Relationship marketing works particularly well for complex sales, solutions, and professional services because:
You don’t have to be a salesperson to have a successful customer contact. But it does help to plan ahead and think things through. Being helpful and solving problems for people often results in them wanting to do business with you. Building lasting customer relationships enable us to:
- People prefer to buy from other people they feel comfortable with, and only buy from strangers as a last resort.
- Building your marketing strategy around relationships focuses your efforts on getting to know people who are potential customers.
Pursuing good customer relationships through frequent and well-timed customer contacts helps to improve your competitive position as well as your win rate. Here are some ways to gain customer appreciation and build relationships:
- Gain insight into and to understand customer wants and needs
- Shape their expectations
- Influence their requirements
- Help the customer see the benefits, features, and advantages of acquiring our solutions and capabilities
Knowing the details of what the customer goes through to make purchases may have a significant impact on the success of your business pursuit. Understanding who the actual proponents of the proposed program are could make your customer contact efforts efficient and cost-effective. Studying the funding source might allow you to uncover follow-on opportunities or the potential for transitioning a one-year contract into a multi-year procurement.
- Listen, Listen, Listen. If you’re too intent on selling your company, your product or yourself, you may not hear what your customer has to say.
- Make inquiries in an interested and inquisitive way demonstrating that you’re focused on helping them to achieve their objectives and to get what they are truly looking to acquire.
- Not all customer wants and needs become readily apparent early in a relationship. Take the time to uncover their real “Hot Buttons”, or the things that keep them awake at night.
- During customer interactions, always present yourself or your team as well-informed and educated on the topic being discussed. By doing this, you’ll increase the chances that the customer will view you as having placed their needs at the top of your “To Do” list.
- Extend your undrestanding of the customer and their requirements into as much detail as possible.
By interfacing with the customer early and often in the pursuit of business, we can support the customer in building a long-term answer to their needs. We can improve our competitive position along the way by learning more about what they really want and by convincing them that we’re working on their behalf.
Customer contacts support the pursuit with the gathering, analysis, and comparison of data and information about the opportunity being pursued. The results, findings, and conclusions formed by the Capture Team can often improve your competitive position, win a competition, and even position you well for another pursuit of business.
Our approach to customer contacts provides guidance for:
- Before the contact, with an emphasis on going into a contact prepared to get the most out of it
- During the contact, with advice and strategies for the contact itself
- After the contact, where follow-ups and long-term relationship building occur.
When supported by tools and the right strategies, a customer contact becomes part of an overall pursuit. When you have a successful customer relationship, your contacts with your customer will be more fruitful, help you position your company better, and ultimately lead to winning more business.
This article was contributed by Robert Kelly, one of our consulting partners who can help you capture government business. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 703-338-7627