By Dave Kahle

Leveraging Satisfaction to Build Customer Relationships

by Dave Kahle

So, you have created a customer, you’ve actually sold something, and you have some money in the bank.

Before you become too enraptured with yourself, let me remind that you are not finished. There is a greater goal, and a larger and more encompassing strategy into which this transaction fits. If you focus all of your time and energy on creating sales, you will, unfortunately, miss the mark.

In a very fundamental sense, in face-to-face, one-on-one selling, the ultimate goal is something larger and more significant than the sale itself. It is the creation of a positive business relationship, because the relationship supersedes the transaction and makes all future transactions much easier and more profitable.

For example, if you have a great experience with the place from which you bought your TV, you are much more likely to go back there again. The next time, you are inclined to buy from them, less likely to price shop, and more likely to be less critical and demanding. You may even tell your friends about that place.

From the seller’s point of view, he has succeeded in creating a relationship with you such that you are favorably inclined to come back, buy again, and refer your friends. The second sale is so much easier than the first, because now you are less risk to the buyer. That’s the net result of a positive business relationship.

And the ultimate positive business relationship is something I call a “Partner.” A partner is someone who trusts you, believes you consistently bring value to him, sees you and your company as an integral part of his business, and buys almost everything he can from you.

The illustration below depicts a different way of looking at your fundamental strategy as a one-on-one, face-to-face sales person.

Your fundamental, long term strategy is to develop and nurture a passel of partners. Your partners then become an asset to your organization, providing years of revenue, in the same way that a brand or product line is an asset to the company. You can’t note them on your balance sheet, but they are, nevertheless, one of the sources of future wealth for both you and your company.

One necessary step in this process of moving them to become a partner is what I call the ROF call. That stands for “Relationship building, Opportunity identifying, Follow up” call. It’s the sales call you make after the customer has purchased and implemented your offer. For the realtor, it’s the call you make on your buyers after they have moved into their new home. For the car sales person, it’s the phone call after the customer has driven off the lot with the new car. For the B2B sales person, it’s the visit you make after they have begun to use your new service or product. And for our free-lance grant writer, it is the visit you arrange after the grant application has been submitted.

Why would you do it? Because you understand the bigger picture. It’s not just about this sale; it’s about the relationship.

“It is not just about this sale; it’s about the relationship.”

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It’s powerful because it’s unusual. When was the last time you had a sales person contact you after the purchase? Since you will be one of the very few sales people who actually care enough to follow up after the sale, you will stand out, head and shoulders, above your competitors.

Here’s an example. Fifteen years ago, I needed to hold a small meeting with about eight of my customers. I rented a small conference room for a couple hours in a local hotel. No meals or rooms involved. Just a small conference room. I think it cost $25.00. It was probably the smallest sale that the meetings department of that hotel could make. Two days after the meeting, I received a phone call from the sales person who rented the room to me.

“Was everything satisfactory?” she wanted to know. “Was the room clean, the temperature OK?”

I was so impressed by the fact that she cared enough to call that I recommended that hotel consistently, and used it for every local meeting I held for the next 15 years.

The ROF call is powerful for one more, very specific and tangible reason. It often produces additional opportunities. At the end of this very specific sales call, you ask for other opportunities.

Here’s how you do it. After you have delivered what they purchased from you, then call them for an appointment. When you are one-on-one with them, first ask about their satisfaction with what they bought. At this point, either of one or two things will happen. They will indicate they are satisfied or they weren’t. If they weren’t, you need to apologize and do whatever you can to fix it. It’s good that you found out right now, before it has a chance to fester and spread to other potential customers.

If they are satisfied, great. Confirm it. Then ask them what other opportunities they have for you and your service or product in the near future. If they indicate something, good for you, you have an additional opportunity to work on. (You have ‘found out what they want’ again) If they don’t, it’s OK.

But you are not done yet. Now, you want to probe for external opportunities. These are potential relationships and opportunities for you outside of the confines of this customer’s reach. Does he know other people to whom he can refer you? In a large organization, it could be other departments or plants. In a smaller one, it could be business colleagues. For an individual, it could be friends and neighbors.

If they provide you with a name or two, you now have a short cut into an engagement with a “right person”. And you are back at the start of the sales process with someone else. Since you have a recommendation from a trusted reference, you are entering that engagement with an advantage.

For the astute B2B sales person, the ROF call is a necessary step in developing the ‘partner’ relationship.


About the Author

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He has written ten books, and presented in 47 states and ten countries. He’s personally worked with more than 300 companies, and helped thousands of sales people, sales managers and sales executives be more effective.

How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime has been recognized by three international entities as “one of the five best English language business books.” Buy it now at a discount. 

Reprinted with permission of the publisher from


2011 Dave Kahle

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