Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What Can You Talk About With Your Customers When You’re Not Selling To Them?


Don't know what to talk about?

This time, I'll share with you my comments and thoughts about a question made by a dear friend of mine from Mexico, who reads this blog regularly. (I also read his, by the way :-D

The question came in the following way:


Sometimes you need to keep track and follow up with your long-term prospects, but this entails two risks for you: 
a) That you become a constant harassment by despairing / boring / troubling them.

b) That they lose interest on what you’re offering along the way, or someone else contacts them with a similar solution (or maybe even the same product) while you’re away. 
These are the two extremes, true, but the challenge is usually how to find the midpoint. On the other hand, there is the issue of what can you use as subjects of your following up contacts: It is clear that if you always talk about your product, the prospect is going to feel "used" and you’ll surely miss the chance to do business... But again, you can’t become best pal with your customer. Again, the point is: how much is too much and how much is too little? 
And it’s also clear that congratulating him on his birthday, or sending a postcard for Christmas, by themselves, are totally inefficient.
What do you think about it? 



And the topic is quite an interesting one, and, in many cases, businesses haven’t fully understood what it means to "keep relevant conversations with their customers and prospects” before, during and after the purchase decision is made.

Where do we begin with?


The most obvious opportunities: Being polite doesn’t mean you’re not brave enough. 


On many occasions I have recommended you in this blog that we should all try to get to know our customers with the finest detail we possibly can, handling information that is relevant to our interests and which also allows us to discover additional ways to be of service, or even open up new business opportunities to develop.


There are small details that greatly enrich the relationship and get you much closer to your customers. 


A greeting card for a birthday, a wedding, a newborn, in the format of your choice, is always a warm gesture to effectively, genuinely approach and engage with your customers.

However, we only celebrate our birthday once per year, we have newborns less frequently and get married, God permits, once in a lifetime (or two, or three… you know what I mean), so these opportunities, by themselves, are insufficient to properly follow up with customers and prospects.


What other stuff can you talk about with customers and prospects, excluding your products? 



If you don’t want to turn your conversations with customers and prospects into boring information exchanges about your products and services, which happens all too often, why don’t you give a try to the following recommendations?

  • Add value to their business, not yours: include within your “conversation subjects”, themes that might be relevant to their industries, their businesses, or even their lives. It's okay if you don’t mention your brand, products and services. Not every conversation has to revolve around you. Dare to open the space to provide real, selfless and genuine value, focusing on providing solutions to real problems your customers are facing. 
  • Show them that you deeply know what you're talking about: You know you have a lot to say about your industry, you know you can offer true, valuable, honest opinions regarding topics of interest. Bring them to the table. Tips, suggestions and recommendations are always welcome in a world where relevant content is King. 
  • Become a reference point for your customers and prospects: Through the value and relevance of the topics you share, your company and yourself become the point your customers want to go to when they need information about industry issues, and you definitely want it to be this way.

How much is enough and when it’s just too little? 



Actually, this is really a total challenge for all of us and a quite complicated one: How can you figure out when you stop being an interesting source for your customers and prospects and simply become an annoying visitor in their mailbox or even on the phone?

Think of it as when you’re drinking whiskey:  You never drink the whole bottle at once. You go little by little. Step by step. Sipping slowly, sip by sip, usually in small vessels. Tasting it, smelling it, enjoying it.


Make your conversations like drinking good whiskey: Let your customers find it so yummy and relevant that they prefer to taste it, instead of wasting it. 


Knowing who your audience is and being close to them will help you find the proper balance.

The decision of how much is too much or too little, will vary according to each case, depending on the relevance of the information you share and generate, and depending on how often you may have access to fresh information. You just have to find the balance that works for you.

If you pay attention to these simple steps, you can follow up with your customers and prospects maintaining relevant conversations for a long time, developing with them strong and long-lasting relationships, and you will have earned a guaranteed place in their minds, when the time for making the purchase decision comes around.



I also recommend you to read the following posts on this blog
Social Networks: From Conversations To A Brand New Sale In 6 Simple Steps. 
Who Follows Who In Social Media?



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