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Lasday: Sell Now - And Later

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  • | 6:00 p.m. July 17, 2006
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Sell Now - And Later

Lou Lasday

Few professional service enterprises truly invest the effort to build lasting post-buy relationships with individual customers because that approach differs entirely from their current practices. More importantly, they rationalize that the time, effort and discipline in planning and execution of relationship building after the initial sale is not a cost-efficient reality.

Are they maxed out?

Here's what they say: The top performing president's club Realtor laments, "it took me a full year to sell them that $2-million condo on the Keys. They certainly won't buy another for quite a while." The community banker says, "We just landed that corporation's major borrowing and cash management account, so we really already have their most profitable business." Even the prominent Gulf Coast attorney with his name on the building says, "We have his trust accounts, his tax planning, partnership and contract work. We maxed him out."

And yet, corporate clients expand, downsize, refocus and merge. That's a tremendous opportunity for solid referral and new business. Individual clients move, graduate, save, invest, plan and have changing lifestyles; also, a tremendous opportunity for solid referral and new business. Entrepreneurs buy, sell, contract, borrow, travel and entertain. Again, tremendous opportunity for solid referral and new business.

Buying a menu

Their erroneous belief is that because they are purveyors of professional services, rather than hard core products, they have fulfilled their customized sales potential. There in fact lies a dangerous assumption. That is the myth that they are selling preconceived professional wares as a laundry list. Do you really want to sell quasi products, instead of tailoring your solutions to meet, educate and lead the customer's on-going changing need and life changes? The result is pushing only the features of your solutions "packages" rather than offering benefits that customers continually want, need, and for which they will often pay a premium. You should not be concerned that your incoming communication will be regarded as a hard core after-the-fact blatant solicitation. Indeed, it's just the opposite. Your continuing post-buy contact will be welcomed and regarded as warm, sincere, old-fashioned concern.

Additionally, service businesses rarely make a serious effort to communicate to prospective customers all the ongoing economic, technical, service and social benefits they provide on a continuing basis. Most sellers simply assume that buyers grasp the total life value of products and service from the initial encounter. It's actually a false assumption. Buyers don't keep track of all the products and services they get. Also, they cannot quantify the value of benefits. So, here's the big customer retention myth: Retaining customers in business markets isn't just about keeping them in the fold. You must also develop relationships with customers and grow their ongoing need.

Find their need

If you truly are seeking a state-of-the-art customer relationship management system, you must focus entirely on the needs-based interaction with customers. You must understand and devise solutions to their ongoing and changing life patterns. This implied "living" with the customer is certainly not an "in your face" effort but rather a personalized level of continuing permission-based contact. Now, how do you do it? Consider sending a quarterly pertinent newsletter. Create a seminar. Write a personal note. Send a Thanksgiving card. Announce a future appearance. Mail a business article reprint with a "thought you'd be interested memo." Send a fax or e-mail. Hold a reception with an outside guest speaker. Give an executive premium. Make a personal call.

Your customers want to champion your service. By maintaining appropriate communications, you'll benefit from their on-going good will and continued direct business, their referrals, their future need and their loyalty. Remember please that marketing does not end with the sale. That's where it actually begins. The successful consummation of the transaction itself gives your future marketing effort your customer's invitation to blossom.

Lou Lasday, an independent marketing advisor residing on Longboat Key, creates strategic marketing initiatives for Gulf Coast emerging companies. A career direct response executive, he has been a general partner of a major national marketing communications firm and regional president of the American Marketing Association. Mr. Lasday can be reached at [email protected].

Try This

Your customers want to champion your service.

• Consider sending a quarterly pertinent newsletter.

• Write a personal note.

• Send a Thanksgiving card.

• Mail a business article reprint with a "thought you'd be interested memo."

• Hold a reception with an outside guest speaker.


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