The Stairs of Customer Loyalty
follow the same formulas for bringing them closer
to what they think their customers really want.
like "customer focus" and "customer
satisfaction" are warmly embraced.
who isn't focusing on satisfying customers?
in today's ultra-competitive marketplace, if you're
doing what everybody else is, you'll never get to
where you want to be.
It is incumbent
for companies to set themselves apart from the rest
of the competition. If your company is going to be
a leader in your market, you are going to have to
really practice things like "customer intimacy",
"customer interaction", "customer loyalty"
and perhaps more important - "customer partnership".
is a single-thread relationship. It is being "one."
relationship is built upon a mutually agreed-upon
plan that reflects the nature and needs of all parties
involved. This is not a re-wording of old terminology
or a re-defining of the same, tired concepts of "sales
it is a paradigm shift, moving away from transactional
customer satisfaction and towards permanent customer
to achieve success in the New Economy, your company
must develop the needed skills to develop long-term
relationships with their best customers. Too often,
however, the constant push to increase sales and market
share leads companies away from their current customers
and, instead, towards finding new ones. Such a strategy
is a terrible waste of time and money. The most effective
way to assure the growth in profitability that every
company wants is to turn their already-existing customers
far too many companies today, the overriding focus
of their growth strategy is on increasing sales and
eerily similar to what I experienced when I was working
my way through college selling cookware door to door.
As a beginning
salesperson, I naively believed the best way for me
to make more money was to make more sales. The foolish
dedication to this premise led me to ignore my past
customers in favor of always finding new ones. It
was only afterwards, when I found myself working harder
than ever before and making less money for the time
I invested, that I realized my strategy was wrong.
Unfortunately, many companies today are acting and
thinking like I did over thirty years ago. They dedicate
far more of their resources to expanding sales at
the expense of their already existing clientele.
while working with some of the smartest and most successful
companies across America, I have learned that the
ability to convert new sales into "apostles"
for the company is the best path towards stable, long-term
growth. Moreover, I have recognized which skills are
needed to accomplish this task. The stairs of customer
loyalty is the process which, in a simple, straightforward
manner, shows you how to convert your prospects into
sales, and then to customers, and finally, into apostles,
who are a group of raving fans who will "preach
your message" and "sing your praises"
to the marketplace.
Finding the Right Prospects and Avoiding the Wrong
the right marketing skills is crucial in properly
identifying the right kinds of prospects for a company.
Smart companies accomplish this responsibility by
profiling the top twenty percent of their current
customers who typically provide eighty percent of
their profits. Criteria like profitability, frequency
of purchase, after-sales service required, revenue,
and loyalty potential are quantified and used as measuring
devices in determining the most important characteristics
of a company's best, most potentially loyal customers.
for new business is very expensive.
companies need to avoid the wrong kinds of prospects
for them. Just as it is critical in distinguishing
the attributes of the right prospects, a company needs
to outline the characteristics that make-up the bottom
twenty percent of their customer base. Anybody in
business can easily recognize whom the complainers,
price-grinders, and transaction-oriented clients are.
By clearly understanding the bad traits of those bottom
twenty-percent, companies can much easier avoid the
wrong prospects and focus their resources on the upper
Rule" works at the bottom of the customer base
twenty percent of a company's customers more than
likely cost more to handle than they're worth. These
customers give more grief; chew up more time with
requests and complaints; and, generally, cause the
most stress for a company.
The Steps to Successful Sales
company is ready to make contact with the right type
of prospect, three face-to-face steps are used to
move to the next stair, "making the sale".
Each step requires particular selling skills that
are necessary to "close the sale". A successful
sale is like building a pyramid; each step depends
upon the success of the previous ones, and no step
can be omitted without creating disaster.
step of sales gives you the chance to get deeply involved
with your prospects to determine exactly how your
product or service can help them. It's where the partnering
process begins. The purpose of exploring is to get
enough information from the client to enable you to
recommend appropriate options. This step is epitomized
by the guiding principle of Collaborative Selling,
"Prescription before diagnosis is malpractice."
worked with your prospects to identify needs and concerns,
the next step is to determine whether or not your
product or service will solve a problem or seize an
opportunity for them. Usually there are several different
ways you can put your product or service together
to meet the needs of your prospects. The collaborative
selling way is much less adversarial and much easier.
You actually involve your prospects in deciding which
one of your options makes the most sense for them.
done your job properly to this point, your customer
should be asking to buy from you. The commitment becomes
a how and a when, not an if. Signing the agreement
is merely a formality. However, before confirming
the sale, you'll want to be sure your prospect has
all the information he needs to increase their perceived
value of your product or service.
in their industries are always customer-driven, instead
of operations-driven. Through the keen application
of service skills, smart companies design strategies
that assure that customer expectations are consistently
identified, managed, and monitored. Then, once these
are accomplished, exceeding customer expectations
becomes the compelling focus. Companies that apply
the correct service skills create moments of magic
for their customers, rather than moments of misery.
of Misery vs. Moments of Magic
a customer comes into contact with any aspect of your
company is actually of moment of truth for your organization.
When the customer encounters a member of your staff,
a piece of advertising, or any thing else that can
be tied to your company, they formulate opinions,
beliefs, impressions, and ideas about who you are
and what you're about. These moments of truth normally
result in one of three outcomes: a Moment of Misery,
a Moment of Mediocrity, or a Moment of Magic.
Customers who consistently have their expectations
exceeded - or, receive Moments of Magic - are those
who become apostles for your organization.
Customers into Apostles
strong intimacy with the customer characterizes the
apostle stair of customer loyalty. Creating apostles
should be the highest goal of customer development.
Apostles will do more for your organization through
their good will and word of mouth than almost any
other form of marketing or sales. Smart companies
look to double the number of apostles each year by
moving prospects, sales, and customers up the stairs
of customer loyalty.
that become "Apostle-Driven" are those which
do not constantly have to dedicate limited resources
of time and money to always finding new customers.
Their Apostles accomplish this task for them. Such
leading companies, of which there are far too few,
are the ones that will dominate their industries now
and well into the new century.
of Customer Loyalty shows you how to consciously shape
a plan for developing your customer relationship skills
in a more congruent manner and is a benchmark in fostering
and promoting permanent customer relationships for
businesses of all sizes.
of Customer Loyalty helps you recognize the wide range
of challenges facing your company today and provides
the skills indispensable for overcoming them so you
can achieve the critical relationships needed to survive
and thrive in the new millennium.