Create an Environment That Develops Customers for Life …

Cindy Cyr here, with your final edition of The Writer's Life this week.

This week has been all about the taboo subject: “selling.”

As a writer and owner of a freelance business, you have to constantly sell yourself to get clients, generate income, and keep customers for life.

The best way to sell yourself is to develop qualities that will keep your customers around for as long as you want to keep them.

Having been in sales for more than 17 years now, I’ve developed a list of things I try to do based on what my customers have said they like about me and on what I’ve seen and read from top sales people. From my list, here are 12 things you can do to win customers and keep them:

  1. Always have a contagious positive attitude. I know you’ve heard this before, but that is because it is vitally important. People break off friendships over negativity, so imagine what a client will do when you are negative. Plus, always remember, part of having a positive attitude is never complaining about anything.
  2. Show excitement about helping your prospect’s business and about helping them succeed. Be enthusiastic about their success, and be both their cheerleader and advisor when they need one.
  3. Be confident, not arrogant. Make up your mind to achieve whatever you set your mind to. Let your customers see a “determined to succeed” attitude along with self-assurance in your abilities without seeming like you can do no wrong.
  4. Demonstrate your ability to assess and solve problems. Be able to look at real-world problems, prioritize what needs to be done and what can wait, and provide solutions.
  5. Have fun and be happy. Have you ever noticed how magnetic fun people are? Smile. Find joy. See the humor in things and you’ll be one of them.
  6. Be likeable and welcoming. Create a rapport that makes people feel like they could come to your house, kick their shoes off, help themselves to food from the fridge, and feel right at home.
  7. Give 110% and do your best EVERY time. Several months ago, Rebecca Matter posted a reminder on Facebook about always turning in your best work. This came after she received a piece of copy from a writer who was not new to AWAI and turned in something less than what she knew they were capable of. Long-time customers will get accustomed to your best. Once you stop giving it, they may decide it’s time to find someone new who is excited about their products and/or services.
  8. Have integrity. Always be honest and ethical in everything you do. Keep your word and never do the slightest thing that casts doubt. Be aware of little white lies, jokes, or stories that may paint you as less than honest.
  9. Don’t cast blame. This is especially important when and if you make a mistake. If you make a mistake, let the client know what the mistake was and your suggestions for solving the problem.
  10. Keep organized. Keep things in order and be detailed (but not obsessive). This helps you run things error-free and builds your client’s confidence in you.
  11. Make the customer feel like you are in business with him. Make your customers feel like they are your only customer—or better yet, like their success is as important to you as if you were a business partner.
  12. Avoid telling your client about the difficulties you are encountering. Maybe you’re having personal problems or are having technical difficulties with your computer. Whatever the case, your prospect doesn’t care about your problems.

    When you share them, you are not only wasting their time, but you are setting yourself up as an “excuse person” or a “complainer.” This casts doubts in you and your ability and can severely damage your credibility.

Staying congruent with this list isn’t always easy for me. There are times I bite my tongue to keep from saying the wrong thing or spend extra time rewriting a piece that I know should be better. But I can tell you it’s worth it.

Keep this list near you and work on developing these qualities. Soon many will become second nature and you'll start feeling better about yourself.

Your customers will love you for it. And when customers love you, that usually means they will feed you projects, offer you new opportunities, and often refer you to others too.

Do you have a quality I should add to my list? Share it with me here.

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Published: January 6, 2012

3 Responses to “Create an Environment That Develops Customers for Life…”

  1. Great list, Cindy!

    Some of these should go without saying, but here they are anyway!

    Always respect other people's time Never miss a deadline Submit your work error-free Provide regular status updates, as appropriate Give a little more than what's expected Express gratitude Care deeply about them AND the work

    Guest (LA)January 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm

  2. Great list! I would add: request feedback from clients and be open to any criticisms they may have. Even though you may have an excellent working relationship, there could be things that would help the client even more, but if you don't ask, they might not come up.

    Guest (Janet Runeson)January 7, 2012 at 1:27 am

  3. Hi Cindy, Wonderful article! May I add a thought or two to your excellent points?
    Be a Listener…Customers will tell you exactly what you need to know to persuade them to purchase your product or service if you let them. The key is….. Let them!
    When two people are having a conversation, the exchange is often a back and forth affair, where one person says “I feel this” or “I’m always that”, and the other conversant replies, “Oh, well I feel this”, or “I believe that.” Both persons spend most of their time hoping to get their point, feelings, or opinion across, and neither is convinced that the other is really listening.
    In a sales situation, I have always found that it is much more profitable to follow the customer’s statement with something like “Really? Say more” or, “If I understand you correctly, you are saying….” Soon, (usually on the third try), they will tell you what is

    Guest (Mark Prince)January 7, 2012 at 2:12 pm


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