Your company’s relationship with a client is like a human body –its health is a top priority, and maintaining it requires much attention and care. As a manager, make sure you schedule frequent checkups with your field representatives to ensure that those relationships are in tip-top shape. Here are three things to cover at your next appointment:
One of the major life lessons that I have learned, is the importance of managing expectations. Buddhism taught me that it’s better to refrain from setting high expectations, or any at all depending on the situation. This isn’t to say it’s good to have low expectations in life. It’s more about staying in touch with reality and avoiding major disappointments. This philosophy goes along with the wise adage, expect the worst but be prepared for the best. My teacher, VJ Sathyaraj told us that Buddhists believe this would lead to greater ‘happiness,’ and to be honest, this shift in my outlook on life has truly changed mine for the better. Managing customer expectations is very important in having a strong and healthy relationship. Your field reps know what they are capable of doing. Advise them to sell themselves ever so shortly to ensure they will be able to stick to their promise, and hopefully deliver more. Under-promise, over-deliver. There’s nothing better than hearing that things are going better than anticipated.
Another way to exceed customer expectations is to know what they want before they know they want it. Make sure your field reps are listening carefully to what their clients say and have them do some deliberating in between meetings. Having good insight is a key characteristic of a good field rep.
Strong communication is a given, but now let’s get into the specifics. How available are your field representatives to their clients? They should be just about as available as possible without it affecting their personal lives. A good metric you can use to measure this is the rate at which field reps respond to their emails. Replying to emails is not always a race, but taking too long to respond could give clients the idea that field reps are prioritizing other things over them. Responding right away may not be the answer either, depending on the context of the email. If a client emails you with a major concern, and you respond within minutes, it can make them feel as if you did not really take your time to fully think about their concern.
Communication is a two-way street. When your clients are communicating, how well are your field reps listening? Advise your field reps to reiterate your clients concerns to show that they are present, they are alert, and that they care. Repeating important things helps field representatives remember what their main focus and goal is too. With a busy schedule and lots of dialogue, sometimes it’s easy to lose track of the true end-goal.
Meeting with field reps should be something that clients look forward to doing, whether it is on a weekly, monthly, or semi-annual basis. One way to accomplish this is to infuse some charisma into your field reps. Make sure that they are adding an aspect separate from their business transaction to every conversation. Asking about a client’s holiday plans and following up the next time you meet them can mean a lot to a client. Entrepreneur contributor, Joel Brown, says that remembering and repeating things about a client is a form of complimenting that boosts your charisma. Keep all conversations positive and try to stay away from anything too personal. Adding a non-business aspect of conversation keeps it fun for the field rep too. Another way to ensure a field rep’s charisma is making sure they are exuding confidence through their body language. It may sound silly, but try practicing ‘power stances’ with your field reps. “If you stand in a Superman pose…tall with your chin up, your feet shoulder-width apart, with your hands on your hips and are looking up towards the sky and you hold this for a few minutes, this is scientifically proven to alter your state and raise your level of confidence,” says Forbes contributor Annie Pace Scranton. Not only will this boost your field reps’ confidence, but it will grow your relationship with them too as you do something that feels rather stupid together. In addition to the superman pose, focus on eye-contact. Being able to hold good eye-contact is another sign of confidence.
Focusing on these three things at your next appointment is sure to maintain healthy customer relationships!