You’ve seen this before – a great masseuse, hairstylist, developer, sales manager, fitness trainer, financial planner – leaves a company to start their own business or join another company, and their clients follow. Ever wonder why that is? Is it charisma, or because they asked them to follow? Or are they just that damn good? And if they are, how do you get to be that good?
The hard truth is, it’s none of that. People follow other people because of the relationships they have together. Let me repeat that… Your ability to develop meaningful relationships with customers will make them loyal to you, to the point of following you even after you leave the place where you established that relationship.
As a sales professional, business owner or manager, this is extremely valuable information. You’re asking, how do I just go out and do that? Here are 5 things you can put into action right now:
- Start with a relationship in mind. What are you trying to establish with your customer? How do you want them to relate to you, how do you want to relate to them. What do you have in common? Obviously, you want to “fix their pain” with your product or service, but what if they have kids, and one of them has cancer? What really is their biggest pain point? How do you even ask these kinds of questions?
- Consistently keep things concise. If you can say it in 10 words, don’t use 20. Emails, web sites, content and copy, marketing campaigns, social media, and voice mails. Simplicity is king when everything is vying for your customers time every day, all day. (Note: face-to-face meetings, which are rare these days, are the exception – more on that later.)
- Remove yourself. Take yourself out of every piece of content (except your bio). Customers want you to understand them, their problems and HEAR them. You must hear them to help them, or you’ll never be successful in selling.
- Benefits, not Features. While the objective of your sales work is to sell, the foundation of your sales process should be connecting with your customer. Internet users mostly scan content before deciding to read it. The first things mentioned will determine whether your content is read or not.
- Old School Thinking: Your product is ‘needed’, value proposition, ROI –> New School Action: Trust, engagement & partnership. This is not to say that value propositions and focus on ROI should be thrown out the window. However, to truly develop your customer base and attain new customers, you MUST engage their hearts as well as their minds to purchase. How do you do this? Survey them. Flatter them by asking them to partner with you for a success case study (current customers). Refer business to them. Share relevant stories, news articles, other (non-competing) products with them. In doing this, they will know you care. And because you care, their loyalty to you will be unbreakable.
I’ll share a secret with you; I’m a Project Manager by trade, but these are immutable tenets of any kind of transactional work that must take place between people to achieve a goal. I have partnered with the most brilliant sales professional I know (and the CEO of Inside Sales by Design), to establish the first Sales program created with these tenets in mind. Project management is a process built around relationships. Sales can be, too.
Project Managing Inside Sales focuses on:
- Developing heightened listening skills to ask the right questions – not just about work, or the sale, or the competition, but to truly enable relationship development.
- Putting a plan in place to engage customers fully; and why the rare face-to-face meetings with customers will let you hit a home run with the right process.
- Putting automated processes in place for your sales team to focus on the most important part of their job – customers.
- Aligning your corporate strategy with your sales strategy – even internally in companies, relationship is king.
This leading edge program is launching soon. We invite you to learn a bit more, sign up for early access (free sample courses, templates, and more), and share your stories with us at www.PMInsideSales.com.
Looking forward to partnering with you!
Rhonda O’Neill is the CEO of Shift Project Management and author of The 24-Hour Project Manager. Lover of life and a passion for the outdoors, she is a 6-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and was the lead Engineering Project Manager for Microsoft’s Windows 8 and 8.1.