October 17, 2013

Why 'One Size Fits All' Customer Relationship Strategies Often Fail

We are finding that building relationships, developing a rapport, and earning a customers trust is more important than ever before. Most consumers in today's marketplace want to feel like they have some sort of "connection" with your company and staff. In many cases, it's the relationship that will make or break the sale. One mistake some sales and marketing professionals make is adopting what I call a "one size fits all" customer relationship. What this means is dealing with every customer using the same approach and in the same manner. The key to developing a solid relationship is first, establishing a rapport. The customer needs to feel comfortable and connected with you if you want them to consider your offerings. Here are some ideas to think about when developing your customer relationships.

Understand their personality

There are many different personality types. It is imperative to quickly pick up on a customer's personality, and adapt your technique to match their style. For instance, there are some personalities who are fast-paced and all business. The best way to establish a rapport and earn their trust is by being quick, succinct and efficient in the delivery of products, information and services. On the contrary, there are personality types who respond well to pre-business chit chat. With these personalities, you might want to open the conversation with something like, "did your son's team win their game last week?" They want to feel like you know and understand them. It is important to quickly gauge the personality type of your client. One client may perceive small talk as "wasting time"; while another may view a lack of it as being "cold".

Listen to their needs


Too often, we operate in our own little bubble. We come to learn our products and/or services so well that we can recite our sales pitches in our sleep. However, it is very important to listen to your clients, hear what they are saying and demonstrate how you can help solve a problem or fulfill a need. Evaluate each situation individually and customize your conversations and pitch for every customer. There is nothing more aggravating to me as a consumer than to ask for information about a product and/or service and receive a "stock" response from the sales representative. I want to know how whatever I am interested in will specifically help me. Is the sales agent willing to help me find a customized solution, or is just out to "make a sale"?

Think about how your actions will be perceived

It is important to consider culture, the economy and even religion when dealing with clients. For instance, sending holiday cards to customers is a great gesture and way to build your relationships. However, this may offend a customer who is a practicing Jehovah's Witness and does not celebrate holidays for religious reasons. Giving high priced gifts to clients can sometimes be perceived as a waste of company money. Now, I'm not saying not to do any of these things, but it is important to always think about the person and how they might perceive your act of kindness. I often deal with sales professionals in my business. I can immediately spot the ones who treat me with a "one size fits all" approach. Even if what they are offering seems like a great opportunity, they will most likely not earn my business. A sales representative who demonstrates their willingness to develop a long-term relationship and go above and beyond to provide customized solutions has already won half the battle of making the sale.

Gina Smith writes freelance articles for magazines, online outlets and publications on behalf of a number of companies, including Global Response. Smith covers the latest topics in the business, golf, tourism, technology and entertainment industries.