Quick – think of a moment during the selling/buying process that is most prone to tension.
- The first time you meet with a new client?
- Presenting your proposal?
- Dealing with objections?
- Handling a problem?
All of the above are true. While the job of the salesperson is to minimize these points of tension, they’re bound to occur, especially during these moments listed above. But there is another time of tension for the client that may surprise you. Can you guess? One of the most stressful times for the client is after they’ve signed the contract and agreed to do business with you. In fact, according to a new report from global marketing agency R/GA, right after contract, 60% of customers globally are unsure if they would make the same purchase decision if given the opportunity to do it again.
Yep, when the salesperson is off celebrating closing the deal, the client is asking themself “What the heck have I done?” Even worse than second guessing their decision, they may be experiencing full-blown buyer’s remorse.
This is not the time to take your foot off the gas. Immediately after a client agrees to do business with you is one of the most important times to support their buying decision. This moment presents a unique opportunity to solidify your relationship, strengthen trust with your client, as well as differentiate you from your competitors. (Who are, by the way, off celebrating and not paying as much attention to the client as they should be.)
With the new virtual selling world, it’s more important than ever that we know what’s important to our customers and why. Most of us are moving quickly between back to back virtual calls. Our attention spans are shorter, and there is less relaxed time to spend relating. So how do you leverage this moment of tension and ensure that your customer is over-the-top satisfied with their decision to do business with you?
Here are four best practices that will help you support your client after the sale, and set you up for stronger relationships and increased future business:
1. Reinforce the Buying Decision
This is a great time to formally thank the client, and remind them of why they chose you in the first place. It’s also the perfect time to confirm what you and your team will do to ensure that they made the right decision. Do you go out of your way to thank your customer? Not just a cursory email with a “thank you” buried in a lot of other text and thoughts. A real Thank You. In our hi-tech virtual world, a hand written Thank You note is high touch, and truly unique. Years ago, my husband and I did a major bathroom remodel. Among the many things the sales consultant did brilliantly, she sent a sincere thank you note, but she didn’t stop there. She had the project manager send us a personalized letter introducing himself & his role, thanking us again for our business, introducing us to the GM, and reiterating their commitment to our satisfaction.
One of my clients sends their new customers a golf shirt with their branded logo on it – welcoming them to the team.
Do you have a relevant case study or client testimonial that addresses how well a similar project turned out? Send it along to your new customer. It will build credibility and help allay any concerns they may have about potential risks involved with their upcoming project.
What about an announcement of an award for quality, or excellence, or safety? As long as the award is important to this client, it will be meaningful to them. Show them in a quick screen share in a virtual meeting, or send it over to them.
2. Enhance the Relationship
According to TARP (Technical Assistance Research Program), 68% of customer churn is due to the customer feeling like the supplier “doesn’t care.” It’s imperative that your customer knows how important they are to you. How do you define what an enhanced relationship looks like? Well, that all depends upon the customer, doesn’t it? The key here is what the customer would say their definition is? What’s important to them? And why? How do they want you to communicate with them? Through what medium – phone, email, virtual, face to face, text, other? And how often? What kinds of information are important for them to know, and why? Here is where all of your great Discovery skills come into play. Be sure to ask these types of questions, and then follow through.
3. Manage the Implementation
What must go right during the implementation for your customer to be satisfied? Not only do we need to know what concerns they have, but also, what would make this project a success for them?
Do you and/or your client have internal team members that you need to transition the project to? One of my clients in a highly technical industry decided they need to conduct a “transition meeting” with their clients, to introduce key members of the project implementation team, their roles, and the value they bring. Instead of conducting these conversations inconsistently or “just in time”, they made it part of their formal process to intentionally schedule time with their project team and the customer’s team. They have a clear agenda (PPP) and make sure to anticipate and address the client’s questions and concerns. This meeting not only sets everyone up for success, they come across as professional and forward-thinking, two very important attributes to most clients.
Prior to a meeting with the client, it’s a good idea to meet with your own internal team. This is where your Discovery Agreement can quickly get team members up to speed on what’s critical to the client and why. This is the time to clarify roles, make sure you know who’s accountable for key tasks, anticipate questions and concerns the client may have so you can address them proactively during your transition meeting. With this preparation, your team will look like you have your act together in front of the client – because you do!
4. Deal with Dissatisfaction
Of course, the ideal is to plan well so you minimize and avoid opportunities for client dissatisfaction. When you meet with your internal team, anticipate what might go wrong as the customer goes about using this solution? How can we head this off proactively so that it doesn’t become a problem?
There will be times, of course, when problems happen. In their best-selling book, “Moments: Why certain experiences have extraordinary impact,” Chip Heath and Dan Heath share a statistic from their research that up to 28% of the most loyalty building, magic moments we create for clients are the result of how we resolved a problem. In other words, we can actually strengthen our relationships with customers by how we pay attention to and resolve problems.
Do your best to pre-empt problems by anticipating and planning proactively, and don’t avoid dissatisfaction when it occurs. Consider yourself fortunate if a customer lets you know they are unhappy:
- For every customer complaint, there are 26 other customers who have remained silent. (Lee resource Inc.)
- A dissatisfied consumer will tell between 9 and 15 people about their experience. (White House Office of Consumer Affairs, Washington, DC)
Encourage your customers to communicate if there’s a problem. And consistently check in to get their thoughts on how they think the project is going. Watch their non-verbal cues, either when you are in person or on screen, to check for reactions and responses.
By consistently reinforcing your customer’s buying decision, enhancing the relationship, managing the implementation and dealing with any dissatisfaction, you will continue to build your client relationships, resulting in increased referrals and future business, along with a far more enjoyable working process with your customers.