How do you gain customer loyalty? You begin by deepening and broadening your customer relationships.

Building a strong, lasting sales relationship is one of the most beneficial things you will ever do as a salesperson. Experts say it takes seven times the amount of energy and effort to obtain a new customer as it takes to keep an existing customer happy.

We all know that our good customers give us the greatest financial return for our time invested. It pays, therefore, to spend some time thinking about how to deepen your relationships and avoid losing customers to the competition.


Up Close and In Person

The fastest, most effective way to extend the relationship past the transfer of goods and services is meeting customers face to face. This means focusing on building a local customer base.

Everyone's familiar with the slogan, "Ding dong, Avon calling." This cosmetic company's culture is to send their sales representatives out to build a neighborhood client base by going door to door. For over a hundred years, this company has understood that direct selling is about people connecting to people. If you were to ask one of their customers what makes them different than other cosmetic companies, you're likely to hear that it's the relationship they have with their personal cosmetic representative. Relationships create loyalty.

People are used to purchasing products they can see, touch, smell and hear. They want you to tell them about the benefits of your product in person. They want to be shown how to use the product properly, and physically touch what they are about to buy. With the Internet becoming more and more popular, the need to maintain human contact is more critical than ever. It is twice as difficult to establish a relationship online than it is in person and it takes twice as long.

A survey from the Ernst and Young accounting firm said most businesses felt the personal relationship with the customer was only ten percent of the buying decision. When customers were asked the identical question, they said it was 70 percent!

How do you like to be sold? How much customer loyalty can you expect from your buyers if all they are is a User Name and Password on a computer screen?


Relationship-Building Habits

There are many ways to maintain loyalty from customers. Here are a few good ideas to help strengthen customer relationships:

Be creative. There are many neat, unusual ideas you can use to deepen relationships. While none of these strategies is guaranteed, a wise combination will make it extremely difficult for your customers to stop buying from you.

The bottom line: realize that the closer the relationship you have with your customers, the better the odds that they will remain loyal.

If I'm suggesting that you build a deeper, more intimate relationship with your customers, you're probably thinking, Hey, that could take some time! You're right. It does. The nice thing about it is that you need only a few really loyal customers to make a small passive income.

Then duplicate the model in your organization--and add up the dollars.


DAWN SIEBOLD is co-founder of the Gove-Siebold Group (, a training organization that helps networkers develop world-class communication skills.