If Q4 is the first time you are assessing whether or not your contracts will renew in 2017, well, I don’t need to tell you “Shame on You!” (Then again, I just did ;-))
Sure, it is very easy to become distracted chasing your numbers this quarter so you finish up strong! I certainly wish you all the best in acquiring new business. The relentless hunt for customers forms the essence of sales as we know it.
However, as you hunt new business, who is keeping an eye on your existing customers? Hmmm?????
Are your existing customers out of sight and out of mind?
Many salespeople leave the care and feeding of newly won and existing customers up to everyone else in the organization who was not involved in winning the initial sale. Are you one of “those” salespeople?
Setting aside time, even on a monthly basis, with your internal customer retention team members makes a huge difference in rate of customer retention. When you create a customer retention strategy which involves the inside folks who are most actively involved with customers, the competition won’t stand a chance.
Your strategy starts with an inclusive attitude. Complex selling is never a solo act. There are a lot of moving parts. Even after you “don’t need” those moving parts (who really are people) anymore, keep connected to them. Let them know where you are in your sales process. Tell them how much their insights helped you win the deal.
As you acquire new customers, create the network of resources who will retain that customer with you. With this customer retention strategy, existing customers will never be out of sight and out of mind. Instead, you and your network will remain proactive and anticipatory about upsell and cross selling opportunities. In addition, you will prevent negative customer experiences because you are thinking ahead, on behalf of your customers.
Customer retention pulse checks work best when you do not need to take them.
It’s always time for a customer retention pulse check. Even when those contracts are not hanging in the balance. In fact, it is better to simply check up on what you assume is your loyal and retained customer base. Just in case they are neither loyal nor retainable.
These pulse checks happen when you have non-sales, industry-related information to share. Discuss the implications of trends and tech advances which you feel might be beneficial or impactful to their business success.
Assessing your customers’ collective pulses lets you know whether your own company is performing well or, alternatively, whether internal process improvements are required. Has your own company experienced excessive employee churn? Are inexperienced internal and external sales and support staff able to provide customers with extraordinary customer experience or not?
Being disciplined about customer retention pulse checks impacts your sales track record.
Taking good care of customers throughout the year allows you to share your experiences with prospective customers. Your sales targets may be skeptical that you are going to win them and then abandon then.
Showcase how you work with newly won and existing customers after the sale, throughout the year. Address, upfront, the skepticism and fears which these decision makers are uncomfortable discussing with you. Let them “see” how doing business with you works.
- Do you have a customer retention strategy already?
- Has this blog post got your brain turning about how to create one?
- Are you planning on taking a customer retention pulse check today?
Take the next steps.
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- Are you an Owner, CEO, VP, decision maker or manager? Book a brief consultation with Babette at firstname.lastname@example.org . What are you waiting for?
Babette Ten Haken is a management consultant, strategist, speaker and coach focused on customer success for customer retention in the industrial Internet of Things ecosystem. She traverses the interface between human capital strategy for hiring, developing and implementing teams of collaborative technical, engineering, sales and business professionals. She serves manufacturing- and engineering- intensive companies, catalyzing teams to create enduring business outcomes.
Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Visit the Free Resources section of her website for more tools.