07. 08. 2019

How to find and retain a customer? Part 1 – The first contact

How to find and retain your customer? These are two completely interconnected categories that lead to the merchant’s success. Both, in my opinion, are linked by one fundamental term of “trust”. We often hear the general sentence: “Trust is difficult to obtain and even more difficult it is to maintain”. So how do you become a trustworthy/credible and successful trader/merchant?

Everything is, in my opinion, enchanted in an individual nature and appropriate communication with the customer. Yes, it seems simple, and it is based on the competence to be a healthy self-confident trader. It is not possible to play a theatre – it is immediately recognizable even if the person does not admit it.

Let’s start from the first contact, which should lead to agreement on the next meeting. Nothing more and nothing less. A common mistake of a trader/merchant is to overwhelm a business partner immediately with all the information he needs to provide. He/she will surely come to this if he/she is patient and gives the partner time to decide whether to continue the business in a meaningful way. Yes, this patience is confronted with a schedule of business meetings that need to be done as many as possible – there are so many opportunities around, aren´t there? So where do you get enough time for the right one?

Here comes the choice of a suitable – potentially most attractive customer, to whom we then devote enough time. This is related to the trader’s preparation and market knowledge.

Imagine a forest full of mushrooms, for example. Someone is perfectly knowledgeable in many species and every mushroom found has some value for him. The inedible learn and consolidate his/her knowledge of what they look like, in the edible he/she decides according to their condition whether to take them and whether they are suitable for the processing that he/she has planned. The layman collects only those where he/she is sure of their safety, but it is only a narrow selection of possibilities that the forest offers him/her. It may happen that he/she does not pick up a much tastier mushroom only because he/she does not know it. Yes, it is primarily about the knowledge and experience. And decisive for the right choice is which forest, what place and what time we choose and go to collect mushrooms.

The very same thing is, in my opinion, the market opportunities and trader´s activities. His/her knowledge of the market and preparation for the meeting with the customer determines his/her success and increases the possibility of finding the „right one“ at first contact and even the setting up a trustworthy communication. „At first contact“ means addressing the customer and requesting him/her a meeting. This can be done either in person at a meeting at a social event or, for example, at a conference. You can also address him/her by a letter or message after you have searched for his/her contact address.

At the first meeting, the sales person should first sell himself/herself and thus arouse customer’s interest in communicating with him/her. This point decides on the continuation. Sometimes this is naturally easy, because you and your customer “fall into your eyes”. The challenge is if there is a customer facing you who is uncomfortable for you from the very beginning and not only due to his/her questions. Then you will find out whether you are able to adjust this seemingly unsolvable situation (in the case of the forest an unknown mushroom) and make it even the best business case (in the case of the forest a delicacy. 🙂)

It is also important to remain in an active position and continue successfully after the first meeting. This means not breaking apart without the agreement what happens next. It is advisable to have the customer’s agreement with the date of the next meeting, phone call, or what will happen next. By this, you can avoid waiting and making decisions, which can be a big complication for the continuing communication. Certainly, it is necessary and essential always to keep the agreed promises. By doing so, you strengthen your credibility and, on the other hand, you will find out, according to the customer’s subsequent reaction, how important it is for him/her to negotiate with you.

How to find and retain a customer? The subsequent quote and reference present the opinion of one of the most experienced businessman.

“Let us only do the work that serves the public. Business is a service to the people. The more thoroughly the trader understands this truth, the more he will expand the circle of people who will be interested in business connections.” Tomáš Baťa

How to further evaluate the situation and how to proceed in the negotiation with the customer after the first meeting I will describe next time. See you in a week!

Do you want to ask a question or add something? Feel free to write me!