Not by the hard sell that’s for sure.
When you flog a product or service at them with heavy pressure tactics, they run for cover; they don’t lean in to you with a willingness to listen, buy and refer you to others.
It doesn’t have to be like that.
Even the toughest customer can be turned to be your strongest and most passionate advocate but it requires you consistently perform THESE acts:
- Be “on their team”. You can’t be perceived to have only the best interests of your company in mind; place your customer in the number one position. They must believe your organization exists to serve them.
- Balance short and long term demands. Your bonus plan is most likely based on how well you perform over the next 12 months and how many products you sell. Regardless, take a longer term perspective and provide solutions that will stand the test of time. If they feel you are trying to bulk up your short term performance they will never advocate you.
- Fight for them “on the inside”. You probably don’t like getting involved in chasing down a client problem inside your organization. Order errors, billing irregularities etc. can consume an inordinate amount of time and is “painful”. You would rather pass it to the service guys, so you can get back to selling and earning your bonus. But understand that your customer expects you to deal with your internal team to sort things out. They don’t appreciate being passed around.
- Take time to get to know them. The transformation from customer to fan is driven by intimacy which builds trust. There is no short cut here; put in the time.
- Be available when they want you. YOU serve THEM; if you can’t be reached, in their time of need they will likely reach out to someone else.
- Focus on what they “care” about. It’s more than what they need. Satisfying needs deals with only the first layer of relationship building. You must dig deeper and discover what drives their emotions. Find THAT; deliver on THAT and you will create a “sneezer”.
- Surprise them. This is probably the #1 thing that fuels customer delight. A tired relationship can cultivate entitlement. Spice it up by surprising your customer from time to time with something they care about. They will return the favor with their undying support.
- Do the “little things”. Do more than the heavy lifting as often, it’s the little things that annoy or please customers. Determine their pet peeves land special likes and take care of them. They expect you to deliver the “big” solutions; they will be WOW’D! when you get involved in the messy details.
- Give them what they DON’T expect. Counterintuitively, maniacal fans are born when you DON’T meet their expectations. Delivering what they expect will only earn you a ‘C’ on your report card; blowing them away with what they aren’t expecting will get you an ‘A+’.
- Lose a sale. If you can’t deliver exactly what they need, find another provider who can. This act will keep you in control of the customer relationship, show them that you have their best interests at heart and earn you the right to sell to them again.
You won’t transform your customer to a crazy advocate overnight, but if you have these 10 plays in your playbook it will happen.
If you are looking for a “hail Mary” forget it.