A recent post on Inc.com by Geoffrey James entitled 7 Ways to Make Customers Love You outlined the top tips of customer-brand relationships as established by Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible and Dr. Earl Taylor, a master trainer at Dale Carnegie. These points run counter to the outdated hard sell “push the pitch” concept of sales that is wholly counterproductive in the new social media age, and should be applied by all online marketers working to create and maintain fulfilling sales relationships with your customer base.
Relationship-Building Takes Precedence over Closing
One of the primary points is that the process of relationship-building takes precedence over closing the sale. This may definitely seem like heresy to any marketer who was brought up in the age when it was drilled into the heads of any sales person that the single most important part of their job was to “ask for the sale.” In the social media sphere it is literally brand poison to even remotely address the question of making the sale at all. Sales is no longer a unilateral process where the customer is enticed by all means possible, even those that flutter at the edges of legitimacy as in the bad old days past. The onus now is on the foundation of a relationship between peers with mutual interests. Only if you see your brand as a provider and dispenser of authoritative information and the creator of communities will you succeed in the topsy-turvy world of social media.
Facilitate, Expedite, Streamline
Your brand should be a facilitator, an expediter and a streamliner. Your promotions should focus on the wonders of your particular industry market segment, focusing on how your products and services resolve problems and enhance your customer’s lifestyle. Contrary to what some of the “old timers” might think, this commitment to conversation is not pointless time wasting that does not result in any bottom line benefits. It is the way that sales are achieved in this decade. The minute that you cross the line into “OK, we’ve gabbed on enough, why don’t you get on over to checkout” you’ve lost the social media customer as well as the sale.
Failing to Live Up to Your Promises Is a Social Media Sin
Sales in the social media age is also not a case of hit and run, as the most significant aspect of any customer brand relationship is the permanence of the bonds that are created over the long run. The single most important five letter word in this new brand marketing scenario is not Sales but Trust. In order to build an imperturbable bond of trust with a customer, a brand needs to be reliable and responsible to the utmost degree and maintain that commitment to excellence day after day and year after year. The identity of your brand will be seen as an extension of your deeds, so you must be extremely specific as to what you intend to deliver and make sure that you only promise what you can actually legitimately achieve. Failing to live up to your promises is considered a social media cardinal sin so even though your customers will make a modicum of effort to understand if you fall short (especially if it is due to activities outside your control such as storms, strikes or blackouts), the best way to proceed is always to do what you said you’d do no matter what counter forces may come into play. In order to achieve these stellar levels of delivery on promises your contingency plans need contingency plans… but that’s what building a great brand is all about.
Your brand’s very vivid identity in the minds of your consumer base starts with your own belief about what your business is and what it can do for your customers. If you have an unshakable commitment to being the best that you can possibly be and you can imbue every aspect of your company with the same dedication, then that solid belief that your brand is a consummate leader, sterling corporate citizen and active social media participant will produce all the sales you’ll ever need.