Customers as Partners – Building Relationships That Last
by Chip R Bell
Customer partnership is first an attitude! It is an orientation that starts with a deep and assertively demonstrated respect for the customer…
— Chip Bell
Remember a time when you got the ‘run around’ from a customer service rep, or a sales clerk, or even a person from the billing department when you were trying to pay your bill.
We have ALL been there. And most of us, if we are honest, are frustrated to be treated so disrespectfully.
But have you thought about the long term benefits of treating customers with respect? Well, if you sell products, you know that satisfied customers keeps coming back. Is that because you have a wonderful and unique product? Maybe, but I’ll bet it has more to do with the way you treated this customer than what they bought.
Have you ever considered that before?
Stay tuned as we share more of Chips tips to treating customers as partners…
Customer satisfaction is no guarantee of customer retention. We can all remember times we switched vendors … simply because we found someone else to provide that service who was a bit more convenient, more responsive, less expensive or just different.
— Chip Bell
Customers leave due to lots of different circumstances, just like what Chip describes above. Maybe we were satisfied, but we certainly weren’t dazzled!
Chip goes on the describe the perfect long term relationship as a partnership.
I found this to be very true for me while sales repping. Those vendors who dazzled me with their care and concern would cause me to go the extra mile for them.
Some of the ways good partnerships are described by Chip:
- Anchored in an attitude of generosity
- Grounded in trust and honesty
- Bolstered by a joint purpose
- Based on balance
- Grounded in grace
Do you see those traits in your best relationships and partnerships?
Powerful partnerships start with an attitude of abundance or generosity. Partners don’t keep score!
— Chip Bell
Partners work together and do not try to compete with each other.
Back to my sales repping days …. most of the vendors I worked with treated me like a partner. We both worked together to give the best customer service possible to our mutual store customers. I even had one card vendor who took my suggested re-order of cards, call the individual store buyer, and complete the order. And they paid me 20% commission — which was higher than most companies paid me! They valued my service, and of course, I worked even harder for them.
On the other hand, some vendors I repped for acted as though I was stealing their sales when I sold products to their past store buyers (some of these buyers may not have ordered from them in years — that is until I visited them). Being treated so poorly did not last long, as I often severed my relationship with them real fast.
So how about you? Do you treat your customers and sales reps as partners?
Great partnerships are based on a sense of trust that leaves partners feeling confident.
— Chip Bell
I don’t think there is a greater compliment than to have your customers trust you!
Trust comes from a history of reliability, assurance, and faith. In other words, you say what you do and you do what you say when it comes to dealing with ALL your customers.
Back to my sales rep days, I had many store buyers that would just tell me to write up an order for what they needed and they would sign off on it. Boy, that was trust (of course, they DID look over the orders).
Of course, you can recreate this scenario with any repeat customer your company deals with regularly. Building this kind of trust goes a very long way in building profitability in your business!
Effective partnerships enjoy shared visions or aims.
— Chip Bell
I love this tip!
Can you think of a time when you shared a vision or aim with a customer or store buyer? Of course, store buyers want to make money — just like you — but what about sharing a vision or aim with them?
I regularly ask my store buyers what products their customers are asking for. When I hear about a certain product over and over again, I made a point to find a company that makes this product to see if I could work out a deal to rep for them. Even if I could not convince the company to let me rep for them, I often went back to the buyer and let them know where they could find this particular product.
At that point, my desire to share a vision or aim with my store buyer partners was more important in the long run than one or two sales.
Do you see how this tip alone can increase sales with your store partners?
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