Loyal customers are the backbone of virtually every successful business. After all, it's easier and less expensive to invest in keeping existing customers longer, than to continually find new ones. Even businesses that do manage to consistently bring in new business, can be destroyed by churn.
That's why it's so important for sales professionals to understand how to build loyalty with prospects, and how to maintain these relationships to create relationships that endure.
Doing so increases lifetime customer value, and leads to referrals, positive reviews, and word-of-mouth advertising.
Naturally, the responsibility for building loyalty falls on the shoulders of many different departments within an organization. From product developers, to management, to front line support. But there's a lot that the sales team can do.
Here are seven ways salespeople can help increase customer loyalty and longevity.
1. Deliver On Promises
This should go without saying. But in an effort to close deals, some salespeople are willing to make promises they can't actually keep. This never works in the long term. It can also kill your reputation.
The first step to building loyalty in any type of business relationship is simply to be true to your word and deliver on your promises. Keep in mind that loyalty takes a while to build. So it's imperative that you follow through on your promises consistently.
2. Stay In Contact
Ever meet a salesperson who stays in close contact until the deal is signed, and then vanishes without a trace? It's a surefire way to take all of that goodwill you've built and toss it out the window.
Loyalty comes from consistent communication before, during, and after the sale. Strengthen customer relationships by checking in from time to time.
Try to set aside time every month to check in with past customers to chat, discuss current and future needs, and provide information about new and upcoming solutions. Doing so not only makes them feel valued, but provides additional opportunities to sell.
3. Be Kind and Helpful
Staying in contact is not enough. Be committed to kind, friendly communication whether you're connecting in-person, over email, by phone, or over social media. You never know what kind of day a prospect or customer is having. Going out of your way to be patient, kind, and helpful really makes you stand out, and endears people to you for a long, long time.
4. Build Loyalty Into the Deal
What can you do to build loyalty into the deal? Longer contracts, service agreements, loyalty discounts, special access to future offerings, ongoing support, are all ways to increase customer lifetime value and keep the relationship going. Show your clients the value of building and maintaining an ongoing relationship with you.
5. Ask For and Act On Feedback
While building value into a customer relationship is important, it’s also important to make the customer feel valued by asking for feedback. This not only shows a customer that you care about his or her business and opinions, but it also gives you the chance to improve your product or service, to better suit that client - and future ones.
6. Correct Errors Quickly
Mistakes and miscommunications happen. When they do, they often leave a bad taste in the customer's mouth. Unless... they're handled quickly and willingly. When that happens, a mistake can actually have the opposite effect - establishing trust, loyalty and confidence. An eagerness to "make it right" demonstrates a genuine desire to protect the best interests of your clients.
If it's the customer who misunderstood or who is in the wrong, see what you can do to be understanding and smooth things over. Putting someone on the defensive by pointing fingers and shifting blame will bring the relationship to an abrupt end. So if you can be magnanimous, do it.
7. Small, Meaningful Gestures
Building loyalty is the result of going above and beyond what others do. There are all kinds of gestures that can make your customer feel special, and make you stand out. Send a handwritten thank you note. Ship out a company t-shirt, bottle of wine, or gift card. Remember their birthday. Reward their referral. Always be on the lookout for ways to show your contacts how much you value the relationship.
7 Ways Your Sales Team Can Create Loytalty
Loyalty is something that is earned. And as any salesperson with loyal customers knows, it takes time. So expect to put in some work; but know that once you’ve built loyalty, maintaining it will be second nature to anyone with a passion for helping others. By following the simple guidelines below, you should be able to convert virtually anyone into a loyal customer:
- Deliver on your promises
- Keep in touch
- Take a personal and personable approach
- Build loyalty into the deal
- Ask for feedback, and act on it
- Fix issues quickly and magnanimously
- Make meaningful gestures when possible
What's your best tip for earning and increasing customer loyalty?