Building Customers for Life
This guest blog was contributed by Craig Faczan.
I’m often asked what the most important thing a sales and marketing person should know to be successful in the toner business. Well, we certainly know it isn’t price. (HP and Lexmark raised prices on cartridges for the third time in three years – this time as high as 15 percent on legacy cartridges.) Offering a low-cost product will not retain your customers. You have to be able to offer something more.
You have to believe in your company and the products and services you are offering, and you have to be willing to work hard. Always remember, the sale is not about you. It’s about customers and what you can do for them. In addition, your offerings must be compelling and impact your customer in a positive manner, whether it is through lowering costs, easing transactions, streamlining processes and vendors or simply making it more enjoyable to do business with you. You also need to know as much about what you do and how it can help your customer as much as possible. Remember the old adage “Knowledge is king.”
All of the above will help you be successful, but over the past 16 years as a sales and marketing guy, I’ve realized the most important reason people stay with a vendor is trust. When you make a cold call, you are a stranger. The person in front of you or on the other line has no idea who you are, but once that trust is established, it retains clients when something goes wrong. Trust is what keeps your customers from switching.
So how do you build trust from the start? First of all, you need to have a compelling message, a solid offering and be able to convey it quickly and clearly. That includes a professional website and an arsenal of PDFs to support any possible objection a prospect may have. Your legitimacy and “story” need to be more compelling than the incumbent vendor, and you have to prove that within the first 30 seconds. In addition, you need to be different, unique and catchy. The book “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin is one of my favorites and can help you stand out in a crowd. Brown, black and white cows are boring, but a purple cow is memorable – so be one!
Building trust long term takes time. You need to do what you say and say what you do. Back up your claims and always give what I call “insanely great customer service,” which I learned from Steve Jobs; it’s his sixth Principle of Success. Nearly 70 percent of customers will leave their vendors without ever telling them why, but if you have built trust, hopefully, your customers will trust that you will take care of them better than any other vendor. When you take care of your customers like no one else has, they don’t leave. They tell you when competitors are knocking on the door, and they tell you when things go wrong so you can fix them. When your customers know and trust that you are there no matter what, you have a customer for life.
Here are some simple ideas on how you can build trust and rapport with your prospects and clients:
- Referral programs: I give as much as $100 cash for referrals who buy.
- Testimonials/letters of recommendation: Get quotes from recognizable accounts.
- Case studies: This is always kryptonite to the wary buyer and one of my favorites.
- Knowledge: If you know more than your customers, they need you, so be sharp!
With trust, you are in the driver’s seat. It’s as simple as doing what you say and saying what you do. So get to work, and go earn some trust!
Craig can be contacted at Craig@IImageInc.com.
Craig Faczan is a 16-year veteran of the imaging industry and has held executive positions in the toner, consumer electronic and environmental fields. He specializes in sales, marketing, training, branding and business development. He is currently the director of sales and marketing for Integrated Image, Inc – one of California’s fastest-growing companies.
Posted by Craig Faczan on Jan 24, 2012