CRM solutions can be tremendous sales tools, but the old rules about customer relationships still apply – and still contribute to successful sales.
Although I survived – and often thrived – as a salesperson before I started using CRM software, I can’t imagine going back to a bulging Rolodex and file folders and paper scheduler. I still spend my days chasing leads and talking to people and continuing to school myself about the myriad ways that people can benefit from using my company’s products and services.
My CRM solution does a lot of the heavy lifting now. I’m not as mired in tedious administrative details, and my workflow is much more economical. I’m more productive both in the office and on the road, thanks to mobile technology. And I’m able to make more – and better targeted – connections through email and social media.
While I spend a lot of time pounding on keyboards and swiping my finger on screens and reading messages and blogs and tweets, I’m very aware that the real key to any success that I enjoy comes from my personal interaction with living, breathing human beings – my customers and prospects. I give a little more, of course, to those who represent the highest sales.
Different, But the Same
My workdays may be very different in some ways from the way they used to be, but I’m still doing my best to practice the sales etiquette that my mentors taught me. My CRM solution helps me make and track connections, collaborate with my team, and make my way through the sales pipeline far more efficiently than I could before.
But especially in dealing with my top customers, I still:
Develop relationships with multiple employees at each company. I always have a primary contact at each company, of course, but I’ve found it helpful to develop relationships with others there. It gives me other perspectives and is helpful if there’s sudden turnover.
Thank customers shortly after a sale. I know they don’t always teach kids cursive writing anymore, but you probably learned it in school. Buy some professional thank-you notes – or have some printed with your company logo and name – and send handwritten notes after a big sale. A “thank you” is really the beginning of your post-sale relationship — one that can hopefully lead to evangelism, advocacy, and referrals.
Maintain periodic contact even when outside of a sales cycle. This might be a quick email, a phone check-in, or a comment on their social media pages. Let them know you’re thinking about them and hope all’s well.
Help customers fully utilize my company’s products and services. Your big sale will be for naught if your customers aren’t getting the maximum benefit from your products or services. Ask who might be the best person to follow up with (if your contact isn’t the actual user). You could create an after-the-sale document that could be shared with all buyers. Have you tried these features? Are you encountering any problems? Could you use this related product?
Make sure that they have a go-to person for support. Depending on the situation, I sometimes ask customers to call me directly, and then route their problem to the appropriate person. There are times, though, when I want them to go straight to an expert in a particular area.
Ask for occasional feedback. How could we have served you better through the sales process? Is there a better way to contact you than the way we did?
Give special treatment to customers who refer. This is critical, especially on big ticket items. I’ve given discounts on future sales, nice promotional swag, a free product or service related to their previous sales, etc. Referrals are golden, and you want to encourage them mightily.
The Personal Touch Can Pay Off
In many cases, my efforts have been rewarded with an expression of appreciation. Occasionally, they’ve led to additional sales.
I do these things because I feel personally compelled to; they’re common courtesy. But I also feel like it’s just as important to try to be of service to my customers after the sale as it was prior to it. That approach has served me – and my customers – well.
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