- The initial introduction
- Fact-gathering by customer
- Pricing negotiation
- “The close”
While I am not quite sure which is most important I can assure you that the most under appreciated segment is right after the sale. You read it right; AFTER the sale. There is a common buyer behavior called “buyers remorse”. This occurs right after a significant purchase is made. It is the sub-conscious at work, questioning the decision “Did I buy the right thing? Should I have waited for a better deal? Should I return it while I still can?”
These are the types of questions we ask ourselves after a purchase – and it is a natural phenomenon, we are only human. As marketers, however, we have a weapon to fight this. It is called “purchase reinforcement“. The best marketers/sales people out there make a common practice to do a lot of “hand holding” with customers right after a purchase. The best car salespeople, realtors, furniture salespeople, etc. all make it a point to keep on working after the customer signs the agreement.
It can take many forms, from simply a follow-up letter, to free accessories (after the sale is final), follow up phone calls reminding the customer about service schedules, etc. A simple but effective tactic is to simply call the customers, and ask them how things are going after the purchase.
The key is to “pleasantly surprise” the customer with a little extra something that makes them think they made the wise, informed choice. Even more importantly it shows them you CARE – care enough to follow up with them to make sure all is going well. This will have a calming effect on the customer. It will help quiet that voice in the mind of the customer that is nagging them about the purchase.
Try building purchase reinforcement into the selling cycle for your product or service. Ask yourself, what little extra thing can I do to show the customer how important they are to me, and that they made a wise choice. If you do it well, you will be building long-term relationships with your customers. It gets you out of the mindset of “transactional” events versus relationship building activities.