From the Center for Strategic Relations, a twice-monthly supplement to Applying Strategic Relations, mailed at your request

Get Employees Building Relationships

In the last issue you learned about your responsibility as an executive in building business relationships. This issue expands on item #6, "Make employees responsible for success and failure," from the responsibilities in that issue.

Remember, it's people who create business relationships , but how do you get employees involved in cultivating profitable relationships. Today's lesson will outline a few of those strategies to get you started.

In the next lesson get an uncomfortable look at one of the most harmful conflicts in employee relationships . September is dedicated to healing this rift to recover the thousands this conflict is inadvertently costing you each year.

In your service,

Justin Hitt
Consultant, Author & Speaker

Ps. Since the last issue 134 new readers joined us , welcome to this community of business-to-business professionals. You are encouraged to write with your questions about creating and keeping customers. This is your publication. Thank you for your participation.

Who Else Wants To Get Employees Involved In Building Profitable Customer Relationships?

By Justin Hitt, Strategic Relations Consultant,

No plan for building customer relationships will work without employee actions and implementation. It's worse when some employee behavior repels potentially profitable customers. To prevent this problem, here's what to do to get employees involved in building customer relationships:

  1. Take time to appreciate the customers you already have. (This is the most controversial concept ever shared, because it takes time away from new accounts to cultivate business relationships. )� Your ability to retain and resell the customers you already have can double your return on marketing investment, while adding solid revenue to your bottom line.

    Actions to take:

    1. Spend a month reselling existing customers, for that period, don't seek any new business.
    2. Visit existing customers with a gift of appreciation to say "thank you" for their business, trust, and consideration.
    3. Take small actions that are meaningful to customer in helping them get more from the services they already purchase.

    Spending time with existing buyers gives customers the attention they desire, and staff insights necessary to serve customers better. Either take one month a year, or dedicate a few employees year around to customer retention for maximum results.

  2. Connect customers to employees to results. This could be as simple as a picture of your sales person with a happy customer in front of results created through your solution. Help employees connect with the result of their efforts.

    Actions to take:

    1. Display pictures of customers with employees in your sales office, share them during presentations, and send copies to customers.
    2. Add meaning to case studies, encourage employees to profile customer results, pictures provide proof and makes documents more believable.
    3. Create other physical proof of your value to customers, including third-party evidence; use these materials for employee training, and in marketing efforts.

    As much as this helps prospective customers connect your value with results, these photographs help employees related to customers. Be sure to get a release from your customers before distributing or using these pictures in marketing.

  3. Make interactions points a place for education and sales at all levels. Everyone in your company is capable of helping along the sales process. Provide employees with training that makes it easy for them to educate or sell at every interaction point.

    Actions to take:

    1. Show employees how to refer between departments and generate qualified leads for your sales department.
    2. Use tips, reference materials, and fact sheets as follow on tools to check on customer status (and educate them about solutions you offer. )
    3. Include front-line employees across your company in product specific training, even if it's not part of their specific job description.

    When employees know more about your products, customers, and are comfortable as a part of the business, they provide better service. Helping employees look good in front of customers improves individual self esteem and job satisfaction, both factors necessary for buy-in.

  4. Use specific measures to reward employees for high customer satisfaction. Use surveys, purchase metrics, and account value to reward teams who keep customers. Make tracking easy and in process rather than something else employees must do.

    Actions to take:

    1. Automate measures of satisfaction after every customer interaction using basic response tracking, surveys, and follow up.
    2. Start with basic sales measures that associate individual actions with results.
    3. Study employee behavior with customers and how that relates to achieve desired business objectives, connect what employees what with what you want.

    When employees know they are being measured, they tend to focus on doing what makes them look good. Be sure measures influence the results you desire, are meaningful, and create progress towards clear business objectives.

  5. Help employees get smarter about things customers desire. Using front line feedback, create a community of experts rather than just employees. When employees are experts in their jobs, industry, and customers; they derive greater job satisfaction which translates into better service.

    Actions to take:

    1. Use internal surveys to monitor, collect, and measure new ideas to improve that business. Take time to test these ideas.
    2. Encourage training outside of core job functions, even if it makes an employee more desirable to the competition.
    3. Pay fair wages, provide excellent benefits, and listen to employees desires to keep the great ones.

    Competent employees are necessary for relationships that create and keep customers. What are you doing to attract the very best? Personal growth initiatives help good employees become great in both their business and personal lives.

Profitable business relationships aren't created with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, fancy tools, or mission statement; these relationships are built by employees taking action towards clear objectives . Use these strategies to cultivate employees who are equipped and involved in relationship growth.

Which of these strategies can you get started with right away?

© 2005 JWH Consolidated LLC dba Center for Strategic Relations, All rights reserved.
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