Generally when our members earn a first time customers business it’s a combination of the right price for a system or service that meets a specific need. That transaction can easily be the first or the last contact project for that client. To make it the first, I have some suggestions…
Before, during and after the project, we have subtle opportunities to gain the respect of the decision makers. And we have opportunities to build additional relationships within their chain of command. Over the years we have all made mistakes and have success stories on how this was handled. I’ve concluded that you need to gain the respect of the client every step of the way and on each and every contact with your company.
To me it all begins with the relationship sales strategy. Who you send out to be the face of your company is directly related to your future business potential. Then you have highly trained and qualified design, project management and technical team that can handle themselves well especially when difficult situations arise. Then the support staff from accounting to customer service engages the client in a manner that keeps a seamless level of professionalism throughout. No ups and downs from beginning to end.
Respect is earned from simply telling the truth. The culture of always telling the truth then builds a reputation of integrity. Integrity then becomes the number one reason your customers do repeat business with you. The combination of technical competence and integrity is what every customer really wants. It’s what we all want with our suppliers and service providers, right? It’s the right way to build and run a business…every day.
If something just isn’t going to work well, then say so. At stake is your credibility as a long term business partner. This could mean not submitting a proposal on a project that seems doomed from the start. Too often we sugarcoat the severity of the mess we are about to make by going into a project skeptical of the outcome. Short-term revenues may be gained, but credibility and respect will be lost along with future business.
So what are you doing to earn the respect of your best customers? My guess is that earning respect throughout all levels can directly lead to an ongoing and potentially exclusive business relationship. I’m not sure if there is a process for measuring this, but it would be a great thing to know. I also wonder if it’s possible to respect a company and yet not like doing business with them. I don’t think so. CW