>Are you struggling to grow your business or close deals? Are you noticing that some people seem to have all the business they want despite this economy? Are you wondering why this windfall is not happening for you?

If you are, then ask yourself one question – do I deliver? Do I meet, then exceed my customer’s expectations and do I add value beyond the product or service I sell?

This economy is not down, it is different, and with that shift comes higher expectations and demands from your customers and your prospects. People who are doing well right now, are people who are delivering and exceeding customer expectations. They understand their brand is screaming. Everything they do and say matters, every interaction and point of contact with the customer is a chance to win or lose the next piece of business. They understand the strong connection between customer service, sales and business growth. Successful business owners understand that their customers have a choice and a voice. One wrong move and customers will make the choice to pull their business, and they will share their experience through their voice on social media and traditional networking.

So does that mean you can never make a mistake with a client? No, that would be impossible, but it does mean you can’t make one until you have developed trust and added value. The underlying reason for successful business development in this economy is trust and value.  That is how customers are determining their return on investment. Trust is built through consistent, positive interaction and value is determined by the “extra” received beyond your traditional product or service. To be successful, you need to build this into your sales model.

In this economy you are no longer judged by what you did wrong, but by what additional you chose not to do. Your first set of interactions and meetings with your clients are so important, this is where they are determining the return on investment of working with you. Can I trust this person, do they add value, and will they deliver? I had an experience just last week, where a client of mine fired a new web developer not because they did anything wrong, but because they simply did not understand or deliver on the client’s expectations.

My client paid $10,000 in full for a new website and paid in advance. It took three weeks (after payment) for the web developer to follow back up with my client to get started. The first meeting was scheduled, and my client was informed that if the owner of the company did not attend this meeting, the client had to agree to pay for additional hours of production, in case the owner had changes etc. Fine, but the client was not informed of this when they paid what they thought was $10,000 for a new website. Strike one.

Second, the client was asked to fill out a standard online information form to get started, and told if they had questions to simply call or fill ask the Q&A form available on the form. Great, only it took three work days to get an answer back. Strike two.

Due to the unanswered questions,  my client missed their deadline to have the form returned so the site could be started. No phone call, no check in and no “can we help you call” from the web developer. The client’s feeling? You have my money and you don’t really care if and when I get started.  Strike 3

The result? The client asked for their money back, at which point the web developer started to add value and build trust, even offering discounts. Too late, discounts are not really what customers want right now, they want service. Service before there is a problem not after. The trust was broken, my client got their money back and went with a new developer.

Did the first web developer do anything wrong? No, not technically, but they lost the business because they did not deliver.

So how do you know if you are delivering?
1. Ask your customers? How is their experience, what else could you be doing to make this a better experience?
2. Make sure you listen to the customer and are solving the right problem. Clarify with your client.
3. Communicate and be proactive. Follow-up and communication are  NOT the responsibility of your customer they are yours.
4. Check your customer touch points and make sure they are positive, consistent, and are customer focused.
5. Find opportunity to add value beyond your product or service. Make an introduction to someone they want or need to meet, suggest a great networking opportunity for them, or give them a book or DVD that would help them with a particular challenge they are having.

Remember your customers have a choice and a voice. Succeeding in this economy is about going the extra mile early on,  so customers choose you and then use their voice to spread the word!