regarding PPE and the amazing job promotional industry companies did to provide quick access to these goods for their customers and the welcome revenue stream it produced. That is the good part. Unfortunately PPE also drew many in the promotional products media industry back to being simply a commodity source with price as the only significant factor. While the pandemic is still a major concern, availability of PPE now exceeds need, prices have dropped to levels lower than pre pandemic, normal channels for this merchandise (hospital, medical and safety suppliers) are well stocked and appropriate treatment and vaccines are around the corner.
Now is the time to stop leading client contact with PPE and get back to helping your clients reopen and grow their businesses. Make your contact 100% about the success for your client. Don’t start any sentence, written or spoken, with “I”.
We are all aware of the financial damage most businesses suffered during the worst of the shutdown. Promotional products media has always been and still is an economical way to recontact customers and prospects in an easily controlled way that allows easy followup and provides a great reason to make (phone/email) contact. Use our media to stay connected with your most valuable clients. Think about sending a holiday gift to your top 25 or 30 clients. Do it early (Thanksgivings?) so your clients have time to do the same thing with their customers.
We may eventually get back to the days when waiting for the phone to ring provided a great income – but that is not today! Given the choice your clients would rather do business with you, but if you do not maintain the trusting relationship, you give competitors the opening they are looking for.