Any good salesperson knows how to turn on the charm when they’re first approaching a potential new client. But it’s easy to butter someone up. What’s difficult is keeping them coming back for more, and beyond that, inspiring them to refer their friends and business partners to you.
We’re all hard-wired to say ‘thank you’ when someone gives us something or does something for us. After “hello,” it’s the first phrase we learn when we travel to a foreign language-speaking country. But do we really mean it every time we utter a “thank you,” ”‘gracias,” or”merci?”
Whether you’re courting a new client or working within a long-term contract, gratitude works wonders for keeping business channels flowing. And when clients, customers, and employees are happy, business is usually growing. Just remember these important points when expressing your appreciation.
- Be Genuine. Saying “thank you”can be very simple, as long as it’s honest. When you send an invoice to a client, add a personal note with a message of thanks. After a meeting, shoot out an email to say you appreciate their time and enjoyed the conversation. When it’s appropriate, send a handwritten thank you note. Make that easy on yourself by keeping stamps and stationary handy, and it’ll only take a minute or two to send a personal message that won’t go unnoticed.
- Give Kudos Online If your company has a Facebook page, it’s easy to say thank you by doing your business partners a simple favor. Let’s say you’re a wedding planner, and you just met with a florist who may be a possible long-term partner. It doesn’t take any time to put up a quick post saying, ‘Just met with Susie from the Main Street Florist. Their spring arrangements are amazing!’ You may not have confirmed the deal at the meeting, but after Susie sees you pay her a public compliment, she’s bound to like you all the more.Of course, once you do establish a working relationship, make sure to link to Main Street Florist on your website. A ‘Links’ page of friends and business partners publicly expresses your trust in them and says thank you for their role in your company.
- Keep Them Happy Remember when all banks gave out lollipops? Mine still does, and although I rarely grab one, I appreciate the gesture. It puts me in a good mood when I approach the teller, and even though it’s a small thing, it makes the bank feel local, like a part of the community.The same kind of thing happened last week at a craft market. My wife was looking at one artisan’s beaded necklaces, when I noticed a plate of chocolates there on the table. I had been anxious to move on, but now I stepped closer to the table. With me willing to stand there a minute longer and give feedback, my wife ended up buying a necklace she might have walked away from.
Of course, there’s more to marketing than free candy, but every little thing helps. Any time you give away something (and chocolates and lollipops don’t cost much), it opens a door in people’s minds. They relax and stay a moment longer — the moment that might make all the difference between a potential customer and a sale.
- Stay in Touch, But Don’t Pester. A monthly email or print newsletter is a great way to stay in touch with customers and clients, but it’s ground that should be walked softly upon. The last thing you want to do is annoy people and have them grow accustomed to deleting your emails.A first tip is to grow your email list from scratch, with people who have provided you their address – then you’re guaranteed to be hitting your key audience. Secondly, offer these faithful customers a coupon or discount. For the record, 10 percent off is hardly appealing in this era of half-off daily deals. Pick one item to steeply discount, or give 25 percent off any item in your store, menu, or services. You’ll soon have email recipients chomping at the bit for your next message to arrive.
It’s impossible to put a monetary figure on a thank you. When it comes to building lasting business relationships, showing gratitude is invaluable. However you do the math, saying thank you is always good for your bottom line.
Christopher Wallace, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, has more than 20 years experience in sales and marketing. At Amsterdam, a leading provider of personalized promotional items such as imprinted apparel and customized calendars, Christopher is focused on providing quality marketing materials to small, mid-size and large businesses.
image by flickr user Steve Snodgrass