If you think all you’re selling is a product, think again. In order to continue to do business with your new buyer, you must also sell a service. The demand for customer service increases significantly after the first sale is made. That’s when your customer sees if you stand behind your products, and how you treat their company. Here are some suggestions to forge that critical relationship that will pay off with return business.
1 Thank You’s: The most effective is the simple, snail-mail postcard. It thanks her long after spoken words are forgotten and emails have been deleted. It’s personal and in your own handwriting. It passes through everyone’s hands at the buyer’s office and stays out for days.
2 Check back: Give her a call. Ask if she got what she expected and how your products are working out for her. Inquire if she would like a different configuration or quantity. Be ready to exchange whatever is necessary to demonstrate that you care about her success with your products.
3 Pay a visit: See for yourself if your products are moving for your buyer. Can her customers see your products? Are they still in the back room or the warehouse weeks after they were delivered? Are they priced right? You or your representative must take responsible for her success with your product.
4 Get the reorder: Especially when your product is new, it is easily discontinued. Your buyer and her clerk are not yet in the habit of reordering it. Your distributer’s rep may forget to ask for the reorder because he cannot see it on the shelf, or worse, want to put something new in its place. You must watch all your new placements like a hawk.
5 Sell everybody: Often you have to sell your products to everyone along the distribution chain. Remember that the managers, clerks, and even the warehouse people all represent critical links in a fragile chain between you and the ultimate user. If just one person along the chain doesn’t perform, it may never get to the end consumer. Your product will be blamed, and you will hear, “It just didn’t sell.”
6 Bring in customers: Raise local awareness and demand for your product. Don’t assume that just because it’s the best buy or delivers exceptional value, it will automatically sell. You have to get the word out. Give your buyer’s customers a reason to purchase your product.
7 Take an expanded view of customer service: If you have a product that is a profit center for your buyer, you owe it to her, as a matter of good customer service, to keep her in stock. Sometimes a month or two can go by before your buyer realizes she’s out. By that time her sales reports indicate that your product is not selling. Don’t let her discontinue your product because it sold so well! Remember, the best sales person is the “assistant buyer.”
New products may come and go without anyone really noticing. Stay on top of all your first time buyers. Deliver the expanded view of customer service and you won’t lose your customer right after you make the first sale.