Your first win with a new customer is absolutely one of which to be proud. Was it a competitive battle where you came out on top? Or was your new customer so impressed by you and your product that a competitor was not even considered? Why did you win? Any one of the following or a combination may be the reason:
- Best price
- Best product/service (according to online reviews)
- A referral from a trusted source to your new customer
- You did a great job in asking questions and listening, resulting in targeting the exact reasons your prospect selected you and you’re offering.
- Your demonstration clearly showed the superiority of your product.
- You asked for the order! (something everyone in sales should do).
- They liked you personally and wanted to do business with you.
- Other reasons.
If you are not sure why you won the business, ask your new customers. They will be happy to tell you. Everyone likes to say positive things. They will feel good about their decision to go with you, and this will also put you in a position to ask for referrals and to give you information on what you need to do to get return business. Yes, you should be very happy and proud of those first wins.
Your Are Creating Your Record!
How many times have you seen a politician successfully get elected to office only to lose the reelection? In the first go, that politician made a lot of claims and promises. In the simplest case, the voters were inspired and enthused. They went to the polls, and the politician was elected to office. So why the loss in the next election? The reason was because this first-time winner now has a record. The claims and promises during the second campaign were met with suspicion and doubt based on the achievements or lack thereof during the first term in office. When enough voters are dismayed, they choose an alternative.
This could also be the case with you as a businessperson. You, too, made claims and promises when you competed for and won that first order. Now, you are building a record of your own. If you want to build loyalty, it is not enough to simply deliver your product or service. You must deliver on your claims and promises. It starts with making sure the product was delivered on time and in good condition. How will you know if you don’t personally follow up with your customers? Don’t wait for them to call you with a problem. Contact them immediately to see how everything is going. If there is a problem, do not push your customer off to someone else. Walk them to the person or department that will get the situation corrected, make the introduction, and then follow up with both the customer and the support person to check and validate the customer’s status and satisfaction.
I learned a painful lesson when I thought I had done everything right. As a new salesperson assigned to an existing customer, I walked into his facility and immediately noticed that he had a bank of video displays that did not look right. I had recently seen a similar situation at another customer site, where I had gotten the problem fixed, to the great delight of that customer. I offered the same service to my new customer. I told him that I would have a service technician get in contact with him and get them fixed. He was very happy with that offer, and everything went according to plan. Upon following up, I learned that one of the displays went bad. I said, “No problem, just give the service tech a call, and he will run right out and take care of it.” That is exactly what happened. I thought everything was good. One year later, I learned from a colleague that this customer did not ever want to see me again. I could not figure out what I could have done to have aggravated him to this level. Here is the lesson learned. I asked the customer to call the service technician. He believed that I should have contacted the service technician on his behalf and not made him do the work. From that day forward, I always ask, “Would you like me to make this call for you, or would you prefer to make the contact and explain the situation yourself?” My customers always appreciated this question. My simple error in judgment on what looks like a very minor incident cost me future business with this customer. For him, it became my record.
A more positive example is a project I worked on for a government agency that took two years from beginning to end. It was a large, complex, and competitive situation. During this time, I developed an incredibly strong relationship with the very top person and staff. I was onsite no less than once every two weeks. I did smaller jobs with them while the big one was underway. I regularly followed up on all of those smaller wins. As I learned their operations, I was able to make suggestions that they found helpful and implemented. I was building a positive record for myself. Not only did I win the big order, but they also trusted me to the point they would request my advice and assistance on requirements where I had no knowledge or expertise. When I pointed this reality out to them, they replied that they knew that. But they also knew that I would find the best sources for them to get the answers or products they needed. I became a trusted partner in the truest sense. The referrals that resulted from the goodwill earned with this customer created new sales from other government customers that totaled millions of dollars over several years.
It is not unusual for salespeople to be calling on customers when they are ready to make a purchase. What differentiates salespeople from their potential competitors is those who check in on their customers on a regular basis simply to see how everything is working. They appreciate it when you let them know in advance of enhancements, upgrades, or known issues before they experience the issues or learn of the upgrades from someone else. Of course, it is true that your product must perform to specifications and expectations. When this is the case, your customers are not focused on your product or service because they are not a problem. Your stuff is working fine. Their attention is elsewhere. This is a good thing. You are not a problem. All the more important for you to be visible in positive ways. When a competitor comes knocking on their door, your customers will tell them that they are set and satisfied with their current provider, you!
Celebrating Your 2nd Win, And Today’s Takeaway
Your record could be translated as your credibility. Providing a reliable product or service that is benefiting your customer is a minimum expectation. Providing regular and valuable post sales support will make you stand out, and you will be viewed as an asset to your customers. Your customers will know they can count on you to come through when needed. When they have a need for your products or services, they will call you. This is because you have a record, a great record. You have earned their trust. Every time you receive a second, third or fourth order from your customers, take a moment and celebrate you, you earned it!
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