When you get along with a customer, it's easy to consider them a friend and friends are likely to forgive any small missteps. However, that's where the sales relationship differs because the fragile relationship between a client and a sales associate is not as likely to survive a series of mistakes on the associate's part.
To protect and cultivate these vital business relationships, take care to avoid damaging them – even if it's inadvertent.
Mistake 1: You don't listen to the client
As a savvy businessperson, you might think you know which product or strategy is best for the client and you might even be right. But a customer often knows what he wants, and it's important to take that into consideration versus forging ahead with what you think is best.
Keep in mind that a customer likely will not alert you that they feel like they are not being listened to; they will, most likely, just sever the relationship. Help your client relationship blossom by advising the customer and then working jointly on a strategy that will be successful for both parties.
Mistake 2: You have not learned enough about the client
When you're juggling several clients, it's time-consuming to get to know the ins and outs of each of their businesses but it's a step that cannot be overlooked, particularly if you work in a niche market. If a customer thinks you're not tailoring your approach to their business, or if you're mixing up the specifics of two different businesses, it's easy for a customer to walk away on the premise that you're not knowledgeable enough to help build their business.
Start the business relationship off the right way by asking the client for data and information you need to know to help them succeed.
Mistake 3: Your colleagues are not consistent
There's nothing more frustrating for a client than hearing one thing from a sales associate and then another thing from a different member of the same company.
Ensure your company has a written policy that offers guidelines on everything from how support staff answers the phone to handling complaints and then make sure all staff knows to adhere to it.
Mistake 4: You don't follow-up
A client purchases a product or hires a service to fulfil a specific need; once that need has been met, it's easy to let the relationship fall by the wayside. Keep the customer in the loop about the company by consistently checking in, sending emails or newsletters, or just saying "Hi." You want to remind the client that you provide a service they need so that when it comes time to achieve that need, you're the first thought in his head.
Don't forget to continually thank the customer for their business – a client who thinks his business is not appreciated will find another representative who offers gratitude.
Above all, you want to keep your personal and professional daily reputation in tact as a valuable service provider. The good vibes you give to your client will likely lead to additional business once that customer spreads the word and that's the best reward you can receive.
About the author: Kelsey Castle is a freelance writer and editor.