You want to retain every single customer next year.
Is it possible?
Sure, it is! (Perhaps except for the one who dies or goes out of business, which does happen, unfortunately.)
Customer retention is the top priority of most sales professionals, according to RAIN Group research.
Why shouldn’t it be? Loyal customers spend more and make purchases more often. It’s almost always easier to build business with existing customers than it is to acquire new customers.
When it comes down to it, you probably like working with them.
So keep working with them in 2020.
Here’s expert advice and trends on what will work best to retain more customers next year.
Communicate strategically for retention
Communicating more with long-time and newer customers won’t necessarily keep them loyal. Communicating strategically will.
“The key to successful (retention) is amplifying your message where customers already are, and the reality of modern business is that a large amount of people’s time is spent within email,” says Bryan Wade, CEO at Sigstr. “In fact, the average person spends about 6.3 hours in their inbox a day. Email is an untapped diamond under the nose of today’s marketers and sales professionals. In 2020, many will want to push to further expand this channel, especially as the already hypercompetitive business landscape continues to expand.”
How? Good timing and good content. You can’t inundate customers with information day-in, day-out. Instead, send email weekly with valuable content – such as bullet-pointed tips on how to maximize use of your solution or a research-based white paper that can help them run their businesses better.
Personalize every experience
Salespeople have a personal relationships with most of their loyal customers. But when you’re trying to satisfy every customer, you might feel rushed. Then in haste, you make some experiences feel generic or forced.
“When you talk about personalization, it’s no longer just the things you can find out about the person online or something you uncover in one of the first meetings,” says Ernest Owusu, Head of BDR Development at 6sense. “Salespeople have to really know the business so they can personalize every prospect’s experience with relevant information that provides value to their unique situation. In 2020, sales reps will come armed with real insight about their buyers so they can create a personalized experience from the very first touchpoint.”
Now’s the time to study where your customers’ and their businesses can grow in 2020. Look for areas where their competition has fallen short. Give them insight ideas on how they can fill the need the competition left unfulfilled – and realize new success – in the New Year.
Build a bigger internal network to retain
It’s great to have solid relationships with a customer/friend/buyer within an organization. But the continued success of the relationship hinges on that single point of contact staying in his or her role. If he or she goes, the business may go, too.
“One of the biggest problems a (salesperson) can face is its main contact and sponsor within a client organization leaving the company,” Wade says. “You have to constantly search for ways to expand relationships within an organization to avoid this issue. (Salespeople) fill this gap by not only targeting prospects but also applying these concepts to existing customers.”
Build a bigger network within key accounts. Create more opportunities – coffee meetings, sharing valuable information via email with several contacts, event invitations – to build relationships with your clients’ boss and direct reports.
Personally connect more often
It’s so easy to connect with customers in social media, via chat or through email. But those channels don’t give salespeople as much of an opportunity to connect on the personal level real-time interaction does.
“We’re wired as humans to have more emotionally significant responses to people we’re close to. And whether we’re twelve feet, four feet, or even one and a half feet apart leads to decidedly different emotions,” say David Meerman Scott and Reiko Scott, authors of Fanocracy: How to Turn Fans into Customers and Customers into Fans.
“To successfully … sell or market a product or service, begin to think of creative ways to develop and cultivate human connections,” the Scotts say in their book. “Remember the importance of proximity because that can lead you to a better understanding of how to attract and keep potential fans interested in your products or services.”
Get out to see customers more often to retain their business year after year.
Referrals: Keep and gain customers
Getting referrals is the double whammy of sales: When you ask customers to refer friends, colleagues or family, you reinforce your belief in a strong relationship. When you reward them for referrals – with incentives or discounts – you build on the already good relationship. Of course, you will build new business with the referrals.
“Referrals are the most powerful way every business generates scalable growth,” says Jack Kosakowski, CEO at Creation Agency and social selling trainer with SkillsLabo.io. “Your customers are the best source of referrals. Instead of asking for referrals, set up a system that incentivizes new referrals for your customers.
“Give a discount or a spiff for everyone that they refer to you. You can also build in incentives for extra services or benefits for every referral they send your way,” Kosakowski says. “Build a referral system that works for your clients and ultimately gives them a weapon for growth and new sales conversations.
“Ask your clients, ‘What would incentivize you to send more of your friends and professional colleagues my way?'” Kosakowski says. “They will give you the answer. Then you just need to build a system that works!”
Rethink customer retention numbers
Salespeople often think of acquisition above all else. But one expert says you want to shift that mindset a bit.
“The acquisition-at-all-costs mentality isn’t a problem that originates solely within an … organization, but changing the focus of marketing teams to be retention-minded will be a common theme next year,” says Guy Marion, Founder and CEO of Brightback. “This shift will also usher in a new partnership between marketers and product teams as they work together to onboard, activate and collect feedback from customers.”
How? Marion suggests a “public and shared churn goal” to keep salespeople and their supporting colleagues and teams aligned on retention efforts as much as they are on acquisition efforts.
Be meticulous about retention management
It’s easy to say you’ll focus on efforts to on retain customers when you launch into a new year. Then things get crazy: You might see a high-potential lead or a looming acquisition goal, and thoughts of retention go out the window.
“End-of-quarter is not the time to remember that you forgot about your current customers,” says Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder and President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers, LLC. “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.”
Now double-check acquisition
Have you struggled to retain customers over the years? The problem may be less about your retention strategies and more about acquisition strategies.
Some salespeople go after the wrong kinds of customers, says Jill Avery, a Harvard Business School lecturer and author of Go To Market Tools. “They attract deal-seekers who then leave quickly when they find a better deal with another company,” she says.
“Think about the customers you want to serve up front and focus on acquiring the right customers. The goal is to bring in and keep customers who you can provide value to and who are valuable to you,” says Avery.
So study leads harder in the coming year. Qualify fewer with a discerning taste for customer acquisition and retention.