Lew Young, former Editor in Chief of Business Week, said that “the most important management fundamental that is being ignored today is staying close to the customer to satisfy his needs and anticipate his wants.” You can learn a lot about direct sales success by heeding these words of business wisdom.
What Mr. Young was referring to is what we commonly call personalized customer service. When you practice personal customer service, and you do it well, you begin to understand your customer. You begin to anticipate her wants and desires. You begin to satisfy her needs before she even voices them.
For example, let’s say you have a customer who has shopped with you several times over the past months, but never buys much. Her family is on a tight budget, but she loves your products. Because you know she’s a fan, and you know that she struggles financially, you could treat her one of two ways.
First, you could basically ignore her, rationalizing that she can’t afford to buy. A lot of direct sales reps will do this by not offering her a catalog or never phoning her to book a party.
On the other hand, you can use her love for your company products and her need for added income to present your business opportunity to her. If she isn’t interested in the full-fledged opportunity, or maybe can’t afford that, you can offer her a sub-seller agreement where she would get a discount on her personal sales for any orders she gets from friends and family. If she accepts, you increase your sales while giving your customer the opportunity for free or discounted product. A win-win situation.
If she is truly not interested in selling anything, you can–at the very least–track the specific products your customer likes and notify her whenever any of them go on sale. Or you can offer her a 10% discount for every referral she sends your way who places an order.
While this does require some added effort on your part, this simple act could pay off tremendously in customer loyalty. When the day arrives that your customer can afford to buy more product (and it most likely will), there’s no way she’d ever desert “her” consultant who has been so good to help her buy what she wants at the best price.
There are a few simple ways to offer your customer quality care while anticipating her possible needs:
• As mentioned, keep track of the products she likes and let her know whenever they go on sale. She’ll appreciate the heads-up even if she can’t buy that time around.
• Let her know of any complementary products that work with something she’s already bought. For instance, if she purchased a cologne spray, let her know about the matching powder or body wash.
• Make it a habit to say, “I’ll see what I can do,” rather than, “No, we don’t offer that.” Even if you have to go back later and tell your customer you can’t offer what she wanted, she’ll see that you at least tried and that you were concerned about her needs.
• ALWAYS, Always, always treat your customer with the utmost respect. (Did we mention always?) Never “bite her head off” or offer a quick retort when you get angry. Never insult her or treat her rudely. While you may think it doesn’t matter if you lose that one customer because of your attitude, keep in mind that she has friends and family members who will certainly hear how she was treated–good or bad. Live by the adage that the customer is always right and even when she isn’t, she’ll know that at least you are trying to please her.