Surfing the papers the other night, my intrigue was piqued by an article entitled 10 tips to improve your friendships. When discovering it was about female bonding, I did click away, but not before it got me thinking about how account-managing solution sellers achieve the friendly status with their clients that they yearn for.
One of my projects once emerged from my then customer’s wish to do a survey across his 150 customers. When delving deeper, it was clear that he feared not being as close to them as he should be. Although I did conduct a kind of telephone study for him, it was quickly evident that his money and my time was better spent on creating an activity schedule to follow. A kind of post-sign-up-sales-service process.
It was a fascinating exercise. For a start, unlike many Sales Ops style projects, it had self-evident measurables against which to judge success (most notably attrition rates and re-order levels). Then the main finding was that an event plan and relevant document logs were essential. Previously, the former had been sporadic and scattergun, the latter rarely done and if it was, could hardly be termed ‘customer-centric’.
A universally prescriptive list of tips is naturally fraught with possible inapplicabilities. But let’s give one a go anyway. This could be so exhaustive it’s scary, so for now here are just five starter actions that my experience suggests can help nurture such business relationships:
- Involve clients in product/service development
- Regularly review their Business Objectives
- Send on articles/experiences tied-in with their plans
- Track your supply’s usage; keep & share detailed records
- Introductions to people like themselves (similar plans/issues)
I’m sure you can think of several more.