In sales meetings, Mr. Butler will ask his staff one simple question that sometimes will prove to be one of the most challenging questions that any client-side professional will ever face. That question has been a source of debate for professionals across multiple disciplines, from the boardroom down to the sales floor, to the call center, to the receptionist, and even to delivery drivers. That question is simply “What sets you apart from your competition?”
During the sales meeting, one employee would say “Great Customer Service!” To which Mr. Butler would reply “Lot’s of companies have great customer service”. Another employee says “Same Day Delivery!” Again, Mr. Butler would reply, “Lot’s of companies have that.” After a few more unsatisfactory responses, he rephrased the question. “What is it about us that will keep our customers from switching the next time a competitor walks into their office with a lower price on copy paper?” he asked. After listening to several answers, which did nothing to satisfy the actual question, Mr. Butler finally gave the answer. “Relationship!” he said in a very commanding voice.
This is what he preaches in his offices daily! “People buy from people they like!” is something that the staff of Butler Business Products hears in nearly every company meeting. Whether you are in sales, customer service, or a delivery driver, it is important to build lasting relationships in business. Not only the type of relationship that keeps a customer buying from you, but the type of relationship that gives your customers the confidence that no one can solve their problems but you and your company.
Truthfully, there will always be customers who refuse to commit to one supplier and prefer to shop around. You cannot control that so let them shop until they drop. For the rest of your clients, you should be the first and last phone call for any product or service that your company provides. If you are a temp service, then your customers should always call you first when there is a job vacancy. If you’re route driver for a beverage company, then you should be the first one notified if your customer is looking for someone to sponsor an in-store promotion. Regardless of your profession or industry, if you deal directly with the same customers on a regular basis, there is no excuse not to build a lasting relationship with them.
No one is suggesting that you have to invite your customers to your house for dinner. Rather, the suggestion is that you spend meaningful time in conversation with your clients. Learn things about them, and share some things about yourself. Send gifts to their office as a token of appreciation outside of the normal holiday card. It is important to do things for your customers that suggest that you not only appreciate doing business with them now, but you look forward to doing business with them in the future. A little bit of consideration today could pay huge dividends tomorrow. Think about what you could do to further build your existing relationships and even create new ones!