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Second only to the sale itself, the most important part of the selling process is the after-sale service. Do a good job and you're virtually guaranteed repeat business--plus countless recommendations. Here are some hints for top after-sales service techniques:

*Call. A week or two after the sale or delivery, call the customer. Don't try to sell anything else. Rather, thank them, ask whether they have any questions or concerns, and let them know your hours of availability.

*Act. If the customer has a concern, address it immediately. Put in writing what you're going to do and send it to the customer. For example, "I've contacted ABC Software on your behalf. They promised to send a disk to fix the problem by February 15."

*Offer a personal guarantee. Go beyond the manufacturers' guarantee. If something goes wrong that's not covered and you can fix it for a minimal cost or repair it at no charge.

*Be available. Be sure customers have your pager, voice-mail and fax numbers, and e-mail address. Your fax should be on a separate line from your phone and in operation 24 hours a day. Excluding weekends and emergencies, you should get back to customers within 24 hours.

*Back off. Don't smother your customers. Let them know you're available, but if you've called to see whether they liked the product and told them you're available, don't send a follow-up letter stating the same things. Otherwise, you'll quickly mutate from a concerned salesperson into a pest.

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