Archive for March, 2015

Small Businesses Need To Utilize Their Best Advantage, Personal Relationships

March 29, 2015

Most small businesses grow through their personal relationships.

Despite being closer to their customers/clients small businesses often fail to use this advantage effectively.

At the same time and unhappily, more and more in the Internet age they are sacrificing their ability to apply the personal touch.

Everyone agrees it is critical to be on the web, have social media contact, market effectively online, and devote resources to all things electronic.

However, it is equally as important to maintain an individual relationship with current and potential customers/clients.

A small business can easily identify if it is truly touching its audience by asking three simple questions.

  1. When was the last time a staff member orally spoke with a current/potential purchaser?
  2. When was the last time a current/potential customer was asked his or her needs?
  3. When was a problem brought to the company’s attention and resolved personally?

Let’s discuss each of these questions individually.

People still like to talk to someone: Much of today’s businesses (B2B, consumer) is transacted on the Internet.  But the Internet is really a barrier to true communication because it prevents direct interaction and those interactions skew negative without tone and body language. A sales pitch can be made over the Internet but if the customer says “no” the only recourse is another online exchange.

There is a sales adage: “The sale begins when the customer says no.” Personal interaction elicits the reasons for declining and allows these objections to be overcome. An existing customer has already proven his or her interest in the company’s offering. Talking with them can lead to additional sale, maintaining the relationship, or a word of mouth endorsement.

People always have needs but are seldom asked what they are: A call asking them simple questions such as: How do you like our product or service? What does it not provide for you? What other needs are not being fulfilled? All can reinforce the relationship and provide valuable feedback. The key reason for doing this exercise is reinforce the personal side of doing business. Smaller companies can implement this process better than larger counterparts given their finite customer list and ability to deploy staff members who have already dealt with customers, in many cases.  Regardless of your business size, test with a few familiar customers first and then work your way from your largest to smallest customers.

Small businesses have more flexibility in solving problems: People hate hearing their problems need to be resolved by higher authorities. Often small businesses solve problems on the spot because of shorter management levels: Making the customer happier by quickly addressing issues whether it is in their favor or not usually means they remain loyal. Problems should be looked on as opportunities to interact with a disgruntled purchaser. Verbal communications often surfaces other issues and sometimes gems of knowledge.

The Internet is an important media but so is oral communication. Don’t lose touch with the customer. They are the lifeblood of the company.  Get in touch with your current customers today.