As salespeople, our relationships with our customers can be a little like our relationships with our romantic partners. Sometimes things are great. Sometimes not.
That’s hard because most of us in sales have an innate need to be liked. If we didn’t, we probably wouldn’t have the motivation to be charming and appealing, right?
An article in Lifehacker about repairing romantic relationships after a fight is instructive. No, you don’t have to worry about sleeping on the couch, but still, you do want to get your relationship with your customer back on track.
Here are some key pointers from the Lifehacker piece that apply to salespeople having trouble with their customers:
Don’t Drag It Out With Your Customer
Ever have a customer that went from being happy to see you to barely having time for your phone calls? What was your approach — ignore it and hope for a change in mood someday? That didn’t work out so well, I’d guess.
Instead, be direct. Ask if there’s something that’s bothering them that would be helpful to discuss. But remember that the customer is always right and be prepared to apologize. Of course, you’ll want to be as sincere as possible. Everybody picks up on false apologies, so they’re not helpful.
Give The Customer Space
On the other hand, there are limits on what you can do. Pushing too hard to make everything nice again can be counterproductive. And sometimes, customers are experiencing stresses in other parts of their lives that are out of your control. It’s easier to be hard on you than, say, an actual spouse who’s causing a lot of grief.
While you give the unhappy customer room, try to develop relationships with others at the company. You’ll want to maintain the relationship you have with the business by building credibility with others working there.
If your relationship with a customer is on the rocks, chances are that not a lot of business is getting done between you. That doesn’t mean you have to fade into the woodwork. You can continue to provide useful information to maintain a connection. Take a look at what we said earlier about staying in touch with prospects with relevant and useful updates, blogs, company news and the like. Use an app, like Spiro, that helps make staying in touch a breeze!
Be Extra Nice!
Sales professionals are considerate; it goes with the territory. But be extra kind now and show genuine interest in them. If you know they’re obsessed with, say, bicycling and you come across information about a new bike tour or product they might like, share it. You’ll have to balance this, of course, with the need to give space.
All of this takes a lot of judgment calls on your part. There are no easy formulas to follow. And unlike the final piece of advice from Lifehacker, you’re not going to be able to suggest that the two of you visit a therapist to work out your issues!
That’s okay. Just be a real person who shows sensitivity and concern for your customer. That’s the best path for getting back to a productive and healthy relationship.