CRM Sales Tips

Before you even think about picking up that phone, prepare yourself for a successful customer interaction.

We’re lucky to live in an age where we can communicate in any number of ways. We can text, email, Snapchat, video conference or – if you’re the vintage sort – dare to speak in person.

Whatever your preferred medium for interaction, customer communication is probably a large part of your business strategy. After all, when it comes to customer service, reaching out is a great way for small businesses to show they care and are truly vested in making clients happy. But before you even think about picking up that phone, you should prepare yourself for the interaction ahead. Consider these four tips before reaching out:

Prepare your pitch

We’re best positioned to serve our customers when we have a true understanding of their needs. Understanding where your client is in the product cycle can prove to be invaluable. And, so, it’s helpful to preempt a phone call by doing a little research on whether their inventory is in the introduction, growth, maturity or decline stage. If a client just upgraded, for instance, your conversation will be much different than your chat with someone whose technology is outdated. There’s always an opportunity to make a sale when you’re presenting the appropriate product or service. Whether they’re due for an upgrade, add on, or different product, you’ll be ready to give yourself the best chance for success with the perfect pitch.

Even if you’re not reaching out to a current customer, it’s still important to learn where they are in the product cycle with your competitor’s product—or if they currently don’t have a solution at all. This can help ensure you’re presenting them with the right products and services to best meet their needs.

Consider previous interactions

Customers love to feel like they’re part of the family. A great way to keep that bond feeling familial is to familiarize yourself with each customer and any previous interactions you’ve had. Consider implementing a small business contact management or customer relationship management tool to keep track of client communications. This will make it easy for you to reference notes or get a refresher on a previous conversation, before making that follow-up call. Customers always appreciate speaking with someone who is familiar with their history, needs and goals. And of course, knowing your company hasn’t forgotten about them makes a customer feel valued. It also demonstrates that you’re committed to your business, organized and genuinely care about customer satisfaction.

Know the challenges

We can’t find a solution to something if we don’t know the problem. Before reaching out to a customer, research the biggest obstacles facing his or her company. Take some time to analyze and assess your database in order to identify those challenges. You can review previous conversation logs, prior business interactions, or even past surveys to gain insight. Learning about a company’s short and long-term needs can have a variety of benefits. First, it demonstrates that you understand and care about their goals and challenges. From a sales perspective, it can also help you deliver a customized pitch on a product that could truly benefit your client. Think about what products could help them next week, next quarter and even next year. If it seems your products or services can’t solve a customer’s problems, that’s okay, there’s still value in connecting to see how you might help in the future.

Know their customer’s needs

By now, you probably have a good handle on the importance of knowing your customers. But it’s not just them you need to familiarize yourself with. After all, in a roundabout sort of way, you’re serving your customer’s customers too. Your product or service is going to directly help your customers assist their own crowd of potential buyers. With this in mind, remember to think about their needs. For example, if you sell retail artwork and you’re selling to a retail clothing boutique, consider the type of customers who might frequent your client’s shop. Are they the jeans and T-shirt type, or looking are they looking for something a little more formal? Based on that knowledge, you’ll know what your customer’s clients are looking for, helping to determine what your own customer seeks.

In short, preparation is key when it comes to customer communication. As a wise woman once said: “Make a customer, not a sale.” This succinct advice from entrepreneur Katherine Barchetti sums it up perfectly. If we effectively and meaningful engage with our customers, the sales will come naturally.