In the contemporary business environment, many organisations do have customer feedback loops in place, but few incentivise salespeople to maintain good relations after the sale has been made. Why are these good relations necessary?
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In a remarkable finding, The Council on Financial Competition states that: “It costs 5 to 10 times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one”. The implication of this is very clear: Keeping a client means that your sales to cost (to garner business) ratio translates directly into higher profit margins.
The evolving role of sales
Firstly, and it should go without saying, delivery on your promises as a provider of a good or service is fundamental to repeat business. If you cannot produce what your customer is paying for, they will, rightfully, seek your product or service elsewhere. For the purpose of this argument, let’s suppose that your organisation has gotten this fundamental right. We can then move on to the realm of aftersales service.
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Too many sales managers, arguably, view aftersales service as being beyond the purview of the sales department, but research challenges this assumption. The fact of the matter is that sales staff are the tip of the spear and the first representatives of your company that clients interact with. They are, therefore, the human face of your company, and the first person with whom clients develop an important relationship. Capitalising on this relationship should be an obvious stratagem to adopt.
Do more than just sell, sell, sell
Using your salespeople to continue to build company-customer relationships is vital in strengthening rapport and bringing in repeat business. In essence, a successful sales call means that the call has not ended with the sale.
The nature of salesperson remuneration, however, creates a problem here: when salespeople earn commissions on sales they will focus their attention on developing and converting new leads. Whereas this is their primary role within the company, incentivising them to engage in active relationship building and maintenance will be worth the while.
Reward for more than sales
A savvy sales manager may want to implement an incentive programme that encourages salespeople to communicate with clients on a regular basis post the sale. Emails and phone calls are simple tools, but extremely effective nonetheless. The result, psychologically, will naturally be that the client will feel that there is a personal connection at play rather than a purely professional one.
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Although a salesperson isn’t earning commission on this relationship building exercise, an incentive programme that clearly stipulates and rewards post-sales duties will act to spur your salesforce to retain clients.
In summary, as the business environment is innovative and dynamic, traditional roles placed upon employees or channel partners should also be continually evolving: in this specific context, the role of a salesperson has clearly expanded and could appropriately be seen as that of brand ambassador, whose duties extend beyond garnering new business. Remuneration for this new role should include not only sales commissions, but also incentive rewards for building and keeping excellent relations with the various respective decision makers.