They’re the lifeblood of your surface fabrication company. Without a steady flow of customers, sales would dry up and your business would die. Indeed, it takes ample numbers of new and loyal customers to build a healthy bottom line.
The way you interact with them and handle the sales process determines if they’ll return to your business or not. Whether they’re merely considering doing business with you or they end up buying, everything depends on relationship selling. When you take the time to build relationships with your customers, advising them on the best surfacing products that will fulfill their clients’ needs, you’ll see them again and again, as well as those they’re happy to refer to you.
Relationship selling puts your customers’ needs first, with you as a well-informed adviser helping them make the most intelligent buying decisions. “Focus on the person standing in front of you and the lifetime value of that customer, not the product and the immediate profit you’ll gain from the sale,” says Steven Lloyd, president of Steven Lloyd Associates, a sales consulting and training firm in Arlington, Texas. “It’s the only true way to successfully sell, and build, a business.”
An Increasing Need
More and more business owners in every industry are engaging in relationship selling, especially given:
- The uncertain economy. These days, many people feel somewhat insecure, financially. More than getting a good deal, they want to feel confident about how and where they spend their money. They’d rather do business with a company that cares about their needs, than one just out to make a buck.
- Consumers’ preferences. Increasingly, people are choosier about where they shop around for the best product selection, price and services. And they’re turning to the Internet because of convenience and speed. Increase the chances of your business being among the ones that they contact by putting your message where they are choosing to look.
- Consumers’ need for sincerity. “People are waking up,” says Lloyd. “They’re no longer buying an illusion of sincerity from a business owner who is really dishing out a high-pressured, manipulated sales tactic. The more high-tech our society becomes, the more we need to be high-touch.”
- The competition. Other surface fabrication businesses may emphasize low prices, but when yours focuses on developing a relationship with customers and fulfilling their needs, they’re more likely to come to you, instead. Make it easy for them.
- The cost of attracting business. Consider the expense to draw people to your company. Whatever you budget for your signage and advertising is too much only to have customers walk out or hang up, dissatisfied. Get a decent return on your investment by fulfilling the needs of as many customers as possible.
The Benefits Are Mutual
With relationship selling, your customers feel good about doing business with you. Meanwhile, you can expect:
- Repeat business. When that new customer enjoys a positive purchasing experience at your company, he’s likely to return. This means increased sales for you.
- Loyal customers. They return not just once, but many times. Create a brand out of your business name. Make your company be the one people think of, first.
- Referrals. When you develop relationships with your customers, they become part of your promotional team. Every businessperson knows that the best advertising is word of mouth.
- Friends. Over time, some customers could turn into friends. That’s beneficial to you, personally, but also to your business.
The Big Picture
Relationship selling involves more than the sales process. It begins with your advertising, continues into your parking lot and product displays and keeps going long after the customer has purchased that beautiful countertop. Incorporate systems to determine the success of your advertising, and measure sales and service. Understand what creates buying customers and how to build and retain them.
- Train your staff. Teach staff to effectively talk about your products and services, and develop a positive rapport with customers. Conduct regularly scheduled sessions to refresh their knowledge and expertise, and provide ongoing coaching.
- Know your products. Know about everything you’re expected to sell, and be able to describe and demonstrate facts, features and benefits to the customer, in relation to his and his client’s needs. He needs enough information to feel empowered to make a decision.
- Invest time in your customers. Many people may make several trips to your fabrication business before they buy, spending an hour or more each time. Take the time with them, so they know you’re most interested in selling what they want to buy.
- Earn the customer’s trust. Build rapport with him by letting his agenda and needs drive the sales process. He’ll be much more receptive to what you can offer. A good indicator of established trust is when the customer returns to your business for more information — and then buys.
The Sales Process