BUSINESS owners and sales people are always looking for ways to increase sales. Sometimes, they will spend money on expensive advertising or marketing campaigns while overlooking the gold they have right at their fingertips — their existing customers.
That’s right, your existing customers are a goldmine of information and if you have a good relationship with them, they will give you excellent free marketing advice. All you have to do is ask.
If you don’t have a good relationship with them, enhance it by using this process. Start talking to them and mine the precious resources at your fingertips:
Did we measure up?
You have to find out if the client was happy with the goods or services you provided. If you don’t ask, you will never know. Frame the question in these terms: “Was our service well below expectations, below expectations, met expectations, above expectations, exceeded expectations?”
Using this methodology allows you to pinpoint where you stand in the customer’s eyes.
What could we have done better?
Taking the time to ask what your company could do better enables your customer to get involved in improving your business.
If you have a reasonable relationship, most people will give you positive and constructive feedback from their perspective. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine what our customers want and we are sometimes too mired in running the operations to consider delivering our services in a different way.
What was the best part of the process?
This question often draws surprising responses. Customers value some things far more than others and they may not be what we consider important.
Getting customers’ perspectives enables you to review your processes for their benefit and ultimately your own. The next step in this process is to ask if they would be willing to put their comments in writing. This is the birthing process for positive testimonials, which will surely add value to your business.
What comes next?
Once the assignment is completed, a good salesman will look for a reason to begin the next sales conversation. So ask what you can do next for the customer.
It may be a quarterly review of the success of the work just done or it could be a programmed maintenance function. Either way it opens the communication channels and allows you to stay in touch and keep talking about the positive benefits of the work just completed, which may well lead to more orders.
Will you refer us to someone in your network?
The final question is ultimately the most timely and important question — and the most overlooked by sales people. Ask for a referral.
If the client has ranked your work as meeting expectations or higher and has engaged in conversation about what is next for them, then this simple question is the logical next step.
You could couch your question in these terms: “In a score out of 10, how likely are you to be willing to refer us to others you know in your network for similar services?”
If you score a seven or higher, then quickly begin collecting a list of names and contact details and get cracking to contact them while your customer is feeling the positive afterglow of the recently completed assignment.
Article by Lindsay Adams, relationship marketing specialist, international speaker with Training Edge International and 2009-2010 international president of the Global Speakers Federation. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.trainingedgeasia.com