Closing a sale opens a door.
Congratulations! You closed a sale! Now what will you do for your customer?
Closing the sale is not the end of the sales process. It’s the halfway point. Next up, you need a plan for how you will interact with your paying customers. How often will you communicate? Who will call upon them? By phone, email, newsletter, or website?
Your goal is to turn your paying customers into “raving, lunatic fans” of your company. Advocates who love your company so much, they will take the time to talk to prospective customers. Ideally, they will be so happy that they will tell their friends and colleagues about your company, raising awareness and causing incoming sales calls.
This may sound crazy, but, if done well, it actually happens.
On the consumer side, this is how Facebook reached one billion members; how Lexus became a top, trusted luxury brand; and how fads like Pokémon spread so quickly across the world.
For services that sell to businesses, this is how Pullman grew to be the leader in luxury rail cars; how Salesforce.com became the biggest cloud-based service; and how “no one ever got fired for buying IBM.”
I’ve seen this happen in my own startup. We were selling software to wireless carriers, a ruthlessly competitive market. My second customer was a huge fan of our product. With nothing to gain, he agreed to talk to one of our giant prospective customers. One of his direct competitors. Given the competition, we couldn’t reveal who he was, nor who the customer worked for, when setting up a call between Mr. A and Mr. B. It was quite an odd sales call, but it helped close the sale.
How do you get such fans of your own? Do not treat them like customers. Treat them like long-term business partners.
What can you do to make your customer’s business thrive? What can you do to make your customer a hero within his/her company? What other problems are on your customer’s priority list that you can solve?
In short, continue talking with your customer. Ideally, for your biggest customers, talk to them face-to-face. Invite them out for lunch or dinner. Make a point to meet with them at your industry’s big conference or trade show.
If you are selling a high-priced product, then you should have people on your sales team whose job it is to make your customers happy. The common title for this is “Account Manager.”
The Account Manager is the “farmer” on your sales team, as discussed in Chapter S6. As you grow your startup, you will eventually offer more products or enhanced services. What you will find is that it is much easier to make additional sales to your existing customers than it is to go find a new customer. The more your customers love your company, the easier these follow-on sales will be.
If, however, you are selling a low-priced product, then you likely can’t afford Account Managers. But that doesn’t mean you can’t afford to keep your customers happy. It is far easier to keep your existing customers happy, turning them into larger or repeat customers later, than it is to find new customers. Thus, even with a low-priced product, you should create a plan today on how to delight customers after the sale and ensure that someone is responsible for those tasks as soon as the first customer has closed.
Lastly, you’ll likely have to treat the first few customers especially well. Don’t get caught in a trap of treating all subsequent customers the same way. As your sales grow, measure the cost of acquiring a customer, including the expenses involved in keeping that customer happy.