It's something that every company is after: loyal customers. That is the typical corporate message and goal but not the realization of most. As with many things in life the tendency is to want the benefits without having to pay the price.
How do you create loyal client?
When I ask people what makes them loyal to a company I get the usual responses: Good product, fair pricing, convenient location, friendly staff.
When pressed however, inevitably the one constant that seems to truly tip the scale when it comes to ongoing loyalty is the people. I hear comments like the staff "know me", they are "friendly and sincere", they "remember me" and they "care about me".
This is not surprising; we love to be appreciated especially when we have so many choices vying for our business. We also tend to do business with people we like and trust (all other things being equal like quality products, fair pricing, convenient location). The more we like the people, the more we feel appreciated, the more loyal we are to the company.
What do loyal people do?
Two notable traits that any company would love to have as qualities of their clients are that they buy without checking out the competition, and they do not tend to argue about rate (as long as you are competitive).
So, how do we build loyalty? It's not easy which is why I think we are not that loyal to many companies. All things that are worth while take hard work and discipline to achieve. That is why they are worth while, have such value and are rare. If they were easy to attain then everyone would do it and the value wouldn't be there.
So what do we do to increase the loyalty of our clients? The list is long but from a sales perspective we can make sure we cover the basics:
Sell to them in a respectful, professional manner. Put simply this means that through good conversation we find out and get the client to agree on specific needs and then clearly explain to them viable solutions. In other words, get to know about them and care for them.
Build added value. Your company goes to a lot of trouble and expense to differentiate itself in the market. Does your client know what you do? Are they aware of the little extras that increase perceived value? These value statements need to be part of all sales presentations if they are going to accomplish their desired affect.
Follow up. This one astonishes me. In financial services everyone wants repeat sales. Companies will even go out of their way to win new business by losing money or breaking even on the first piece of business just to win a new client. They justify this practice by saying they will cross sell the new client additional products later on and "make" the client profitable. These same companies then do not have a plan to follow up with the client once they win them. They rely on statement stuffers, marketing and the client coming to them when they figure out they have a need instead of proactively reaching out to them to create the relationship. This practice perpetuates a reactive order taking process that does not lend itself to long term loyal clients. When is the last time you were in a successful, loyal relationship where you never talked to the person, or if you did, you had to reach out to them? Pick up the phone a call them. You'll be surprised at the results.
Your company will have more loyal clients when the steps are put in place to create and enhance the relationship you have with them. Don't wait for the client to do it. There is too much competition out there to leave the relationship to chance. Be proactive, spend the time and energy, put the processes in place, execute and then reap the rewards. Not doing so is like saying you'll start hitting goals, coming to work on time and trying harder once the company starts to pay you more money. Some things just simply have to precede others. Personally reaching out to clients first before we can earn ther loyalty is one of those things that we have to do first.
"If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude."
– Colin Powell
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