How to create good customer relations
When it comes down to it, business is about good customer relations. In no place is this more evident than in the sales department, but it also applies to everyone, including our guest writer, Kasper Nielsen, CEO of ORANGE elevator. He explains why he picks up the phone 1,000 times each year, just to hear how his customers are doing. He also provides the answer as to why John is more important to have on your list of customers than even the illustrious Vodaphone.
I am saddened when I see parts of salespeople’s PowerPoint presentations consist of slides with a large number of logos from well-known companies that use the salesperson's products or services. In England, these are usually Barclays, Vodafone, Tesco, Ernst & Young and the other big brands.
But these companies never bought anything. Naturally, a company cannot buy anything – everything is bought by a person. We might call him John. It is time we stop our pursuit of logos and focus on John.
John has faith in you and your product. He has taken a chance by bringing you into his business. And we return his confidence by reducing him to a logo. It is wrong.
Good customer relations are personal relations
Business is always about relationships. This is a generally accepted fact by now. Some might even argue that good customer relations can be more important than our product or service. Others will say that companies should do business with clients who share their values. I would definitely say that business is increasingly about personal customer relationships. It is about relationships between two people who trust each other, like each other and have common interests.
In my world, this means that business relationships should be more like private relationships. We have to like each other and offer each other more than just the exchange of products and services for money.
In my business, we work only for our contacts. We don’t really care about their companies. If John is our "friend", we work for him. It doesn’t matter whether he is working in commercial cleaning or IT. We follow him. If you have good customers which you can relate to, you will also want to share more than just business. This means that we can be honest with our customers.
I like to talk casually with my customers sometimes. They are nice, intelligent people, and we know each other. It provides a closer relationship and a better dialogue. It makes my job more fun and gives me more of an incentive to help them when something goes wrong. I find that it works both ways. And if customers don’t share this view, we will not work for them.
Loyalty over treachery
To us, business is personal, and we do not compromise on that. John deserves our loyalty. Therefore, it’s important that we don’t use John, just in order to get to his boss. Too often, I hear salespeople who want to bring their products to the executive board or the board of directors, because office furniture or waste separation is such a big, strategic decision. It needs to stop! We need to make John a success. Then his boss will also want to meet us. Of course, we are allowed to have several "friends" in the organisations we work with. That only makes the work better. But we must not be unfaithful to John.
Sales, therefore, is about making "business friends". People you wish the best for, and people for whom you will do everything in your power to make successful. I feel that the world is full of good, interesting people. They sit at many levels as our customers, and we will work with them whether they are the most recent of the customer’s employees or the owner, because we will do business with these people our whole life. At times, they are our customers, sometimes they are our suppliers, or maybe even employees.
Too many customer relationships?
At some point, many of us find that our LinkedIn contacts exceed a number where it is possible to stay in touch. There are too few hours in the day. We also have a family and close friends, and we have to do a triathlon or, at a minimum, run marathons. It is expected, isn’t it?
I like to have a systematic approach to my sales work. The way I choose to maintain my network is by making two calls per day from Monday to Thursday, and four on Fridays. This means roughly, I have 1,000 conversations each year. My contacts know that the calls are not about direct sales. I just need to hear how John is doing.
Because I keep in touch and prioritise good customer relations, I find that my business remains relevant to our customers and that they want to work with us. And because the people I talk to are people who mean something to me, it is the best part of my job.
You know you have the right customers when no names on your mobile display make you want to hide in the toilet, say you are in a meeting or just wish that the person on the other end of the line would go on a yoga journey and come back as a better and sweeter person.
The golden rule
In our company, we have a rule about customers: "We can never have a customer whom we would not want to have a beer with." It may not be the slickest or most politically correct phrasing, but we always keep it as a guideline whenever we can. We haven’t always succeeded in sticking to it, and sometimes we have had to terminate a collaboration with the customer. To us, that is what is important. And we are willing to lose money, in order to have the right customers – with the right John.
Many hours each day are spent working for our customers. Therefore, we must choose our customers correctly, so we can enjoy our time. While customers are probably not all called John, they all have a name, a face, a personality, and we must stay focused on that. We must have the courage to be personal when working with our clients. It pays off.
Keep track of your customer relationships with webCRM
webCRM does not just help you sell. It is also a perfect tool for taking care of your customer relations. Ensuring that you never forget to call one of the many Johns in your network. In webCRM, you can arrange your to-do list which might include making a “check-up” call. You can also create fields to record information about all your good customer relations. When you have had a good chat, you can write some keywords in the system, so that you remember to ask about a big, new project or other opportunities the next time you talk.