My mother taught me one of the best-ever, fundamental lessons of client service and client retention. She said I should be able to speak with the beggar on the street, or the Queen of England - and everyone in-between. To do that, we need to possess a healthy mix of self-confidence and the ability to initiate conversation with others. A great way to do this is to ask questions (to be curious) about the other person’s life.
You should be able to speak with a beggar or the Queen of England - and everyone in-between. – Sarah Ritchie
Asking questions, and learning about your client, is also one of the best ways to build client relationships. Once you build a strong and trust-based relationship with your client, the sales will more easily fall your way. People do business with people they like; especially someone who takes an interest in them.
Harvey Mackay, a well-known American businessman and author, wrote: “To prove they know their customers, all my salespeople must answer 66 questions about them.” These questions form the “Mackay 66™”, a 66-question customer profile (view profile here). This profile includes zero questions about the widgets and services your client buys, but rather focuses on the person who does the buying.
Mackay also wrote: “Any Google search can tell you all you need to know about a company you want to sell to — in fact, more than you need to know. But that doesn't mean you know your customer because the company isn’t your customer. There’s a person in that company who makes decisions about how the company is going to spend money, and who will get their business. That’s your customer.”
Let’s be honest. How much do you really know about your clients? Do you know where they live, or how many children they have? Do you know what days of the week they work or what their hobbies are? Or do your conversations gear only toward your current project or the marketing plan for the year?
Building a strong relationship with your client is the foundation for building client loyalty. Loyalty will help to fend off competitors when they bay at your client’s door (and they will). Loyalty will help to keep your client buying off you when the economy takes a downturn (which it will). Loyalty will help to smooth over the rough patches when you make a mistake (and you will). Loyalty will help to secure future sales when your client moves to another company and looks for a supplier (which they will).
One question I would add to the Mackay 66™ is whether my client drinks coffee/tea/hot chocolate and if they take milk and sugar. One of the most simple and effective ways I’ve found to show I care about my client is to remember that “Joe Smith has strong coffee with no milk and two sugars”, and to be able to give that to Joe without asking each time. What question would you add to the list? Please let us know in the comment section below!