How to Keep (and Grow with) Your Customers:
Studies show that the buyer experience has a profound effect on keeping the customers you have, particular in business-to-business sales.
That’s right. You can offer an impeccable product or service, but more than any other factor, the interactions your customers experience with your sales force help to cement their relationship with your company.
A survey of B2B customers by Gartner (then CEB) some years back revealed that it was the buyer’s experience with the sales representative that accounted for 53% of customer loyalty — more than the brand, the delivery and the product itself combined.
The B2B buyers in the survey relied on their sales representatives to give them perspective on their markets. They also depended on them for myriad other needs:
- To help them navigate alternatives. An educated salesperson knows your products or services inside and out — and your sales force can help customers to find the best options within your company’s offerings so that they aren’t tempted to stray.
- To educate them about potential land mines. Your sales team knows the dangers on the horizon within the industry, and they can assist buyers in preparing for what’s to come.
- To provide support throughout the buyer’s organization. It’s not uncommon for a savvy salesperson to have multiple connections within a buyer’s company, or to offer assistance at many different levels, thus further cementing a strong relationship.
- To make it easy to buy from them. Your sales team is your company’s front door — open, approachable, and knowledgeable. They are a trusted presence as buyers explore the range of solutions your company provides.
When today’s B2B customers agree to meet with one of your sales reps, they are looking for a long-term partner and trusted adviser to help them solve problems and succeed in their responsibilities. But how much have you thought about the sales experience that your organization delivers? Have you put strategic effort in to making that experience compelling?
At the risk of being caught in the crossfire, I’d like to share a thought about the upcoming Presidential election, now a month away. Despite the zeal you may have for the candidate or party of your choice (or perhaps more likely, about how terrible the opposition is) consider this: those voting for the opposite side may not be trying to destroy America. They may have different views about what’s best for the country, but that doesn’t mean they are evil. Most people are getting and sharing headlines in their own echo chambers, which unfortunately doesn’t value understanding the perspective of the other side. While there are definitely extremes on each side of our political spectrum, the majority of Americans are reasonable people who want the best for our country. During this time of high political division, avoid getting sucked into the devolving argument that the other party is purely malicious. They may just think differently than you. In fact, now is a good time, if possible, to have calm constructive conversations about the many things we all do agree upon.
No One Was Ever Inspired by Email:
A client recently reminded me of this comment from my speech to her company last year. “No one was ever inspired by an email.” My speech was on the topic of Inspiring Leadership, and having analyzed 360 degree feedback on over 25,000 leaders while researching my book, I never once heard that a leader “sent great emails” or anything like it. I’m sharing this because email tends to be a default way to communicate in many companies and its use has increased throughout the pandemic. Yet, most people complain that it is overused. While it can be useful for sharing quick information, it’s a lousy tool to foster collaboration, communicate important messages, or do anything that improves performance. If you want to inspire, to move others to action, call someone, get on a videoconference, or meet safely in person. Whatever you do, next time you are reflexively sending/responding to emails, ask yourself – is email the best medium for this message?
Employee happiness is always a worthwhile goal as the cost of replacing a valued contributor can be steep. In her 15Five blog post, “How Leadership Can Reap Big Rewards By Creating A ‘Self-Care Culture,’” Elisa Silverman offers ideas for how to go beyond time off, or so-called “mental health days,” for workplace stress reduction. She reports that fostering a work culture of self-care can mean happier people and higher employee engagement. Check out this article for good ideas on caring for your employees by encouraging them to care for themselves. And while you are at it, perhaps a good chance for you to consider what you are doing to care for yourself!