When I started my sales career I was brought up in the old school way of sales -- cold call like crazy, prospect until you dropped, hunt them, kill them, and collect your money. One and done.
Account management? What the hell is that?
My job was to get prospects into my funnel and close them. After that, I had no idea what to do because nobody taught me what to do. In my outside sales career I just closed and moved on to the next sale.
If the prospect churned the next month I didn’t care because I was too busy hunting new business -- I didn’t have a client list because the only time I was in the office was to turn in a contract or show my manager the business cards I collected (unless it was a blow-off day and I went fish bowl prospecting -- which happened a lot)
Getting those cards was gold. It was my raison d’être, because without a contract or business cards, there was no proof that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing -- it was old-school accountability.
So when I came back with a signed contract -- proving closed business -- I turned it in with much fanfare and put it up on the board, the measuring stick of sales success and worthiness. (And if I ever had two sales in one day I would only turn one in and sandbag it for the next day so I could go play hoops or golf -- hey, I was 22 years old!)
Once that contract was in, I had no idea what happened to my client. I never reached out to them or did any account management or customer service. When they were done, they were dead to me. I didn’t check in with clients to see how their families were (even if I’d referenced the family picture on their desk as a way to gain trust, build rapport, and eventually close the deal). I didn’t care whether the product had actually helped them. I only cared about me, mine, and my next sale.
Following up with your clients post-sale isn’t about making more money. It’s about staying in touch with the real gold, the client, and seeing how they are.
Have you ever told your client you loved them? I have. Of course, it has to be said with the right touch of humor and playfulness, and be a declaration of real love. I have a client who I tell that if he keeps doing business with me I’ll visit him and we’ll do cartwheels on the beach and our families will high-five and sing songs.
I’ll ask clients if anyone has told them they love them today, and if not I tell them that I do. It’s very disarming, makes them laugh, and helps build a bond. I know my competitors aren’t doing that -- I know this because they haven’t built the kind of relationships I have with my clients and so they can’t say these kinds of things.
Do you have a real bond with your clients? If not, they can be easily stolen away. If you value your clients, you should continually let them know you care about them and are interested in helping them be successful by continually showing them value. In our highly commoditized world, clients have many options so when they buy from you, it’s proof that you have shown them value and made a connection. Why would you ever ignore them and risk losing that?
I made these mistakes as a young salesman who only looked for the sale, and as I matured in the sales business and lost a lot of clients because of this ignorance, I vowed I wouldn’t lose a client due to inattentiveness again.
Here are 15 ways to show you care about and value your clients:
- Send handwritten notes and thank-you cards
- Call them on their birthday
- Monitor the LinkedIn feed that notifies you when your contact is mentioned in the news
- Call them and tell them you are grateful for their business
- Refer a prospective client to them
- Send them news about their Alma Mater
- Send them articles you see that are published about them
- Tell them you love them (when appropriate and the right amount of humor)
- Send them a funny video
- Take them to lunch or dinner
- Call and ask them what they wish your company could do different for them
- Ask for their advice
- Share the content they produce on all of your social media channels
- Buy and send them a book they would be interested in.
- Send them 10 ideas that may help them improve their business or process
Existing customers are your best source of additional business and referrals. They literally help feed your family, so treat them like the gold they are. Be interested in their success, provide maximum value and build a solid relationship with them.