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June 19, 2018

Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida Business

Have a love affair with your customers and love the results

Ron Stein | 3/12/2018

Do your customers love your products as much as you do? Do you love your customers the way you would love your best friend? These are not meant to be "gotcha" questions. But it does require some soul searching.

Most company leaders will not hesitate and say, "Of course!" to both questions. After all, what's not to love. They'll say, "We pour our hearts and passion into making a great product that has every feature to meet the needs of our market."

Let's translate: if we sell great stuff then customers will meet our needs and buy. This is a flimsy relationship. The love is mostly one-way; from your business to yourself. Because the emphasis is perceived by the customer as primarily about what the seller is getting out of the relationship.

The customer believes that the minute the seller's needs are not met, the seller will leave them -- like when a bigger customer comes along or they suddenly shift direction to pursue a hot new market. There isn't a commitment holding the relationship together.

Where's the love? It's really all about reciprocal love. Reciprocal love that thrives for many years, maybe even a lifetime.

Confused? You've given a deal of great thought about what your audience wants, built a solid product or service offering, and in fact you're selling what you have. Obviously, you say you care.

Yet, when your customers sense that it's more about you instead of them, they'll leave in a heartbeat. Or at least be easily swayed by another vendor that seems to care more.

So, what does real caring look like?

Nothing less than complete honesty, dependability, and devotion. Known as the world's greatest salesman, Joe Girard once said, "When you bought a car from me, you didn't get just a car. You got me. I would break my back to service a customer; I'd rather service a customer than sell another car." Joe's customers knew that he was on their side, body and soul. Sure, that takes work. But trying to find new customers to replace the ones that don't stick around is even harder.

Ask the tough question, of yourself and your customers. The first time you and your prospective customer "see" each other, you're starting the relationship off as strangers. The only way to get to know each other and build a lasting connection is through continual and reciprocal self-disclosure. It's two-way yet, with a heavy dose of self-reflection. Start by having a conversation inside your company as if you were talking with an old customer. Has your business made consistent improvements in your product and service? Do you take this best customer for granted and give lip service to their feedback? Why? Why not? Now go out and ask a few of your existing customers what they really want from your company. Ask them what it will take for them to truly love you and your offering. Don't be afraid to dig deep -- it'll help you understand them and show that you really do value the relationship. Plus they'll come away knowing so much about you and the company. That's how strong bonds are built.

Love your customers, love the results. Once you're in the groove of asking the tough questions, have conversations like that with prospective and new customers too. But, don't stop there. Find new, innovative ways to strengthen each relationship. Create truly valuable content that helps customers grow, learn, and succeed. Send an unexpected handwritten thank you note. Reward loyal customers with discounts, special buying opportunities, and an occasional gift. Conduct regular listening sessions, online and at customer-only events you host. Check-in with customers a week after making a purchase. And always celebrate their success. Show lots of love and create customer experiences that are the best in your industry -- at every possible touch point. Walt Disney summed it up best, "Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends."

Never assume your customers are going to stick around.

You need to have affairs, long term affairs with your customers. For this to work they need to reciprocate. Because it's all about love, for many years, maybe even a lifetime.

Ron Stein is founder of More Customers Academy, helping business leaders build strategic messaging and positioning that cuts through the competitive noise to grow revenue. Ron has developed his own highly successful 5-step Stand Out & Sell More approach to winning new customers as a result of his twenty-five years of business development, marketing, and selling experiences. He works with a range of businesses, from startups to large corporations across industries including technology and healthcare, manufacturing, and financial services and banking. Ron conducts workshops, leads company meetings, offers keynote talks, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or by email.

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