One of our customers recently received the suggestion that he change his email. Even his boss recommended that he change his email. Due to the company’s email address format, the combination of this sales rep’s first and last name resulted in sale@____.com. As a sales rep, this would have presented an awkward situation every time he emailed his customers (and may have positioned him for a few jokes). He ended up changing his email.
But his email address change points to something important about our customers—and how we create winning relationships with them. As a customer, I do not want to be another sale. I don’t want to be another few dollars in an effort to make your number. And I certainly don’t want to be reminded of that every time a sales rep sends me an email.
As a salesperson (other than making sure you have an appropriate email address) there are several things you can do to strengthen customer relationships. Here are a few things we do at Ecosystems to strengthen our customer relationships (beyond providing the day-to-day software and services):
Hold account reviews
We structure account reviews so customers know if their last investment in a product or solution is creating value for them. Is it creating the benefits they needed? What can we do to improve their value realization? Find out some other keys to account reviews here: Monty Python, the Romans, and Your Customer.
Talk to customers often
The people who purchase our program have put a lot of their personal and professional value on the line for us. We realize that and want to continually show the value that their value programs are creating. As a company, we devote time each Friday morning to understand the personal and professional goals of our customers and discuss how we are progressing.
Another way to share information with relevant stakeholders is by communicating their successes. When our customers have exciting successes, our visual storyteller develops the story into video and graphics. When making an entire video is not a realistic option, send your customer a quick note through LinkedIn.
Make ourselves available whenever our customers need us
. . . Even if that means answering a call at 5am. Here’s a picture of a sunrise—some of which we get to see, because we’re up early enough for business case revisions or calls with customers:
Work for free
This isn’t a normal occurrence, and we certainly don’t recommend it as a long-term business model. But when Ecosystems first began, we worked for months on one potential client’s various opportunities—without any signed contract or payment. We saw potential for a great long-term partnership in the future, so we were willing to do what it took to make sure the client knew with confidence that we would help them.
Working for free might sound crazy, but we did it. And ultimately, the customer signed with us.
Send a handwritten note
Every year, we send Thanksgiving cards. Some of these cards may never make it to their final destination because we end up with the wrong mailing address, or they get lost in transit across the ocean. But the point still remains: making the extra effort, even if it doesn’t work perfectly, stands out.
People don’t want to talk to an entity—they want to talk to YOU. Thankfully for most of us, that probably doesn’t require a new email address.
(We have a lot more to say on the topic. If you want to talk to us about it, send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.)