Second Time Around

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3. Keep those cards and outrageous gifts coming. Under the category of advertising and promotions, never underestimate the power of gift-giving to ensure repeat business. My dad received more client gifts every Christmas than any other person I have ever known. People valued his business and showed their appreciation with cheese baskets, leather-bound almanacs with his name engraved on the cover, clocks, and special jellies and preserves. He loved every minute he spent opening the gifts and explaining to my mother and me who gave him such special mementos.

You don't have to spend a fortune to show people you care. If you are high on creativity but low on funds, you can still come up with some interesting gifts for your customers.

4. Post-sale problem solvers. No matter how good your product is, complaints and problems will arise. How you handle those problems can make or break your chances for repeat business. A few suggestions on pleasing the unpleasable:

  • Let customers vent their feelings. Encourage them to get their frustrations out in the open.
  • Never argue with a customer.
  • Never tell a customer "You do not have a problem." Those are fighting words.
  • Share your point of view as politely as you can.
  • Don't delay taking action to remedy the situation.
  • Imagine you're the one with the complaint. How would you want the situation to be handled?

This month's rules for maintaining a good "marriage" with your customers should give you a better shot at long-term relationships . . . and lots of repeat business.

Danielle Kennedy presents sales and marketing seminars and keynote addresses worldwide and is the author of seven sales books as well as audio and video sales training programs. Check local bookstores for her latest book, Seven Figure Selling.

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This article was originally published in the May 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Second Time Around.

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