I know we all want to have customers that only call us and never quibble about price. I guess we need to wake up. Years ago you could build customer loyalty, but today I really wonder if it holds true anymore.
If you’re a manufacturer who sells through distribution, you have a double challenge—to keep both the distributor and user happy. The question is, where do you spend your time, the distributors or users? I guess the answer to that question will be different for all of us, but I think we all agree we need to spend the time building loyalty where it will make the biggest impact on sales.
My guess is for those who are looking to get to the professional tradesman, the best way to do that is to have a strong relationship with the distributors, who in turn have customer loyalty with the tradesman.
Yes, there are some iconic brands that have a great end-user preference, and hats off to those that have. But those numbers are a small percentage of the total. These folks, while we will envy them now, will, I believe, have a similar issue down the road when all the oldies (50 plus) get out of the business and the younger generation doesn’t value the loyalty card as much as the older generations.
No matter what avenue you choose to foster loyalty, there are some basic guidelines that need to be considered:
- They need to know, like and trust you - Without that, you will have an uphill battle, and it will take time.
- Make them your top priority – Back it up by having someone treat them like a key account that they are.
- Spend time with them belly button to belly button - You can build a relationship via emails.
- Not everything you’ll do results in a sale - Help them out whether it’s tech support or customer visits. Make them look like a hero.
- Under promise and over deliver - Folks remember those that go the actual extra mile.
- Show them you do care – Customers stop doing business with people because they have the perception of indifference. Send them a handwritten note or a copy of an industry article that would be relevant.
I’d be curious, for those who sell through a distribution channel, where do you focus your efforts? At distribution or the end-user?