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Close the sale, close the sale, close the sale… at some companies, this is almost like a mantra that management and the sales team repeat again and again.

Everyone is so focused on making a sale – and then moving on – that they miss the greatest opportunity that exists in business: converting a sale into a series of referrals.

Hands down, the most profitable way to win a sale is to have one of your existing customers refer you to prospective customers. This is a risky proposition for your customers because it involves putting their professional and personal reputations on the line, so it only happens when a customer is truly delighted with a vendor.

When you close a sale and then immediately shift your attention to another potential sale, you virtually ensure that no referral will result.

What a shame.

Here’s what makes much more sense: once you close a sale, rally your team to delight the customer. Give them 120% of what they expected. Yes, you heard that right: deliver more than they paid for.

Imagine that your goal is not simply to fulfill your obligation, but instead to so amaze your customer that he or she can’t believe how lucky they are to be doing business with you.

Does this sound unrealistic? It’s not, but it is rare. It’s also a highly profitable strategy.

By giving customers a bit more than they “deserved”, you significantly increase the odds they will lead you to other customers, and that they will buy from you again. That means you’ll get more sales without investing in marketing or advertising. It means your next sales cycle will be shorter, which translates to fewer expenses.

We’re not suggesting you sell a $100 item for $80. We’re simply pointing out that a sale doesn’t end when a customer says “yes”, but rather when a customer is so delighted by the transaction that you will be successful asking for one or more referrals.

Don’t just wait for customers to think of this on their own. Ask for a referrals, and then ask, “Is there anyone else who also would benefit from our services?”

But before you ask, be sure to execute a world-class, after the sale process:

• Ship fast.
• Make your product easy to understand and use.
• Package it safely and conveniently.
• Remember information for your customer, to make reordering easy (i.e. billing information and specs).
• Train customer service to solve problems on the first call, or earlier. The best customer service prevents problems from happening in the first place.
• Make a practice of having management call customers, not just frontline employees. This will keep them connected to what customers really care about.
• Gather feedback and then use it to help that customer, not just customers in general.