Wednesday, 20 February 2013

How to turn a customer into a relationship?

This blog focuses on those who do a job like that of an insurance agent or sales executive. But ideas discussed may be as good to all others who find similarity of work.

·      Preparing a primary contact list is the first task. Prepare a list of all your friends, well wishers and relatives. Let it be as long as it can be. Just note down their names, address, phone number and email ids.

·      Connect your product with them. Do they really need it? The question is not ‘will they buy it?’ the question is ‘do they need it?’

·      Prepare a shorter list of all ‘yes’. They may not be planning to buy your product, but you think that they really need it.

·      Divide the list into segments. You may not be able to meet them all at once. Slow and steady is the best policy.

·      Invite them to a meeting at home or office. A business meeting at the office premise is fine. But a gathering such as the annual day of the company, founder’s day, birthday party, wedding anniversary celebration etc. are better.

·      Don’t you prefer such a meeting? It is fine. Meet them in person at their home. Remember meeting at office is not a good idea. It does not build relationships.

·      Make a little research on the people in the short list for personal meeting. What is he doing? Where is he working? When will he leave for his work place? When will he come back? Does he has a habit of going out in the evenings? His family? Income status? Age? His immediate need? etc. Collect as much information as you can.

·      Remember each person is a separate entity. Needs are different. Life style is different. Financial and family background is different. So decide to treat each one accordingly. Do not apply same procedure to all.

·      Contact them via telephone. Maintain all etiquette over the phone. Express your intention of discussing the matter. Do not hide the business you are involved in. Your intention is a discussion not a sale. Do not go on to a prolonged discussion over the phone. You will fail. Even if the person expresses his disinterestedness, close the phone call leaving an open opportunity for some other occasion. Remember, you have just started to build a relationship. You are not creating customers.

·      He is ready to meet you at home. Fix the time at his leisure. Be ready with more than one time; but do not propose a time to him unless he is open for any evening. We are meeting him as he has agreed. The meeting is not forced on him. We proposed, he agreed.

·      Meet him on the time. Not much earlier, not late at all. If something happens unexpectedly that delays your arrival at his home, call him before the appointed time and take an excuse.

·      Do not go straight into business. Be at ease. Let him too feel comfortable. We are not there to sell a product; but to build a relationship. Ask about his family; but do not poke your nose. Be a good listener. Let him talk about his work, family, children, future, immediate needs, long needs etc.

·      As the talk goes, you may offer your help, but do not insist. You may offer to introduce a product, a place or a friend who can be helpful to him.

·      Do not be in a hurry; but you certainly have other meetings too. Even if the whole evening is free for him, it is not free for you.

·      His talk reveals his needs and wishes. It is you first stepping stone. Understand his immediate need and his long term needs. Present your products accordingly. Immediate needs will attract immediate cures.

·      Do not pose like a seller. You are only proposing a solution to his needs. Your proposal must look like a timely blessing. Do not try to sell shoes among people who have no legs. Do not talk about an insurance policy which has a maturity period of 20 years to middle aged man of above 55. It will look like a farce.

·      Sellers create only customers. Relationships are built for mutual help. Discuss, analyze, think together and come to a conclusion. Your new relative must have an active part in all these procedure.  Do not decide for him. Help him come to a decision. Be a helper not a seller.

·      Could not finalize in a single meeting? Do not worry. Happily leave the decision for another day. Let him think over. It gives us also more time to propose a better product.

·      Days after the deal are more important than the sale day. Maintain the relationship. Remember all information you collected about him and his family. Drop in for a causal visit. Make an occasional phone call. If sick, visit them. Offer assistance occasionally. Do not talk always about the products you sold to them or about other products you are crazy to sell.

·      Grow in the relationship.  Become an integral part of their family. Next time when they prepare a list of invitees for a special family occasion, your name should be one among the top 10s.

Further reading:

Professor Jacob Abraham

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