March 15

Customer Relationships Must Come First

Forget The Short Sale!

No sorry, this is not an article about strategies to get out from under mortgage debt and sell your home quickly. It is quite the opposite. It is an article about how to take the stress out of the selling process, and put the focus back on customer relationships.

For anyone who knows me this will not come as a shock. I am not what you would call much of a  “girly girl.”  I do not like to shop, I would rather hike than have lunch, and no matter how much I try I can’t figure out how it takes anyone longer than thirty minutes to get ready to go anywhere.

However, while I fail at most things feminine there is one area where I excel. One area I love to do so much that it makes up for all the other areas where I fall short. That area is going to the spa. Any day, any time, no matter what is on my agenda, I will drop everything to head to the spa. The idea of getting a massage, a facial or simultaneously getting my toes done and my nails painted is my idea of a really good time.

I know that some women suffer from that complex of never putting themselves first, well trust me that has never been a “girl” thing I have suffered from either. Every single month you can find me blocking time on my calendar and heading to the spa.

This past month I went twice. Don’t judge me! I had been traveling and working like crazy so I scheduled some needed “me” time. The first experience, a massage, could not have been better. Later, this same month I decided that I deserved a facial. A last minute decision, I called around to find some place that could get me in that day. The only place with an opening was a place I had visited before, but was not crazy about because I remembered the experience as feeling pushy, awkward and a bit salesy! 

But a girls gotta do what a girl has got to do, so I decided to give them another try. Now, when the aesthetician took me back she noticed from my record that I had not been there for a while, like a year. She said she was glad I was back, and asked if I had had any facials since then. To which I immediately told her, “Of course! I go at least once a month, sometimes twice.”

That should have been her first clue, for any sales person that was a powerful statement. I use the services you offer a lot, yet I do not frequent your business. Wouldn’t that make you wonder why or at the very least realize you have a live one on the line? Having missed that clue she started my facial at the same time she started her sales pitch. For the next forty-five minutes she simultaneously used the most amazing products on my face while trying to sell me every single one. As much as I tried I could not enjoy the experience as I had to fend off every sales pitch she sent my way.

Finally she got the hint: I was not going to buy anything that day. At that point she gave me her card and asked that when I do come back in to buy something that I make sure to mention her name to the front desk so she would get credit for the sale (another faux pas but I will save that or another blog.)  Now, I have to admit it was a bit naive of her to think I was ever coming back to buy anything or schedule another appointment.

“It is a fatal, and I mean fatal mistake to focus on selling one product or service instead of focusing on customer relationships.”

Why? Because she focused (I would guess she was trained to) on the short sale rather than on forming the relationship. The esthetician was so intent on selling me this one product that she missed the opportunity to sell many, perhaps a lifetimes worth. In this economy, it is a fatal, and I mean fatal mistake to focus on selling one product or service instead of focusing on customer relationships.

I left that day, (now remember I am the woman who goes to the spa at least twice a month) vowing never to darken the doors of that place again. Why? Not because the procedure was bad, in fact the facial was great. Not because she was rude, mean or even that the service was bad. No I left vowing never to return because she focused on the short sale, and as a customer I felt unimportant and not valued.

In today’s economy, you must remember the customer is in control, they are calling shots. They can buy anything they want to, anywhere they want to, and from anyone they want to. What you sell has become a commodity, so how you sell it is now your competitive advantage.

And how you sell it is about focusing on the long sale and the depth of your client relationships.

3 Strategies To Build Long-Term Customer Relationships

  1. Slow Down – go easy on your pace and your need to sell, this is a marathon not a sprint. You need to be in this for the long haul. Take your time, allow the customer relationships to build, and get to know your customers. Had my aesthetician taken the time to learn about me she would have found out I was a gold-mine in terms of repeat business and referrals.
  1. Invest First – take the time to connect with customers. Invest in what they say, get to know them before you ask them to get to know you. Remember people only do business with you, especially in this economy, if they know like and trust you. Build the relationship first.
  1. Overfill – now I get it, you have goals to meet, bills to pay and here I am asking you to slow down. Well, I am, but I am also going to tell you to overfill your sales funnel. In an economy where you are not in control of when the customer buys, your sales behaviors need to pick up. You need to understand that sales is a lifestyle not a task. You need to overfill your sales funnel, and have more prospects coming in then you need sales to close.

So there you have it, three key ingredients to sell successfully in this economy. I realize these are challenging times, but I believe this is also a great economy to be successful in. However, you need to understand this economy, how it has changed and specifically how that has impacted your customer relationships. My example is just one of many that proves it is a myth that people are not spending in this economy, but to get them to spend with you you need to forget the short sale.

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Motivational Keynote Speaker & Business Growth Expert, Meridith Elliott Powell works with clients to help them instill ownership at every level to ensure profits at every turn. Meridith is the author of several books, including her latest, “Own It: Redefining Responsibility: Stories of Power, Freedom & Purpose”. When not keynoting and leading workshops, she looks for inspiration cycling, golfing or hiking her favorite trail.

Meridith Elliott Powell

Voted one of the Top 15 Business Growth Experts to watch by Currency Fair, highly engaging corporate motivational keynote speaker Meridith Elliott Powell delivers a cutting-edge message, rooted in real-life examples and real-world knowledge. Meridith’s presentations are full of powerful content, highly interactive, and fun. She helps her clients learn the leadership development, sales and business growth strategies to turn uncertainty to competitive advantage.

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