Regardless of your company, industry, or average customer sales cycle, one thing is for sure: the transactional experiences that are easiest for customers always win. It simply matters how taken care of your customers feel throughout the process, and how easy you've made it for them to order and communicate with you.
I integrated the power of a great transactional experience with a "two-hour roast and ship" policy: when someone places a coffee order through my company, JavaPresse, we roast the grounds and ship within two hours. It doesn't matter so much what you're selling.
Ensuring that every step of the sales cycle goes smoothly and supports the customer is imperative for closing the sale, keeping their business, and getting customer referrals. Take stock of how your own transactional experience can be improved with the following pieces of advice.
1. Be transparent.
With my company, JavaPresse, I've found that being over-communicative is the best way to prove transparency. Customers don't mind getting several text messages or email notifications if it's about where their package is en route to them.
Beyond just shipping data, be open and transparent about other aspects of your company. Perhaps for you, it's worth it to consider creating a packet of case studies based on real past customers or clients. Or the data might just be all the additional information about your product--the nutritional contents, all the costs associated with the program, how long it may take for the software to work, you name it. Any caveats your customers may have questions about should have answers that are clear and easy to find.
2. Train your employees for exceptional customer service.
If your team is larger than just you, make sure all your employees and team members have been trained on how to give exceptional customer service. At my company, I make sure everyone who converses with customers is trained in just this. That way, if a potential customer calls with a question or gets on a sales call with one of them, they feel well taken care of.
Creating a packet of customer service values, such as "going above and beyond for customers," can orient team members in the right disposition for all of their communications with potential customers. This is critically important, as the results of bad customer service are dire. A study from 2013 found that 95 percent of people who had a bad customer service experience tell at least one person about the bad experience. And 54 percent tell at least five people.
3. Seek to understand your customer's goals on the sales call.
Recently, there's been a big movement towards a "relational" experience, beyond the "transactional." And while the customer is, indeed, making a transaction by making a purchase from you, this "relational" part is an important investment.
In a "relational experience," the salesperson seeks to understand the specific goals of the customer and create alignment between the product or service and the customer's goals. Using phrases such as "I understand" and repeating their goals back to them will help the customer feel that you're creating a long-term relationship with them as opposed to just looking for a sale. My sales team first seeks to understand the customer's coffee needs and habits before sharing a recommendation on any type of product. This is how we make sure we are relational.
4. Be as responsive as possible.
Finally, make sure that you and your team are accessible and responsive during the sales cycle (and their entire life cycle as your customer). It's a priority for my company to make sure customers always have an easy way to contact us and get their questions answered, whether they're first comparing coffee grinders or if they've placed their order and have a pressing question. When they're first looking to buy is when they're most likely to have a number of questions, and they can easily choose not to proceed with a purchase if you're hard to get a hold of.
This extends to all ways potential and current customers can get in touch with you, even in places like the reviews on Yelp, comments on Instagram, direct emails, and tweets on Twitter. Other potential customers observe, too. If comments posing questions on your company's social-media pages go unanswered, it seems that you don't care about helping your customers. And if a potential customer is ready to move forward with a contract or a big purchase with you and you take five days to answer a question, they will likely infer that it doesn't matter to you.
The transactional experience, simply put, matters greatly. Aim to give a top-notch experience to every customer you work with through transparency, team-wide customer service, emphasizing a relational experience, and being as responsive as possible.