What does it take to turn first-time buyers into repeat customers? They’re looking for four factors.
A study by the Forum Corp. identifies them:
- Reliability. The ability to provide what’s promised dependably and accurately is listed as the number one requirement for first time buyers. They have no patience for salespeople who overpromise, don’t meet expectations or fail to inform them of possible problems. Some salespeople spend months pursuing a new customer but fail to ensure that initial orders are fulfilled in a satisfactory manner.
- Assurance. They expect salespeople to have the knowledge and the expertise to meet all of their requirements. Prospects want to be convinced that you and your company are dependable. Their first order is a trial. How you handle it will determine whether they will become repeat customers.
- Empathy. Prospects will be measuring the degree of caring and individual attention you provide after they place the first order. They like to feel they’re doing business with you, a salesperson, and not just your company.
- Responsiveness. Prospects expect quick reaction to a request or a problem. They also expect salespeople to try to make sure that problems don’t occur in the first place. Once prospects are convinced they can rely on the responsiveness of the salesperson, there’s a good possibility they will become repeat customers.
Customer loyalty is hard-won
Customer loyalty is hard-won and mostly driven by the quality of the salesperson. The ultimate question is: How can a salesperson determine what his or her customers’ value most, so as to satisfy their expectations and turn them into repeat buyers.
The following actions help convert first-time buyers into repeat customers:
- Seek customer feedback early and respond quickly. Follow up the first sale with some form of customer contact soon after delivery. Try to pinpoint any problems immediately. Satisfied customers want a positive response when they run into problems or have serious questions.
- Maintain communication with the decision-maker. Some salespeople make the mistake of dealing with the day-to-day users in a customer’s organization and ignoring the original decision-maker. It’s a good idea to maintain contact with your decision-maker if only to get his or her feedback.
- If you make a mistake with the first order, admit it right away. Don’t try to place blame or cover it up with excuses. The customer knows what’s going on and will be looking for your reaction. Once you admit the mistake, start talking about solutions.
- Come up with new ideas for new customers. You have experience and knowledge. You know what’s happening in your industry and your customer’s needs. Make a serious effort to share your thoughts with new customers.
- Don’t take a customer’s loyalty for granted, especially when dealing with a first time buyer. The key to customer loyalty is not just providing a quality service or product, but how you service and support it. Meeting customer expectations in a first sale may not be enough. First-time buyers want to know you care. For loyalty to endure, it must be noticed and acknowledged.