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Post-Sale Follow-Up- The Secret to Lasting Customer Relationships

Post-Sale Follow-Up: The Secret to Lasting Customer Relationships

Customer relationships are more valuable in distribution than closing single transactions. But how is your post-sale follow-up? Following up with customer post-sale is an important way to make sure your customers know they mean more to you than just a sales transaction.

Providing Post-sale Service Boosts Customer Satisfaction

Leaders in the industry have spent time crafting distribution sales processes and using leading distribution CRM technology for greater sales execution. The activities you perform after the sale might matter more to your customers that the activities that led up to the sale. These post-sale services might include things like installation support, providing maintenance tips, offering troubleshooting assistance, handling warranty claims, and more.

Installation Guidance: Many of the products that durable goods distributors sell could benefit from some kind of installation support. Do you let your manufacturers’ manuals and videos just sit passively on your website? What if you created a specialized email campaign to send to recent buyers that sent them resources to help them set-up, install and even train their customers on the equipment they bought from you? This is so much more valuable than just sending a typical, “thank you and here’s a coupon,” style email. You improve their business with installation guidance, you improve their customer’s user experience, and you decrease the chances of returns due to dissatisfaction, damage or product mishandling.

Maintenance Tips: Many of the products you sell either require or would benefit from regular maintenance. Maintenance can prolong the lifespan of your products and help your customers keep their customers happy. Again, your suppliers probably provide easy-to-follow maintenance tips, but they aren’t doing anyone any good unless you share them with your customers. Simple emails – even about mundane tasks like cleaning instructions – help your customers get maximum value from their purchases with you. Even better, you could schedule a follow up maintenance email or activity after the sale inside your CRM system – perhaps a 90-day check-in. That way you’ve built in a follow up activity with your customer that provides value instead of just calling to see if they want to make another purchase.

Troubleshooting Assistance: Things go wrong. No matter how careful your delivery team is, how high your supplier’s product quality or how good your support reps are, things just go wrong. Most distributors are pretty good at offering prompt and effective troubleshooting assistance when things do go wrong. What if you were more proactive than just waiting for a support call? You can use your CRM or marketing system to schedule a “just in case,” style email filled with troubleshooting information and the phone and email of your help center. Make them aware of other services you offer at the same time for training, installation and on-site support.

Post-sale follow up can easily be integrated into your sales process when you use a distribution CRM system. They help differentiate you from your competitors, improve satisfaction and make it more likely those customers will purchase from you next time.

Post-sale Follow Up: Feedback Creates Loyalty and Repeat Business

Following up with your customers after the sale is a great way to gather important feedback about your products and services. Just the act of asking for feedback helps build a stronger relationship as customers feel like they matter to your business. It also helps you stay top of mind for future purchases.

Gathering Feedback: Everyone likes being asked their opinion and feedback is a good opportunity to improve your services. It’s easy to send out surveys through email after the sale so there is no excuse not to. But asking for feedback is a great way to gain one more sales touch with the customer. Most importantly, you will gain insight into how your customers perceive their products and services that you provided, what they like, what they dislike and where you can improve. All these things add up to great customer loyalty

Building Loyalty with Feedback: In addition to identifying issues and helping provide solutions and improvements, asking for and responding to customer feedback improves the overall customer experience. When customers feel that you and your team value them, they feel more loyal to your company. They’ll want to stick with you for future purchases. Loyal customers are also brand advocates, meaning they are more likely to recommend you to others which helps with your overall sales and marketing customer acquisition activities

Loyal Customers Repeat Purchases: Feedback is a great way to stay in contact which helps you stay top of mind. Of course, you should continue your other top-of-mind-awareness campaigns such as regular email newsletters, call campaigns and events. But because few distributors take the time to reach out for feedback, you further differentiate yourself while staying in front of the customer. Regular communication allows you to slip in information about new products and special offers which encourages further purchases. Here’s an example:

Sales rep: Hi John, I was just following up with you to see how the installation of that air conditioning unit went last week:

Customer: The unit works great but the customer called me to say it’s a little noisier than expected. It’s keeping them up at night.

Sales rep: I’m sorry to hear that. We’ve had great luck with that unit in the past. I wonder if there could be some issues with the ducts, maybe some cleaning and sealing are needed?

Customer: I didn’t think about that, what do you suggest?

Sales rep: You’ve been a great customer. Why don’t we send one of our techs out to meet you at the customer location and they’ll bring some gear and sealant.

There Are Always New Opportunities After the Sale

Your sales reps can significantly enhance their customer service follow up and their customer relationships by effectively using distribution-specific CRM software, marketing strategies, and by gaining insights from sales after making a sale. Here are some examples:

Product recommendations: One of our clients’ favorite features of SMP is the product scorecard. Because SMP connects your sales data to your ERP data, you have access to full sales histories. The product scorecard quickly shows your reps which products your customers are buying, but more importantly, which similar products they should be buying. You can use this information to suggest complementary products and upgrades, offer bulk discounts or anticipate needs that the customer hasn’t even expressed yet.

Anticipation: Data can make it seem like you are reading your customers’ minds. It’s amazing the power of knowing buying pattern and reorder rhythms can have on your customer loyalty. Sure, you could wait for a customer to call you about replenishment, but how do you know they won’t buy from somewhere else? With SMP, you eliminate the guesswork about what you should offer each customer in your calls, you save them time, you provide value, and you proactively take a sale off the street.

Sales is about timing: So much of what your customers do involves timing. Some of it may be related to seasonal demand. But in many cases, it could be related to warranties, recalls, regulation changes and more. Because SMP connects to all your sales and product data, creating a new marketing list of customers who need warranty information, replacement products, replenishment items, recall notices or upgrades is literally as easy as making a few clicks on data-rich visual dashboard.

In all these scenarios, integrating CRM with sales data allows distributors to have a holistic view of their customers. This not only helps in providing superior customer service but can also lead to increased sales through cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.

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