The settlers’ wagon train heads westward into the unknown. They come under attack by outlaws. “Circle the wagons!” is the cry.
Sometimes, the settlers collaborate effectively. Other times, they disagree with how, when, where and why to start circling those wagons. Time is critical.
Eventually, the wagons move into formation: a continuously spinning wheel. Sometimes this strategy is successful, sometimes not over the course of repeated attacks.
Like those settlers, are your employees working together collaboratively on behalf of clients? Otherwise, when employees cannot work with or sell to skeptical technical colleagues and decision makers, your organizational wagon train gets stuck spinning its wheels.
Join me on October 3 at 11 AM Eastern to learn how to work with and sell to skeptical technical decision makers.
Is your company’s complex customer retention strategy really a version of wagon circling customer retention?
If so, you react and circle those status quo wagons. While you think you are getting somewhere, wagon circling always returns you to where you started. There is no forward momentum, tactically as well as strategically.
As a result, the pace and cadence of Industrial Internet of Things trends not only leave your organization stuck where you are. In addition, you actually get off course. When you move in circles, you lose site of your original destination.
Furthermore, you lose context as well. Over time, what you offer may no longer be valuable or relevant to employees and customers. New target, new destination.
Next, ponder whether your retained client base is uncomfortably stable.
When your client base is way too stable, complacency sets in. Recurring revenue breeds “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude. As a result, your organization continues to amble down the path, focused on what is in front of them, rather than indicators going on around them.
However, here’s a sobering thought. Consider the percentage of retained customers purchase something “new.” Is the majority of revenue generated from your loyal and retained customer base primarily re-orders or renewals?
Certainly, creating a loyal and retained customer base is the goal of customer retention strategy. However, when sales teams focus on acquiring re-orders rather than new customers, they reinforce wagon circling customer retention.
As a result, they become complacent. When the focus is maintaining their own commissions, the sales team loses the ability to acquire new business.
Then, consider whether you hire employees to reinforce wagon circling customer retention, rather than exploration and discovery.
In my Playbook, complex customer retention strategy involves more than discrete, siloed activities and actions focused on reducing customer defection. Human capital strategy also is involved.
Why? Because when customer churn is negligible, organizational complacency flourishes.
You are in wagon circling customer retention mode. Therefore, employees are engaged but mechanical. They continuously reproduce activities that got you to where you are today. Period.
No one thinks beyond the borders of the circle of wagons.
Perhaps an alternative, productive strategy involves hiring for critical and non-linear thinking. That breakout mindset is far more successful at moving companies innovatively and purposefully beyond wagon circling mode.
Finally, wagon circling customer retention reinforces the separation between customer acquisition and retention functions.
Organizations caught in wagon circling customer retention mode sequester pre-sale and post-sale activities into vertical silos.
Wow. C’mon folks. Last century’s Us versus Them mindset has no place in digitally connected, IoT business, industrial and manufacturing environments. Yet it persists.
If you’ve been reading the Sales Aerobics for Engineers® blog for a while, you understand its underlying purpose. If not, welcome!
My personal and professional mantra is: “Depending on where we sit around the business table, we all ‘see’ the same things differently. Shouldn’t our differences become our strengths and opportunities, instead of status quo impediments?”
Join me on October 3 at 11 AM Eastern. Learn how to liberate yourself from wagon circling mode. The first step starts with a human capital strategy emphasizing cross-functional collaboration. Learn to work with and sell to skeptical technical decision makers. Your clients will thank you!
Click here to register for my BrightTALK webinar, Why you can’t work with or sell to skeptical technical decision makers! I look forward to working with you.
Babette Ten Haken writes, speaks, consults and coaches about collaborative value creation for customer success and customer retention. She connects the dots between strategy and execution. She works across leadership, human capital / HR and technical/IT/engineering teams within the industrial Internet of Things ecosystem. Her focus? Creating 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.
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