In the last issue of eCoach, I outlined my view of the difference between customer satisfaction and genuine customer loyalty. A satisfied customer will stick with you until a better deal comes along. Since competitors can quickly match or copy almost anything you do to gain an advantage, it won’t be long until that better deal shows up.
Truly loyal customers are those who value their relationship with you so highly that they have stopped shopping for the kinds of goods or services you provide. They are with you for the long haul. Your competitors’ enticements fall on deaf ears. Customers who are genuinely loyal to you simply aren’t interested in anyone else’s promises or prices or special deals.
If you have ever felt that sort of loyalty to a supplier, please think for a moment about the real object of your loyalty. Was it actually the company? I’ll bet it wasn’t. I’ll bet it was a person—or maybe a few people—who worked for that company.
People won’t go deaf to a company’s competitors. They will go deaf to the competitors of another person. Any customers, but especially B2B clients, are most apt to become loyal when they have developed a bond with a particular kind of person. This kind of person acts as a consultant, an orchestrator of resources and, above all, a relationship builder.
LOYALTY ITSELF MUST BE MARKETED AND SOLD, JUST LIKE ANY MORE TANGIBLE PRODUCT.
People who are skilled at generating loyalty understand that loyalty must be earned. Beyond that, however, real masters of loyalty creation know that loyalty itself must be marketed and sold, just like any more tangible product. Because people become loyal to other people, loyalty generators in B2B situations market not just their companies and their products but themselves.
The very best salespeople are always loyalty generators. When it comes to sales, in fact, you could almost say that learning to sell loyalty is the whole ballgame. But if you really want your company to create a lot of loyal customers, why stop with training the sales force? Everyone in a customer-contact role—technicians, support staff, customer-service people—should all think of themselves as customer relationship professionals.
Here is the heart of my argument: The underlying purpose of every conversation that every person in your company has with a client should be to create loyalty by strengthening their personal relationship with that client.
Of course, the vast majority of employees, including those in your company, don’t understand that. And even if the idea makes sense to them, they don’t know how to do it. Therefore, they don’t act as loyalty generators.
“How to do it” is what I describe in my latest book. What do I mean, exactly, by “a consultant, an orchestrator of resources, and a relationship builder“? I try not just to explain the formula—which, of course, ties into the Action Selling system—but to illustrate what it looks like, sounds like, and feels like when true loyalty is being generated in a customer conversation.
Can you actually see and feel loyalty come into being? Yes, you can—if you know what to look for. And there is no more important goal you can pursue if you want customers who will give you more of their business over a longer period of time. After all, isn’t that what companies mean when they say they want “loyal” customers?
For information about how to make employee training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling at (800) 232-3485.
Want your company to start creating customers who are genuinely loyal? Check out my latest book, Masters of Loyalty: How to Turn Your Work Force Into a Loyalty Force.
ABOUT DUANE SPARKS
Duane Sparks is founder and chairman of The Sales Board, the authoritative source of practical and leading-edge information about the art and science of selling. He has created Action Selling sales training products and learning systems that transform sales organizations. Duane is author of these best-selling books: Action Selling, Selling Your Price, Questions (the Answer to Sales), Masters of Loyalty (How to turn your sales force into a loyalty force), and Sales Strategy from the Inside Out (How complex selling really works).
Discover how the best sales training process can make spectacular improvements in sales skills. Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You are One).