Who’s Your Best Customer?

Your best customer is the one you already have

Your best customer is the one you already haveWhether we’re talking present sales or future prospects, the customer you have is your best bet for economic growth. So regardless of what else you do to build sales, never stop thinking about ways to keep that existing customer satisfied.

It really boils down to those basics we all know but too often forget in the pace of business:

  1. Know your customer
  2. Listen to what their goals are
  3. Stop selling and start solving their problems
  4. Service, service, service

Nowhere in that list is lowest price. You already have their trust and confidence. Go build on it by putting the customer first.

When the customer wins, you win

When the customer wins, you winFollow these simple tips to help you help your customers.

  • Start by learning and cataloging everything you can about a customer’s business. The more you know, the easier it will be to find new ways to be helpful. And the more helpful you are, the more the customer will think of you first.
  • Listen for feedback. Really listen. When you don’t hear it, ask for it.
  • Communicate on a personal level, supplying real information instead of a sales pitch. Put the emphasis on the customer as a knowledgeable buyer, and not on yourself as the seller.
  • Increase the value of what you sell by showing how it satisfies the customer’s customer.
  • Above all, remember that service is the name of the game when it comes to retaining customers over the long-term.

Do You Have A Customer Engagement Strategy?

Do You Have A Customer Engagement Strategy?To create great experiences for customers, you must know what you want customers to feel, think and do at every stage of the relationship.

That’s the value of having a strong Customer Engagement strategy. It’s a process that can shift your efforts to being more proactive and more rewarding for your customer.

Hopefully, you already have a customer engagement strategy but if not, take a look at the Channel Instincts post:  Is It a Fire Drill Every Time Your Customer Calls?

Good Selling!

Photo credit: Sloan Review

Are You Your Customer’s Biggest Fan?

Are You Your Customers Biggest Fan?Ever buy something that costs less than the thing you really wanted because it looked all right and somebody said it would work just as well?

Then, when it didn’t live up to your expectations, did you tell yourself you’d gotten what you paid for?  We’ve all done it.

Stop selling on product and price!

Yet, people continue to buy based on appearances and price…and to make them comfortable about products that can’t be tried before they’re bought, both makers and sellers issue liberal promises. Those promises are on the web, in advertising and sales literature. They are repeated by sales people, and reinforced by warranties.

But, customers sold on unfulfilled promises can be lost forever once they are unsold. The web and social media give these unhappy customers a megaphone to declare their disappointment, frustration and, occasionally, raw bitterness.

There is a way, however, to beat the price game, still make the sale, and keep the customer satisfied. The answer is to add value to your product lines.

Tthe way to do that is to stand out from the competition.

The real key to unlocking growth with your customers is to align your business with their needs

Key to unlocking growth with your customers is to align your business with their needsTruth is, having the right product at the right price and an acceptable level of service are the cost of entry today.

You have to stop selling product features and specifications.

You need to start selling

  • Service
  • Relationships
  • Customer success

Your customers, like all of us, are bombarded with thousands of messages everyday…family stuff, business, the news of the day, social media, advertising, email, sales promotion, publicity. The trick is to avoid having your message lost in the daily clutter. So your customers know who you are, what you have to offer, and that you care when they’re ready to buy.

Looking beyond products

Looking beyond productsIt’s the “care” part that makes you different.

You have to guarantee their satisfaction. Your sales people must be knowledgeable. You have to offer the best products available in every price range…best for the money, best for the application, best for builder, best for remodeler and homeowner satisfaction.

You’re an expert at what you do. That means you need to look up from the day-to-day business long enough to identify market problems and turn them in to advantages.

Do this customer by customer with the goal of being the supplier who is most committed to their success. Leverage your strengths as the marketplace expert and resource.

Why adding value is good for your business

Good for your businessThe end result? You will stand out in your customer’s minds. You will make your competition irrelevant because all they are selling is product. And if they are using price as their primary sales tool, this strategy makes price less important.

That’s why adding value is good for your business.

Because aligning to customer needs benefits you with…

  • Increased customer loyalty
  • Less price sensitivity
  • Higher sales

And, that helps you stand out in a crowded marketplace, beat the market’s economic swings and pitfalls, and increase sales profitability.

For other posts on value from Channel Instincts, see Are You Ready For A Dog Eat Dog World? and  Are You Delivering Real Value to Your Customers?

Good Selling!

Image via Shutterstock

What Does “Your Price Is Too High” Really Mean?

Dec-Jan 2010-2011 035It could mean, “I don’t like you, get out.”

It could mean, “I am testing you. I have nothing to lose.”

It could mean, “You haven’t shown your value to me.”

It could simply mean, “I’ll get a better price by saying this.”

It could mean, “I am only doing what you as a salesperson have trained me to do.”

Hints when selling around price

Don’t fear your price!  Be confident and not ashamed.

  • Know your value
  • Know your competition
  • Know your customers’ needs

Never start discussing a price quote with phrases such as:

  • You better sit down before I quote you my price.
  • This is the best I can do.

Don’t open your price up to negotiation with leading phrases:

  • You know I want to work with you.
  • I’ve been doing business with you a long time.
  • I sure don’t want to lose your business.
  • I could give you a lower price if…
  • Since you are one of our better customers, maybe I can let you have it for this price.

Never invite or challenge your customer to “shop” your price. 

This is what to avoid saying:

  • Our price is lower than anybody’s.
  • Comparatively speaking, I think we have the best price in the market.
  • Our new price is…

Avoid placing yourself in a defeated position on price.  Here are a few examples of what to avoid:

  • Just tell me where I need to be.
  • What do I have to do to get your business?
  • Am I in the ballpark?
  • Of course I could give you an even better price if…

When A Buyer Says…

“I don’t care about service, delivery or quality.  Price is all that is important.”  Response: “Okay then we’ll provide you poor service and quality products.”  This will put them in a position that forces them to admit their statement is false — they do care.  This will allow you to reinforce your value.

“My guys sell what the customers want.  They don’t see the difference.”   This is a great opportunity to meet and sell the salespeople.  Ask if you can talk to his people.  This is a great “pull through” opportunity.  Once you sell the sales reps — price becomes a lot less of an issue.

“We are reducing down to only two suppliers.  If you want to be one of them, you’ll need to get right!”  In this situation, never cut your price without the commitment of what will be gained.  At this stage a price quote without the commitment will only be used to leverage the other participants.  Response: List your competitive advantages; assure the buyer that you will be competitive and that if he’ll make the commitment now — on the spot — you’ll close the deal.  Put the heat back on them!

“I need an incentive to cut off a long-term vendor.  You must be lower if you want me to do so!”  Response: Only commit to being competitive.  If they didn’t have a need they would never consider a change.

What’s marketing looking for?

What does the marketing team look at when making a price decision?

  • Will the price requested set a new market low?
  • Will we be profitable with all the program added in?
  • Does it add or cut back ends?
  • Do we carry a price premium over our competition?
  • Can we reduce the “let’s make a deal” nature of our business?
  • Are we acting as industry leaders?

Make sure that the customer has truly earned and justified the price they need.  Make sure you are comparing apples to apples — there are many elements of price — get your facts straight. 

Once price is relinquished make sure you have gained something for the value you provided.  Finally, communicate thoroughly, professionally and always be reinforcing your value.

For other Channel Instincts posts on pricing, see Is pricing making you go bananas? or Are you pricing for volume or profit?