Customer relationships start at the close

Paul Nolan

There is a lot of talk and training in sales about prospecting and closing, but less is said about what happens after the sale. The post-sale relationship is a Bermuda Triangle for many companies — customers are lost and no one can quite figure out why.

“The road to sales greatness is paved on world-class delivery and effective follow-up,” says Kelly Riggs, a business performance coach who blogs at “Effective follow-up is a crucial part of a salesperson’s success because it can produce new connections, lead referrals and the opportunity for business in other departments, divisions or locations.”

Riggs offers these tips for effective follow-up:

•   Ensure that the installation/implementation process is completed successfully. Many sales are “dead on arrival” — and future sales are sacrificed — because delivery of the product/service is rife with minor issues and poor communication that erode the trust you have worked so hard to develop. This can largely be avoided by overseeing the process and being proactive in communicating with the customer.

•   Own your customers’ problems. Too many salespeople are intimidated by the prospect of a problem once a sale is made and the result is a significant loss of credibility in the eyes of the customer. One huge mistake is to pass blame off to another department — shipping or accounting, for example. Remember, in the eyes of the customer,you are the company. Take responsibility, handle the problem, and ensure the customer is satisfied.

•   Begin the process of delivering the next sale. Connect your customer to other customers, network contacts or other resources. Look for information that your customer will find useful and valuable and make sure they receive it.

“Great salespeople sell more than a product or service, they sell themselves,” says Riggs. “To do that, they look for ways to benefit the customer beyond the product/service they provide — creating connections and resources that provide additional value to the customer. The payoff is enormous when customers observe that you are someone who takes care of business.”