Who is the person most responsible for cultivating customer loyalty? Here’s a hint: He or she isn’t in Customer Service.
Answer: It’s the salesperson.
The salesperson should be the first to know when his or her customers are having problems — and be the first to react.
Times have changed
Salespeople used to organize themselves to meet the needs of the products and services they were selling. That’s changed.
Customers aren’t what they used to be. Now they expect salespeople to concentrate on meeting customer needs.
Here are three reasons why customer relationship management is critical today for every salesperson:
- Commoditization. When customers are offered a vast number of similar products, all equally capable of doing the necessary job, they begin to see most products as commodities, distinguished only by price.
- Branding. To differentiate themselves from the competition, salespeople and their companies try to emphasize and cultivate distinct brands. Brand preference and brand loyalty are the new touchstones of customer relationship management.
- Customer information. To ensure that their products and services meet customer demands, salespeople are now gathering and analyzing customer information like never before.
IDIC to build loyalty
The acronym IDIC stands for the four steps today’s salespeople should follow to build customer loyalty: identify, differentiate, interact and customize.
Step 1. Identify. Standardize the way you collect and analyze customer information. Understand customers’ business issues that can make or break a sale. Gather research that allows the customer to be recognized and remembered during every contact. Keep the information current. If you stay focused on the customer, you will be able to spot problems or needs and respond quickly before things get out of hand.
Step 2. Differentiate. Some customers have a higher value than others. Customers who cost less to serve are higher-margin and higher-value customers than those who cost more. Customers who use more high-margin products or services are also of higher value. Differentiating your customers based on their needs, buying patterns or other relevant characteristics is both possible and advisable.
Step 3. Interact. Interaction with the customer involves both assumptions and understandings. To have a dialogue, you and your customer must accept the possibility that the dialogue will cause a change in approach, understanding or attitudes.
Step 4. Customize. Quantify soft advantages, like quality, reputation, service and reliability and make them tangible. Show how your products and services align with customer needs and priorities. Before implementing sales technology, define first how it will help the customer.
Source: Don Peppers and Martha Rogers are the founding partners of the Peppers and Rogers Group, a Carlson Marketing Group Company based in Norwalk, CT.