Yes, it is difficult to unseat incumbent suppliers. However, if you are not on top of your game at all times, you find yourself on the outside, looking in, and wondering what happened.
The earned trust involved with legacy customer loyalty takes time and continuous high-value performance. Over time, you and your client get to know each other very well, indeed. Your professional word becomes your professional bond.
In my Playbook, I recommend targeting continuous innovation to acquire and retain clients. Why? Executing this strategy keeps you both engaged, not only with each other, but also with industry and technology trends. As a result, you both have a lot to talk about each time you meet. This strategy involves continuous collaboration.
However, two factors can exert a negative impact on maintaining legacy customer loyalty.
First, complacency can set in on both the customer and supplier side of the table. When everything is going swell, you focus on other priorities. If you do not schedule periodic meetings with each other – even when all is well – too much time goes by.
When the target is continuous innovation, you never take your eyes off the ball even when you are not actively involved in the play. After all, the pace and cadence of technology advances in the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) ecosystem never cease. Legacy customers easily get comfortable in their status quo, too. Consequently, targeting continuous innovation helps you both remain engaged and focused on “what’s next?” for both of your businesses.
Next, mergers and acquisitions often change the composition of the C-Suite and decision makers. In family-owned businesses, succession planning is involved, which again can result in M&A. Then again, in both scenarios, dysfunctional in-fighting can disrupt well-run businesses and transform them into chaos.
If your target is continuous innovation, you are proactive and anticipatory of these changes coming down the road. Very little should come as a surprise: to both you and your client.
Finally, innovating legacy customers requires that you, yourself, embrace a professional innovation strategy.
Remaining engaged with legacy customers contrasts heavily with the pressure and tactics involved in acquiring new ones. Perhaps the first innovation you make involves yourself.
Understanding your own professional self-worth allows you to bring clarity to the value you create and deliver to customers. In addition, you begin to continuously treat legacy customers like new customers. As a result, you both operate in continuous discovery mode, with absolutely no room for complacency.
Do you have legacy customers with whom there is a high degree of mutual respect and loyalty? How did you achieve this outcome? Are there other customers that you can transform into loyal, legacy customers? Would you like some innovative coaching assistance?
Babette Ten Haken is a corporate catalyst and innovative speaker. She serves organizations as a strategist, coach and storyteller. Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ Workshops and Speaking programs leverage collaboration to catalyze professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer success for customer retention. Babette’s playbook of IIoT team collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.
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