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Customer Loyalty: Starring the Sales Team Peggy Carlaw

Marquee Customer Loyalty: Starring the Sales TeamWhen think­ing about who in the orga­ni­za­tion has the biggest role in cre­at­ing loyal cus­tomers, we typ­i­cally think of the after-sale ser­vice and sup­port teams. But the sales team has a crit­i­cal role to play as well.

In fact, recent research shows that of four dri­vers of cus­tomer loy­alty (com­pany and brand impact, prod­uct and ser­vice deliv­ery, value-to-price ratio, and sales expe­ri­ence), 53% is related to the sales experience.

What are some of the key com­po­nents of the sales expe­ri­ence that will drive cus­tomer loyalty?

The sales rep offers unique, valu­able per­spec­tives on the market

Your sales team needs to be well versed in your tar­geted indus­tries, not just in your prod­uct line, if they’re to cre­ate loyal cus­tomers. Ideas to help them get there? Start a book club: Sub­scribe to indus­try jour­nals, assign per­ti­nent arti­cles, and dis­cuss. Hold a brown bag lunch and invite cus­tomers in to talk about indus­try trends. Send a rep to an indus­try trade show and have that edu­cate the rest of the team.

The sales rep helps nav­i­gate alternatives

In order to help cus­tomers nav­i­gate alter­na­tives, sales reps need to know how to uncover cus­tomers’ unique prob­lems and needs. Reps need to thor­oughly under­stand what each cus­tomer wants to fix, accom­plish, or avoid, so that they can rec­om­mend appro­pri­ate solu­tions and present the pros and cons of each alter­na­tive. In-depth sales train­ing pro­vides reps with the tools they need to uncover the customer’s issues and help the cus­tomer nav­i­gate alter­na­tive solutions.

The sales rep helps avoid poten­tial land mines

Employee reten­tion is key here. Sales reps with tenure can help cus­tomers nav­i­gate poten­tial land mines because they’ve seen other cus­tomers weather sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions. Pay­ing a com­pet­i­tive salary, pro­vid­ing pos­i­tive coach­ing and sup­port, and rec­og­niz­ing achievements—both small and large—will all go a long way toward retain­ing sales reps over the long term.

The sales rep edu­cates on new issues and outcomes

Loyal cus­tomers look to their sales rep for new infor­ma­tion, either on indus­try issues or on prod­ucts and ser­vices that will improve their busi­ness. Make it easy for your sales team to keep cus­tomers up to date. Cre­ate email tem­plates and attach­ments that reps can eas­ily cus­tomize for each cus­tomer. Cre­ate peri­odic webi­nars that your sales team can invite cus­tomer to for con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion. Cre­ate pod­casts with cus­tomers who are solv­ing com­mon prob­lems in unique ways. Part­ner with your mar­ket­ing depart­ment to help cre­ate addi­tional ideas on how to con­tin­u­ally reach out to cus­tomers with new, per­ti­nent information.

The sup­plier is easy to buy from

Some com­pa­nies are start­ing to mea­sure cus­tomer effort—how easy or dif­fi­cult it is to do busi­ness with the com­pany. Think about it. Loyal cus­tomers are repeat cus­tomers. How likely are you to be a repeat cus­tomer if you have to wade through an impos­si­ble phone tree only to be cut off, if the sales rep doesn’t return your call, if emails aren’t answered promptly, if quotes are incom­plete or inac­cu­rate, if billing is incor­rect? The eas­ier it is to buy, the more likely cus­tomers are to buy again.

The sup­plier has wide­spread sup­port across the organization

Depend­ing on what you sell, after-sale ser­vice and sup­port may be more impor­tant than the prod­uct itself. After all, what good is a highly tech­ni­cal piece of diag­nos­tic or pro­duc­tion equip­ment if you can’t receive timely repair when there is a tech­ni­cal issue or defect? In order to build loy­alty, it’s impor­tant that the sales team pro­vide a proper hand-off to ser­vice and sup­port so that the cus­tomer feels secure in know­ing that any post-sale issues will be addressed in a timely fashion.

April is cus­tomer loy­alty month. Use these tips to engage your sales team in the process of cre­at­ing loyal cus­tomers. Your com­pany will ben­e­fit, and so will your sales team as they enjoy repeat busi­ness and refer­rals from happy, sat­is­fied customers.

 

Peggy Car­law is the founder of Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems, a lead­ing train­ing com­pany spe­cial­iz­ing in improv­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions between front-line employ­ees and cus­tomers. Peggy is co-author of sev­eral books pub­lished by McGraw-Hill, includ­ing Man­ag­ing and Moti­vat­ing Con­tact Cen­ter Employ­ees and The Big Book of Cus­tomer Ser­vice Train­ing Games.
3 Customer Loyalty: Starring the Sales Team
Peggy Carlaw
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