As sales professionals, we sometimes run the risk of over-focusing on the close. By that I mean we secure the first agreement to do business, but then lose track of how important it is to maintain a strong ongoing relationship with current customers – a relationship with honest, continuous two-way communication as its foundation. Here are five simple ways we can improve the quality of our communication with the people who are currently buying from us and expand and deepen those relationships over time.
1. Schedule a quarterly business review meeting. Never assume that no news is good news. Once every three months, you should sit down with your customer, as well as key stakeholders, and formally review how things have been going, explore upcoming challenges, and determine whether the customer’s priorities have shifted. Sandler’s Quarterly Value Review Tool can be an important resource for these meetings.
2. Set up a company-specific communication plan. Too many salespeople improvise their ongoing communication with current customers. If the relationship is important enough to discuss with your manager, it is important enough to plan for! Create a clear written plan that addresses such issues as how often you will personally reach out to your key contact(s); how you will reach out; how often they will receive “drip” messaging from other parts of the organization; and what specific types of content they will receive as part of that drip campaign. Don't wait for an emergency to trigger your first follow-up call!
3. Decide whether others in your organization should be part of this discussion. Depending on the size and complexity of the account, it's entirely possible that senior members of your organization should be developing parallel relationships with their counterparts in your client’s organization. Discuss this with your manager and, if the account in question merits this kind of team selling approach, make the appropriate introductions.
4. Know and adapt to the DISC behavioral styles of all the key players within the account. If you don’t know how to “speak” your key contact’s DISC “language,” consider yourself at a severe competitive disadvantage to any salesperson who does. For a great rundown on DISC, and the many opportunities it gives you to get individual customers to “lean into” your messages, check out this podcast.
5. Look for opportunities to share best practices and breakthrough ideas you have picked up from other companies you’ve worked with. Of course, you must do this without violating any confidentiality or ethical responsibilities. But bear in mind that something that may seem to be a casual observation to you can have immense strategic import to your client. Because they're engaged in their own world and the pressing problems of the moment, there are lots of experiences they may miss. When you come across an idea, process, or market opportunity that you can share without compromising any other relationship, pass it along. By doing so, you will make it clear that your first priority is adding value to this person’s world, and that you are in the relationship for the long haul.
Follow these five simple strategies to improve your communication and the quality of your relationships with your customers. It could mean more business over time, and more long-term value for everyone.
Here’s another great podcast about communicating with skill.