We all know the “one-hit wonders. They sell the customer and then disappear. Their paperwork is a mess, and they want nothing to do with the follow-up. Often times they are great salespeople and businesses depend on them. I had a business owner ask me what he should do with his best salesperson. The salesperson could sell anyone but after that he was nothing but trouble. He made mistakes in his estimates, and his paperwork was all over the place. The owner didn’t want to get rid of him because he brought in so much business, but everyone had to clean up after him.
I suggested he explain to the person how much it was costing them to do his follow through. Why not use part of his commission to pay for an assistant, (he was that good), and then he could do what he did best, sell. He decided to “clean up his act’ because he didn’t want anyone to have any of his money.
One hit wonders, razzle/ dazzle the customer and go on to the next one. To them, the only customer who is important to them is “the new one; “follow-through is not their strong point. This salesperson, likes the excitement of “capturing” an unknown customer. To them when it’s over, it’s over. It’s the hunt that they like.
Unfortunately, your ability to follow through and keep in touch with your sold customer will determine whether you get a referral. Referrals are the lifeblood of any business and 85% of your new customers will come from referrals. If you disappear after you sell the customer, where will you get your referrals?
I’ve been a salesperson my whole life; I understand the “thrill of the hunt.” When I was in the flooring business, I went from retail to the commercial end of the business. I loved growing the commercial business. The profits were bigger; the customers were more complex, and I had to work hard on building relationships and “stealing” customers. I gave up retail selling because the retail customers all seemed the same. Follow-up was key and referrals within a company came from doing a good job. When I was writing my book on Commercial Flooring (which is out of print) I interviewed Donald LaDuke, the original owner of Barry, Bette, LeDuke, from Albany, New York. I asked Donald what made a good subcontractor and Donald replied, “One that I’ve never heard of!” In other words, this was someone who did their work and didn’t cause a problem.
Here are three things you can do to build great follow through.
Remind yourself how valuable your customer is and how they will help you build your “personal” business.” Come up with a strategy for staying in touch after the sale.
Find out what makes each customer unique. Then decide how you can continue to build the relationship. It may be their field of business or their community connections.
Work hard at maintaining your connections. It will be easy with some customers and more difficult with others. Once they’re sold ask how you can stay in touch on line through social media or through emails. All of this has to do with two skills that I wrote about on the Albany Times Union: Communication and Connections.
Lisbeth has been helping businesses build retail strategies for over 20 years. To have her speak to your staff or develop a sales/customer service training program, she can be reached at [email protected].