Ringing cash registers and planning for repeat performances

Mark Sheehan offers tips for showing your customers how much you value them

You got the customer – congratulations! Now what? I proudly wear the moniker of ‘the can-opener’. It’s even nicer than being told you’ve got the skills to sell igloos to Eskimos. The fact is, getting the customer aboard is just the skinny point of the pencil.

The real mother-load exists in the creating of the relationship. It takes us three times more ‘frequency’, and at least four times more time to cultivate a new customer, than it does to keep, nurture, and add value to the one we’ve already got in our top pocket.  Cultivate a current relationship, invest in your current audience, and you’ll be amazed at what it’ll do for you.

Add humanity, and you’ve just ‘super-sized’ the relationship. I add humanity to every call I make, every note I write, every customer or prospect I ‘serve’. I do this, even as ‘the boss’. Show me one successful person who says they ‘did it on their own’ and I’ll show you a liar. Creating a point of ‘differentiation’ connection between you and your customer is critical to your long-term success.

I always bring something to my meetings or my messages: a dozen donuts or a quick up-tempo blurb about good news to share.

“If people like you, they’ll go out of their way to work with you, or buy from you”
– Sam Walton

Honestly, I forget what I’ve had for breakfast, but I’ll make meticulous note of what my valued customer reveals to me about themselves and their business.

“Sorry mate, I can’t make that meeting. It’s my son’s school play…” Translates to a chase call afterwards like “Hope your son didn’t ‘break a leg’?”

Meanwhile, any insider tips go into this bucket, for future consideration. Try it.

Cultivate the points of ‘differentiation’

No two snowflakes are ever alike. No matter what your delivery point may be, work yourself into the openings.

I use face-to-face, e-mail, phone and handheld entry points with my valued customers at every opportunity.

If your customer needs to get straight to the bottom line – no time for chat – believe me they’ll tell you!

When we were taking Rubicon public, we dined out on the coverage: “Who the hell are those guys?” Launch an airline with Richard Branson? Step out on the wing of the airplane…bring celebrity friends along for background filler.  

The point is, being memorable can happen, even in your memos. Think of ways you also, can add value, seasoned with value to your communications.  

“Proper planning prevents poor performances”
– Japanese business credo

Cultivating a current client rapport has many long-term rewards. I had a real crisis with supplier 15 years ago, and the person on the other end of the issue went above and beyond the scope of their job description to fix the nightmares to satisfaction.

They were professional, yet showed the humanity required to keep me and my business intact. I commended her to the CEO of the outfit, letting it be known we would ‘stick’ because of this singular person’s commitment.

A year later, I got a note, saying this very same person was leaving, for a change of venue to pursue a dream, and a job placement in New York City – no firm plans; she was just letting her clients know she was moseying on. I was only one of hundreds, yet felt like she was speaking directly to me. Today, she happily runs the New York office…

It’s a wrap

The handsome Massai of East Africa have a saying which involves a series of tongue clicks. In translation it suggests that ‘The best way to eat the elephant, is still, one tiny bite at a time’.

Adding a bit of yourself to your customer relations is only a tiny bite towards adding true value. If you win them today, you’ll see them back again and again. You’ll know you nailed it if they start naming children after you!

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