Keep Your Customers: Create A Relationship Management Process
What happens after the prospect says ‘yes’? Are you prepared today for what comes next? As business owners, we all want to build profitable, scalable and sustainable businesses, but is this how we operate with customers in real-time?
Is your business set-up to manage the customer relationship from first order through the various life-cycle phases of a profitable long-term business relationship?
Most solopreneurs and small business owners have, at a minimum, a general understanding of the steps in the sales process they must complete, from prospecting to customer acceptance, in order to get to ‘yes’ and complete the sale (i.e. 7 Touch Marketing). However, it is what comes after the prospect says yes that is most important in helping distinguish your business from its competitors.
Keep this in mind … the initial order obtained from a new customer is little more than a “rite of passage”.
Transactional selling is fast becoming a thing of the past. Prospective clients expect more from the companies they choose to do business with in today’s highly competitive markets and, as suppliers, we want to keep them coming back for more!
To effectively build long-term business relationships you must demonstrate a willingness to deliver value-based solutions and stay the course far beyond the initial sale. Building great relationships in this manner will help lead to future add-on sales, referrals, cost savings and profits.
What is Customer Relationship Management?
Now, in order to develop long-term relationships with clients (as well as suppliers and partners) some form of Customer Relationship Management process is required. Customer relationship management is an approach to managing the interactions that take place with current and future customers. It can often involve the use of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to help organize, automate and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service and support. However, it’s less about technology and more about staying actively engaged with the client throughout the life-cycle of the relationship.
How To Develop A Customer Relationship Management Process
So, how do you develop a customer relationship management process that will distinguish your business from the competition, if one does not already exist? Here are some basics you’ll want to consider to get started:
- Outline ‘next steps’ from initial order through the life-cycle.
- Develop clear roles/responsibilities/deliverables/time-frames.
- Frequently and consistently communicate via various channels.
- Schedule periodic checkpoint meetings and client surveys.
- Follow-up and meet all stakeholder commitments.
- Obtain client feedback on any major new initiatives.
- Establish a client loyalty and rewards program.
- Maintain accurate client information and database records.
As you get further along in the development phase, you may want to consult with a CRM expert to help fill in the blanks before adopting the customer relationship management approach you have developed.
Effectively managing relationships with those who buy and use your company’s products and services has never been more important than it is today. Make sure you are prepared for what comes next after the prospect says yes. Build upon your company’s value message the right way by treating clients like true partners rather than just a source of short-term revenue.
What strategies have you been using to manage the customer relationship? Comment below and let’s discuss.