You are now well into your annual sales campaign. What are your overall goals this year? What are your revenue and profitability targets?
Your emphasis is on new customer acquisition. As you charge forth into the marketplace, full of energy and enthusiasm, don’t forget about your current customers. Otherwise you may find yourself off the mark.
Keep in mind that your current customers once were new customers. Now they comprise your current customer base – but for how long? If your current customers get the sense that the thrill of the new account sale is diminished, they may feel ignored and start looking elsewhere for a more attentive rep from a more attentive company.
Before you get that big “no thank you” surprise at renewal time, here are 4 Customer Retention Tips for you to keep top of mind throughout the year.
- You can’t grow your own business base if you have to constantly replace a certain portion of it each year.
Your goal is to have a 100% retained, satisfied and loyal customer base. That means each subsequent sales year for you becomes a growth year. Identify the types of accounts you should be cultivating and acquiring to ensure a high rate of renewal. Are you closing accounts by selling to anyone who will buy from you? If your account base is full of low-hanging fruit, you may not be thinking as strategically as you need to be.
- The reason customers choose to do business with you, initially, may change during the course of the following campaign year.
This scenario isn’t a bad thing, as long as you keep in touch with the factors impacting your customers’ businesses. The business ecosystem is dynamic, not static. Your customers’ needs may change, as well as their business strategy, due to triggers, regulatory changes, new technology advances. Keep taking their pulse throughout the year. Bring them insightful information throughout the year. Build your position as their resource. Remain on the outlook for new opportunities within existing accounts to upsell and introduce other product and service offerings.
- Don’t be a stranger.
You’ve probably heard nightmare stories from some of your customers about reps they’ve worked with who never show up until it’s renewal time. Don’t be one of “those” reps. If you are over-booked and unable to stay in touch as frequently as you had hoped, let your current customers know what’s going on. They may interpret your absence as lack of interest. Your customers are crazy-busy as well. They may apologize to you for their own lack of attention! It makes for a humorous, personal discussion that increases trust and builds loyalty. Be virtually attentive at the very least.
- Maintain focus and discipline.
The sales year gets frenzied, especially at the end of each quarter. End-of-quarter is not the time to remember that you forgot about your current customers. Set aside specific times each month to update yourself on their account status. Contact your current accounts during these set times. Send them relevant content, not only about the latest information from your own company, but the latest information you’ve gleaned about their competitive environment.
Closing a new account is a thrilling experience. Maintain your current customer base through a solid program that promotes customer loyalty. Demonstrate to yourself, your management and, most importantly to your customers, that you are a Salesperson of Worth.
That’s a customer retention strategy which brings value to everyone’s business table.
Babette N. Ten Haken, is President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC and author of its award-winning blog. She catalyzes business transition, startup growth, and professional development for non-traditional sellers, engineers, manufacturers, and technical startups. Her book on collaboration strategies, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.