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Use the 3 Rules in Loyalty Sales

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By Don Farrell 

Loyalty, vs. any other adjective or adverb you can come up with, is the best way to approach selling your potential clients for immediate and long term results.  Here is the first example of loyalty in a known commodity, selling gas at a gas station.  In stores like furniture stores that don't, by and large, sell  commodity items, there is even more opportunity to differentiate to create customer loyalty.   

You own a gas station and you know that the net profit margin is very slim, so you can’t afford to lower prices, or offer freebies as an incentive to picking up and retaining new customers.  So how can you create a more loyal customer?  Most gas station customers are probably looking at price and location as the two greatest features.  If your price is comparable to the next guy and you are on their way to and from work, then people will more than likely call your gas station theirs.  However, this is not much of a loyalty-driving proposition.  What if the lighting at your gas station is weak, the window cleaning solution habitually dry, the pumps dirty, or the receipt doesn’t come out like it should?  Enough reason(s) to chase customers to the next station? Probably.  What if you, as the owner or manager, not only had these lighting and other operational fundamentals in place, but in addition you also made it a habit of walking the pump area, picking up trash and talking to your customers.  What would happen if you said "Hi, my name is _____ and I own/manage this station.  I f you need anything I will be out here or just inside.  Thanks for using us for your gas needs."  When is the last time you received this kind of a free benefit at a gas station?  Never or very rarely.  Customers would probably be blown away they wouldn’t expect it.  This is the first step in driving loyalty … exceeding expectations. 

Let’s try another example, one that has repeated hundreds of times.  You are a 25-year-old woman who is planning her wedding, something you’ve probably been thinking about for the past 20 years.  Like all women and men you want this day to be perfect, one of the very best of your entire life.  You are getting ready to make the most important phone calls that will determine how your special day will go and the area that more things can go wrong or right.   That’s right, we are talking about the reception facility.  How many places will the bride-to-be call to set up an appointment to meet with the catering staff to then determine which facility wins her trust?  Three, four, five?   Regardless of how many, she will more than likely have a conversation with an experienced wedding planner who focuses on 3 things, three very selfish things: rates, dates and space.  Those will be the three things the catering veteran will want to know in determining whether they even wants this bride’s business.  This catering professional fields many calls in a day, in a week, in a month asking the same kinds of things, so she has learned to streamline the calls to save herself time. She may be a veteran wedding planner, but has learned how not to have a customer centric approach to selling or driving loyalty with that soon to be bride.  So rule # 2 in driving loyalty with your potential and existing customers/clients is to make an emotional connection.  This is especially important for furniture stores that often want to tell the stories of products shown on the floors, promote their great deals services. This misses the point that the furniture store customers want to assurances that they can get help creating and furnishing beautiful, functional rooms without risks or hassles.

Why should you be concerned with loyalty?  If you go into your wallet you will see that you have a fair amount of frequency or loyalty program cards, some from competing brands of each other.  The truth is, as consumers, people are looking for more than satisfaction.  They want personal perks, surprises and value add kinds of goods and services.  It sometimes makes up for the bad service they can get, but how much more loyalty would you be driving if the fundamentals are in place and on top of the stuff customers were supposed to get, they got a surprise bonus.   Emotional connections with managers who go out of their way to show care and concern.  Surprises in the form of getting a delivery that exceeds my expectations as a consumer.   

As business owners and operators you already know that it is expensive to find new customers and even more expensive to fix things that they are dissatisfied with.  Your mission should not be to make customers satisfied, but to go beyond satisfaction and straight to a commitment of loyalty the very second the experience begins.  Go back to the catering director who fielded the wedding reception request.  Instead of focusing on the catering hall’s selfish rates, dates and space needs, she instead made the bride feel incredibly special by beginning the conversation with an incredibly passionate tone: " … well, Charlotte, let me just say congratulations to you and David on several levels.  First for your upcoming wedding and secondly, for choosing to consider us for your reception needs.  My staff and me are absolutely committed in every way possible to making this wedding day one of the very best days of your life … " 

Caring more, doing more and communicating that you care better than any one of your competitors is what business leaders need to be doing.  Making the emotional connection and keeping the customer/client focus before our own selfish gains also solidifies and earns that loyalty.  So rule # 3 is putting customer needs before your own needs.   

Delivering the basics creates satisfaction, but does not drive loyalty.  Satisfaction is what consumers are supposed to get.  Loyalty comes from the added bonuses talked about here. Delivering more than customers expect is the name of the game each and every day.  You can’t wow them just once, each and every time you touch them and they touch you loyalty needs to be driven home.  When you do this, incredible things happen.  People buy stuff from you and they come back for more! 

About the author: Don Farrell is the author of "Ethical Theft … how to steal business." He is a speaker who conducts training workshops and consults select clients on how to create a unique sales and service culture.  His clients thrive in recessions or good times alike because they have adopted his philosophy of liberating from the competition.  To find out more about Don's company or to buy his book, you can go to www.FreshRevenues.com or call 731-514-1589.

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