July 16, 2013 by Kristine Garrett
If your business mantra is stuck on “recruit,” you may be missing an essential sales element – nurture. While this may sound like something you do to a Bonsai tree, it also applies to relationships. Nurturing client relationships is as simple as taking care of their needs on a regular basis.
When I was in sales, nurturing clients meant you took them out to lunch; dropped off Krispy Kreme donuts; and called them about the latest products available—and “oh, can I bring you a sample?” Then came the internet, email and The Atkins Diet and out went phone calls; face-to-face meetings; and carbohydrates!
Now that clients can visit your website and research products/services online, you’re probably not talking to them as much as you have in the past—making it difficult to maintain and grow those relationships. So how can you nurture them if you aren’t feeding them donuts?
Here are a few Nurturing Dos and Don’ts to remember (Notice I said, “Remember,” because you know these things; you just may need a reminder.)
Don’t give your customers the silent treatment.
When was the last time you talked to your current customers? If you’re not sure and don’t have a plan for regular follow up, it’s time to make one. Dive into your client database, and see how often you are actually communicating with your current book of business. If it’s been a while, it’s time to reconnect. If you don’t, someone else will.
Don’t take business for granted.
You know the customer that you rarely speak to, except when they need something? Every day that client probably has other sales people clamoring for his/her affection. Make sure you are the one they call in times of need by staying in touch.
Don’t get distracted.
Anyone that has been in sales before understands the cycle—prospect, service, repeat. First, you are busy looking for new business. Then, you are focused on servicing that business. Soon you realize there is not much in the pipeline and repeat the cycle. In the meantime, the customers you once worked so hard to get fall to the wayside. If you don’t have a nurture plan, your hard work may be wasted as you slowly lose contact (and sales) with customers.
Do have a strategy.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”1 That pretty much sums it up! Make a plan to follow-up with past clients.
Do be proactive.
Create a client profile to help identify your customers’ pain points. Use this to send them relevant information such as webinar or meeting invites on relevant topics—not just what you want to sell them.
Do make your customers feel valued.
It’s not price. It’s not product. The reason customers leave? It’s more than likely that they think you do not care about their business. They were not nurtured. If they were a Bonsai tree, they would be kindling! Show your customers you care—send a hand-written thank-you note, or find ways to save them money without being asked.
To help you learn how to nurture client relationships, click here to read a previous blog post about getting to know your clients.
Check out our website at www.biltd.com for more sales and marketing tips!
1 Benjamin Franklin. (n.d.) Benjamin Franklin Quotes. In Brainy Quote. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/benjaminfr138217.html.