Have you made yourself essential to your veterinary practice’s business?
I subscribe to a handful of daily and weekly blogs in the marketing and customer service fields (that I often fall far behind in actually reading) but one popped up in my inbox the other day from blogger Seth Godin that was short, to-the-point, and really made me think. It simply asked: “If your customers had to stop using your product or service tomorrow, how much would they miss it? How easy are you to replace? How deep are the habits, how essential are the interactions? Being missed when you’re gone is a worthy objective.”
To put it another way, what are you doing to set yourself apart and really matter to your customers and make it clear that they matter to you?
Today’s consumers have almost instant access to information 24/7. Product details, comparisons, fast shipping and cheaper prices are often just a couple of taps or clicks away, without the need to ever talk to a sales rep. Adding value and meaning at every interaction with your customers is essential to giving them a reason to do business with you. Today, traditional sales skills and tactics must be replaced by finding out what’s most important to your customers and then making sure you provide that at every opportunity.
Get interested in their business
Being an inside sales rep, it may seem difficult to put yourself in your customers’ shoes, so to speak, but in reality you have a real advantage when it comes to connecting with your clients on a personal level. One of the best ways to make people feel like they matter is simply to ask questions and have a genuine interest in understanding their business, day-to-day operations, and the problems and issues they face. As the market changes and new products and services become available, you’ll have the knowledge to be a valued asset to their business over the long term. Ask your clients for honest feedback about doing business with you and your company, then use that information to create an even better customer experience.
Along with those valuable conversations, take advantage of technology to get to know your clients. While it once seemed to be moving towards the impersonal, technology is giving us the ability to better understand our customers. Use their purchase history, not only as a way to learn their product preferences and buying trends, but to find any gaps you’re able to fill, and promotions and savings opportunities they may not be taking advantage of. Checking out your clinics’ websites or Facebook pages may give you insights into their business and how you can help impact their success.
The best customer service strategy is meeting the expectations of your clients as individuals, and once you understand what they value and the specifics of what benefits their business, you can consistently exceed their expectations.
Flexibility and a broad base of knowledge are more important than ever in today’s changing animal health environment, so take advantage of those manufacturer meetings, webinars, product detailers and online resources that provide regular, concise updates on a variety of animal health issues. Bookmark the websites and download the apps you find helpful so you can check them when you have a few minutes to spare.
Take advantage of every opportunity to increase your knowledge beyond your company’s product lines. Understand market conditions and how their fluctuations affect profitability for both your practitioners and their producers. Staying informed about issues that impact your customers and then putting that information to work takes time and effort, but is well worth the competitive advantage you’ll gain when you expand your knowledge of the industry and can contribute valuable insights.
Certainly, everyone wants to save money, but for many buyers and practitioners time is just as valuable, so make it easy for your customers to do business with you. Once again, just ask what matters to them. What days of the week or time of day do they prefer to order or for you to contact them? Do they prefer over the phone, by email, by text? Are they still using a fax machine? (No doubt there are still a few!) If they’re new to web ordering with your company, would they like a walk-through? Can you save the clinic staff time and resources by drop-shipping to producers or setting up online or automatic orders? Since you’ve taken the time to learn what’s most important to the practice, you’ll always be prepared with information on the products and promotions that will be of benefit or save them money to make the ordering process as effortless as possible.
There is no downside to taking the time and effort to build closer relationships with your customers and learning how you can help contribute to their success. A Genesys customer survey found the reason 70 percent of customers leave – in other words, give their business to a competitor – is because they weren’t made to feel like they mattered. A typical sales rep focuses on how much they can sell. A knowledgeable, consultative sales professional and trusted resource consistently goes above and beyond customer expectations and quality service.
There are no shortcuts to mattering to your customers. Any sales rep can fill an order from a want list. To build great relationships with your customers, put your effort into the things that can’t be crossed off the list. The value you provide with every customer interaction and your desire to help buyers with issues, challenges and opportunities … not an easy thing to replace!