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best customersIn sales we always talk about the importance of getting close to our customers.

We love to brag about how tight we are with a buyer and how the tight relationship benefits us and keeps out the competition.

Yes, it all sounds good.

There aren’t too many people who would argue with that premise. We all want to improve a customer relationship, right?   Problem is I firmly believe there are many more times than we realize when the strong relationship costs us money.

Let me explain, however, to prevent many of you from blasting verbal insults at me for what I’m about to say.

As you read this, I’m not advocating we should not have strong relationships with customers.  No, what I’m saying is we need to be careful that we don’t lose focus of our job all because of the relationship.

Having a strong relationship with a customer offers up a number of advantages, many of which translate to the bottom line, but there are two items we always have to be careful to control.

First is complacency.

Based off the strength of the relationship, it can become easy to make assumptions about the customer.  We begin to believe we can think for them and thus don’t have a need to ask them.  What happens is we wind up getting off track with the customer and before we know it, they’re offering up opporutnities to competitors, all because we weren’t as focused as should have been.

Second is we come to believe the relationship is so valuable that we wind up offering them things or doing things for them that really start to cut into profit.

We do things out of a sense of respect for the customer. What happens is we wind up providing them things for free that we would normally charge for.   For some reason, we believe the customer is entitled to the service at no cost because they’re such a good customer and we have a great relationship.

This issue when left unchecked can wind up costing us dearly because it does nothing but cascade out of control to the point where price increases are treated differently.

Relationships are key to sales. No doubt about the impact they can have on helping us be successful.   However, we have to keep in mind that too much of anything can turn into a bad thing.

Copyright 2014, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.

 

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