Beware of Salesmen, Be-with Relationship Builders

Customer was, is, and will be the King!

This is my first blog here, and I intend it to be the last one relating to the topic that I am about to discuss. To begin with, have you ever come across these titles while crawling through a search engine looking for articles to find new ways to appease customers and build long-lasting relationships?

n-Tips to build great customer relationships
Do customer relationships affect sales?

I will be a little disappointed if you say ‘No’. For any customer-fearing salesman will not think twice before devouring every piece of knowledge these so-called informative posts have to provide. But they miss out on the crème de la crème information that can help them knit their marketing story together and put up an ebullient sales strategy. I am here not to tell you what you already know about sales but how to get the best out of it.

If you are an entrepreneur stuck in the maze of finding new customers or an owner of a leading firm trying to build a successful empire, you know that converting leads to customers takes application of all sorts of push and pull marketing strategies. It doesn’t matter even if you convert all leads to customers, what matters more is the process you follow to reach there. Let’s take a dive into why I started out to write this blog in the first place:

All about the Customer, Nothing about You!

I began my career in writing three years ago as a naïve content writer and started freelancing with individual academic writers and (small & medium) privately held firms to create tons of mass-produced SEO content that populated the entire web industry. Over the years, I learnt the tricks of the trade and started writing for other verticals such as academic, technical, Ghost and a plentiful more. What did I learn?

You have a prospect:

In the first year, I learnt you are responsible for all — from tracking the right lead (marketing), bidding the right price (sales) and getting the right client (support). In my first successful bid on Elance (now Upwork), I quoted an additional sum of $75 to proofread a 4-page technical dissertation that I had written for $200. There was a definite pause in her reply which, as it turns out, never came back. And I lost a lucrative opportunity just because of a push that I possibly couldn’t pull.

Lesson Learnt: Don’t overplay your hand while pitching your customer. You will always be at the receiving end of it.

You have a client:

In the second year, I got two clients with whom I was collaborating on an everyday basis on Skype. One day, midway through a SEO content project, the client mailed (not skyped) me that I was urgently required to do two articles at 4 A.M (Yes, the client wasn’t from India). I read the message and went back to sleep. (I forgot to Reply) Next morning, there was one less client on my list. I realized that the tables start to turn when you start working with a client on a long-term basis i.e. all you are responsible for is the client.

Lesson Learnt: Keep a single medium of communication and don’t shy away from acknowledging client messages (even if you don’t know the solution to their problem)

You have no client:

There came a time in the third year that I was so involved with my family affairs that I missed deadlines and managed to lose all my clients. My reputation that I had built over the course of 3 years was on line. And then it struck me. The best way to get back on the saddle was to start marketing my methods and I started a small blog. I started putting different content marketing theories to test and Voila! , I got a customer who showed interest in my writing style and just like that, with not a single dime spent, I had generated a lead.

Pro Tip: The best way I learnt how to market came from this blog right here:

Lesson Learnt: Don’t stop playing the game if there is no audience to entertain. Start marketing your ideas and thoughts to attract more customers and get growing.

All about Me, Nothing about Customers!

I consider every event, however opportune or otherwise, is a precursor to even bigger and more organized events. And I think it works splendidly if you have a DIY approach towards your work. You tend to evaluate yourself more thoroughly and keep growing in the direction you want to.

Don’t think I started philosophizing just because 3 years of freelancing gives you the right to. As my blog started getting more hits, I decided to try my hand at marketing cum sales and joined Orgzit, a SaaS startup working its way up the ladder of product success. What did I learn?

Just Like Your Sales Pipeline, Building A Great Customer Relationship Is Your Sales Lifeline

After a month of proactive hand-holding, I was finally aligned with company’s vision — enhance workplace productivity and make work more meaningful and satisfying. Straight enough right? So one day, I took work to Starbucks and struck up a conversation with a couple who were running a school for the Blind. They had almost 700 students and received about 50 new applications every day. I stressed the importance of their work and wished them good luck after giving them a brief yet meaningful glimpse into our product. 2 months later, I received a call back from asking for a CRM solution. For the first time in my life, I tasted tears of joy!

Lesson Learnt: Cold-calling and inbound marketing will take you near a potential client. To turn him/her into a permanent one, you will need to empathize.

Trouble in Customer Land? Leave Your Chores & Get On Top Of It Right Now

I had a flashback when one of the Orgzit’s customers came online somewhere around 3 A.M. and wanted to tell him how to create a project. But I had drafted a bunch of e-mails for this very purpose and replied back apologizing for not being able to help and redirected him to the Orgzit’s support pages. Luckily enough, I still had that customer there on my mail list tomorrow.

Lesson Learnt: I guess you already know this one.

Email Marketing Works Well Till You Get Out Of the Shoe-String Budget

I am not a big fan of being stuck in the loophole of sending a million promotional mails to prospective clients without whatsoever intent of getting back a reply. So instead of just mailing them, I did a little recon of their particular work industry and drafted a personalized second mail to those who seemed more promising than the others, and indeed, my efforts weren’t completely wasted.

This is how it began!
This is how it ended!

All this at the cost of a Mail Chimp account (not the free one of course)!

Lesson Learnt: Don’t haste your mails, savor them, and cross-check it against your prospects’ preferred flavor. If it doesn’t match, change it!

Reward System For Loyal Customers To Attract New Ones

Orgzit started to generate more traffic on its blog, more clicks came in, more impressions made their way, and yes, a few leads became customers. 5 months down the line, I started working out ways to re-engage our existing customers and get them more involved with out product. I planned to send them a booklet (again crafted with personalized industries), which contained tips on how they can better utilize Orgzit. Out of the 50 emails I sent, I got 2 replies. I wasn’t done yet.

The next thing I did was pretty awesome! I organized an event inviting all customers and presented them with a ‘free week of Orgzit’ to celebrate the milestone relationship that we completed (I served the Starbucks couple an additional cup of Cappuccino). Word of mouth travelled fast and I got three more customers asking for Orgzit services in the next month. Bingo! Tears wiped, glasses clinked!

Lesson Learnt: If you are looking for references from your existing customers, a reward system will do wonders.

Keep Providing Value. Continue To Act As Consultant Even After Services Rendered

If you are wondering what acts as the final link to establish a long-term and mutually beneficial customer relationship, it is the prospect of providing continued future services without the slightest indication that you are selling your consultancy services. You will get a lot many chances to do so once you get back a reply from them.

Lesson Learnt: There is virtue in showing goodwill. It always keeps you in your client’s best regards.

Every honest salesman (There, I said it!) knows that there is a silver lining in every lost lead — the relationship built with the customer. And damned be my philosophy if you don’t find lost leads renewing acquaintance just for a chat.

And who ever knows what all can go down in a chat.


Personal Note: I think that we are doing business in the age where every version of a product/service (from the marketing perspective) is an over-exaggerated version of its previous self. And that is exactly why selling a product/service is becoming more and more challenging — because exaggeration has no bounds. What remains constant is the process to sell it, the approach taken towards building a stable relationship with your customer, and the reliability quotient entailed by your product/service. I am a big fan of following business processes. And so I believe that one, if true to his/her purpose of business, can easily understand that salesmanship is all about adding value to your customer’s business and helping him to see a mutually beneficial relationship in future. Neither by hook, nor by crook!