Managing customer relationships with a simple CRM is important. Now, more than ever, consumers exercise their right to choose product and service providers.
There is less loyalty than ever due to the ever expanding global market place on the internet and due to a shift in the way many companies now need to do business. Presenting value at all times is more vital than ever. That’s why effective customer relationship management is so essential.
Here are seven ways to help keep things moving in the right direction with your customer relationships.
1. Regular Unobtrusive Contact
Regular contact that’s unobtrusive is important, depending on the client. Some clients are needy and want to see their sales rep once a month and others don’t want to see much of you at all; they only want you providing them with constant value.
Learn about your customers wants so that you handle contact as a customized fit. Options for continuous contact can include a newsletter, periodic visits, phone calls, or even just emails to touch base.
Make sure you handle contact in the right way as well. Many sales courses teach sales reps to identify the decision makers. When you work with customers be sure you provide value and nurture the relationship with influencers as well as the decision makers so that you don’t get anyone’s back up. This means dealing with all levels of the organization in a way that demonstrates value.
Sales reps that try to circumvent a purchasing agent, for instance, by going above his or her head will get the buyer’s back up. This could hurt your relationship in the future. Take time to learn enough about the infrastructure (and if possible, enough about the politics) so you can develop relationships with all the right people — influencers and decision makers.
2. Use a CRM
Use a Customer Relationship Management tool to keep notes about customer contacts and individual contact occasions, contents of conversations, and other personal details in a central location. CRM tools include a contact database but they can do so much more, as well.
Tip: Use your customer relationship management software to schedule calls and to keep track of organizational structure as well as to set periodic alerts and to-do items for each client as well as individual people at that company. CRM tools can do a lot for various efforts, including contact management, pipeline tracking, follow-up, collaboration with other staff at your company, and more.
3. Share Corporate Swag
Personalized items can make an impression. It sounds simple but sending a corporate pen, a personalized calendar, a golf shirt, and a mug can help you stay in the mind of your customers. When they need to place an order having your phone number or website address in plain view is a help. Receiving a small and ethically acceptable token of thanks for their business is also appreciated and duly noted by many buyers.
4. Deliver Consistency
Do you consistently deliver on time? Do you consistently demonstrate value? You’re generally as good as the last dealing you had with your customers. Demonstrate reliability and continuous value and there is a greater chance of loyalty. If something goes wrong, jump through proverbial hoops to make it right. A customer will be more forgiving of an error when their sales rep takes responsibility and makes every effort to rectify a problem.
5. Use Reporting
Regularly utilize reporting and metrics will help you proactively manage your relationships and gauge the health of those relationships. Reports can help you measure whether or not volumes are climbing or dropping. You can track leads and calculate what percentage of the quote you send out are turning into orders. Reporting can also help you do post-mortem analysis to try to determine why you’re missing out on some opportunities and then help you clearly see potential options for salvaging relationships as well as ensuring you are better positioned for the next opportunity.
Reporting, in conjunction with intelligence you’ve gathered about your customers will help you track and understand peaks and valleys in your sales numbers so you can ascertain whether volumes have dropped because it’s a customer’s fiscal year end versus knowing they have simply chosen to buy somewhere else.
6. Gather Feedback
Know how you’re doing. Ask customers to fill out surveys and score cards. Have frank discussions about what you could be doing better. Make sure they know you’re willing to continually work to partner with them. This will help you solidify your relationship, demonstrating you care about providing great service. For example, a quarterly score card with both active and inactive customers could be a great way to proactively manage relationships and your reputation.
7. Avoid Complacency
More than any of the tips above, don’t be complacent with your customer relationships. Never assume that your relationship is unbreakable. Continually strive to prove your worth as a partner or provider.
Some of these tips may seem rudimentary but keeping all of them in mind can help you adopt the right customer relationship management mindset and maximize the potential of customer loyalty.