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Sales reps add personal touches to job

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In good times or bad, sales representatives at Hudson Awning & Sign Co. Inc. in Bayonne, N.J., try for these “touches” with customers:

  • When a sale closes, they send customers a hand-written thank-you note.
  • After workers install a job, the salesperson visits the site, or at least phones, to ask for the customer’s feedback.
  • When a salesperson is in a customer’s neighborhood, she makes a point of stopping in just to say hello.
  • Salespeople frequent customers’ restaurants or businesses. Hudson Awning owners Ed and Lynda Burak “go as far as only buying our cars from one of our very good customers,” says vice president Lynda Burak.
  • Salespeople attend public meetings with clients when clients seek approval for remodeling and/or expansion from historical-landmark commissions, zoning boards and co-op or condo boards. It adds to their authenticity. “If you’re volunteering your time to attend a meeting you don’t have to go to and letting clients know you want to be part of the process,” says president Ed Burak, “it adds to the validity.”
  • Hudson Awning congratulates customers on customer achievements. When the firm sees a customer featured favorably in local media, it sends congratulations. And if they find an article that bears on a customer’s business, they send the article to the customer.
  • Remember to trumpet your own achievements. When Forbes magazine counted Hudson Awning among its 100 Enterprise Award winners in 2006 for “visionary practices and proven achievements,” Hudson relayed the news in letters to customers.

Eighty percent of Hudson’s business comes from existing customers or referrals. ”All of these techniques help to build a relationship with customers, so that our salespeople are not selling price, but our company,” says Lynda Burak.

“And in crazy times like these, it helps that our customers will not necessarily look for the cheapest price, because they know that we offer so much more.”

Marc Hequet is a business writer based in St. Paul, Minn.

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