Customer Experience News & Trends

Proven strategies to create long-term customer relationships, loyalty

Successful companies spend time with their customers beyond the initial purchasing transaction, providing value and building engagement and alignment. They continue to learn what their customers need after closing the initial sale. 

What customers appreciate

Customers appreciate knowing that you expect to be held accountable for their success after the sale is complete. It provides them with a sense of reduced risk.

The inability or unwillingness of salespeople to do business the way their customers want to do business can jeopardize long-term relationships. Customers buy in large part because of their relationships with their suppliers. So it’s a good idea for salespeople to become students of their customers.


Successful salespeople use the “engage-win-grow” sales approach to get closer to their customers and continue a positive relationship. To win more sales, they want to occupy more space in their customers’ minds.

Here are the strategies that will win the battle for customer mind share:

  • Research the organization. What’s going on with the customer that’s significant? What companies are its rivals in the marketplace? Who makes purchasing decisions? Your research should tell you what matters most to them. You have to give your customers a reason to continue to do business with you.
  • Visualize success. Help the customer visualize future success, and discuss how to make that vision a reality. The vision for a brighter future that you present should include how you and your products or services will continue to add genuine value for the customer.
  • Elevate the conversation. Focus on what the customer cares about (his/her business) and not on what you care about (the sale). Route the conversation to what your customer wants to accomplish, why it matters to him/her and how you can help the person achieve this goal. Prioritize the customer’s targets – the needs he/she wants to fill – not your targets.
  • Differentiate value. Your value represents more than product features and benefits. It should fulfill the customer’s goals and be sustainable over time. Try to break down the elements of your product or service’s unique value. You’re unique if no other product or service delivers the same impact as your product or service.
  • Grow the sale. In the grow phase, you drive success after the sale by developing the strongest possible relationship with your customers and extending your success to new opportunities. Did purchasing your product or service result in your customer achieving the goals you planned together beforehand?  Customers don’t like salespeople who vanish after the sale. They expect salespeople to deliver the value they promise and to maintain a relationship past the initial sale.
  • Expand the relationship. Summarize how your customer secured value by buying from you. Try to help your customer attain additional success over time. Rely on the insights you developed through research and interactions to make your case.

Excellence before, during and after the sale requires a long-term approach, which leads to continuity and creates trust and understanding.

The changing role of service

Some salespeople do a great job of selling until the prospect turns into a customer. Then, after the product or service is delivered, they drop out of the picture, moving on to close new sales.

Here are four reasons why these salespeople don’t focus on after-sale check-ups:

  1. They focus on the next prospect before finding out if the new customer is satisfied with their product or service.
  2. They fear they might hear complaints during a follow-up meeting.
  3. They don’t know enough about the product or service they sell.
  4. They forget that every product or service may still require advice from the seller before it fulfills a customer need.

Top salespeople separate themselves from the ordinary by conducting after-sales checkups after delivery is made. They recognize that service excellence gives them a competitive edge.

Creating loyal customers

When good service is experienced by customers, they are much more likely to do business with the salesperson again. Referrals and repeat business may increase when customer expectations for service are met.

The first rule is to stay in touch. Immediately after your first delivery is made, call to find out if the customer has any problems.  Let your customers know they can count on you to solve their problems even after the sale is made.

Adapted from: Beyond the Sales Process, by Steve Anderson and Dave Stein. Andersen founded Performance Methods Inc., which provides customized sales management solutions. Smith is the author of How Winners Sell.

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