Ask Colleen

Dear Colleen,
You always talk about how staying in touch with a customer is critical to getting more sales and more referrals. How do I do that without sounding like I am always trying to sell something to them each time I make contact?

Thanks, Allan in Washington DC.

Dear Allan,

Great question!  It is one topic that we will be spending a day on at the upcoming Sales Mastery Workshop in November. It is THAT important to get it right. To start, remember some basic rules of etiquette. Then try incorporating the following 5 habits into your sales regimen:

1.       Plan regular contacts with all your customers. According to the American Marketing Association, people can handle up to 200 contacts per year. Even I think that might be a little overkill, so how about agreeing to contact your clients once every two weeks? This will help guarantee that your clients never get the chance to forget who you are or slip away unnoticed.

2.       Never multi-task when talking to a customer. I can’t stress this enough. In the era of BlackBerry’s, cell phones and Bluetooth, we all think we can do a thousand things at once. If you’re checking your email or updating your schedule while on the phone with a client, believe me – they can tell! Whether you’re with your client in person or on the phone, give them your full attention. Turn off the cell phone, email or PDA and stay focused on the person you’re actually talking to. This won’t result in you missing out on other opportunities. It will increase your likelihood of getting more business from the customer you’re with!

3.       Show your sincere appreciation. Every time a customer buys something from you, gives you a referral or goes out of their way for you, don’t just sit back and expect that they will continue to do so in the future. Acknowledge what they have done and thank them for their business, assistance or generosity. Remember: reciprocity is, by definition, a two-way street. When people give you something and you don’t acknowledge it, most of them will think long and hard before helping you again.

4.       If you haven’t heard from a client because they are out of the office, busy, sick, traveling or just plain ignoring you, don’t stop trying to reach them. Keeping the lines of communication open will maximize the chances that you will get a response when the person is better positioned to give you one. If your usual methods of communicating aren’t working, try something innovative, like sending a message by courier, fax or snail mail. Sometimes simply shaking up the way you communicate is enough to recapture a client’s attention.

5.       Last and most definitely not least, always think of your clients first and put their needs ahead of your own. This doesn’t have to be a grand gesture or heroic act of self-sacrifice. The next time you read an article that you think might interest your client, just send it along to them with a little note (if appropriate) that says: “I thought this might be of interest to you.”

If you’re guilty of not following some of the tips outlined above, you could be about to lose more clients faster than you realized.

Dedicated to increasing your sales,


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