Make no bones about it, this is a tough economy. The good news is the strong will survive. The other piece of good news is that companies who do not provide value and do not treat their sales prospects or customers with the respect they deserve will whither and die.
Pretty much everyone running a sales team and/or a business today must be asking themselves a fundamental question: How do I earn the business of prospective and current customers?
The answer is a simple axiom: Make your Customer (or Prospect) feel important. It is not rocket science and has been written about by Dale Carnegie and as Mr. Carnegie pointed out in his age old classic – How to Win Friends and Influence People – so did Sigmund Freud and John Dewey. This ability to make people feel important will not only serve you well in business but also in every aspect of life. Of course, your expression must be sincere, especially in business as switching costs go down and the voracity of your competition goes up. Insincerity is at best a short term strategy and at worst the path of a fool.
I was reminded about how true this timeless truth is as I sit outside a Starbucks in Japan. As the doors slide open, every incoming customer is greeted with an energetic "Konichiwa" and every outgoing customer is greeting with an equally pleasant "Domo arigato". The local super market has a very nice young lady who greets me with a smile, a hello and what sounds like a "thank you for coming" opening line. These are all simple devices that make me feel important. My patronage is increasingly important as dollars become scarce.
The same holds true for any business interaction, no matter the format. As you evaluate how not only to make it through this business climate but to grow look for ways to infuse a sense of sincere importance with each of your customer interactions. Arguably this is an especially vital behavior during the initial sales process. However keeping existing customers will require that you follow through on the expectations set during the sales process and treat existing customers with equal care.
It sounds simple and perhaps elementary. As I sit 13,000 miles away from home and experience how other businesses make their customers feel important, I believe we can all take the time to step back and value each of our interactions a little bit more.