July 15, 2015

Keep new customers buying

Perfecting sales meetings – part 4

Retaining customers – simple! It takes so much effort and time to convert a prospect into a customer, so why not retain them for as long as possible? In technical sales, new customers should become long-term clients providing regular orders over the years because you have sold them a solution. In this part, I will be discussing the strategy to keep new customers buying for the duration.

According to Harvard Business School, increasing customer retention rates by 5% can lead to an increase in profit of to up 75% so it’s definitely worth creating loyal customers. But how can we do that?

Here are some of my thoughts on how to retain customers, please feel free to comment.

Deliver what you promise

The first thing a new customer will judge you on is whether you actually deliver what you promised at time of ordering. Seems simple… If you order an ice cream and if it’s the one you ordered then that’s pretty straightforward. Within a larger organisation, it may not be so simple. It’s important that whatever the company claims it can achieve it does so. Next day delivery, colour choices, quality declarations are great statements, unless they disappoint. It’s not just down to the order taker, rather the whole company to understand the importance of achieving these claims. Not delivering what you promise creates a form of mistrust and customers are less likely to reorder if their expectations are quashed.

Even worse, many technical sales rely on other departments in the company to deliver a variety of services and product offers. Communicating the individual needs of the customer is paramount to all staff that will be involved with the order. This is usually achieved through an effective handover process.

Make them feel special

Good customer service is a must if you want to keep clients. Supporting your clients through the buying process is important and the quality of customer service is paramount. Here are some key pointers to help us all focus on customer service.

  • Be positive!
  • Have a personal touch (without being too personal)
  • Get to know all your major customers by name & know their business
  • Keep the customer informed at all times of any progress
  • Follow up in a timely manner
  • Be professional
  • Understand their point of view
  • Be true to your word
Communicate regularly

Whether it’s a major customer or a smaller one, they all need to know you still exist and want to continue to deliver great products and services to them.

It all depends on the channels we use to communicate. Smaller clients might appreciate a monthly newsletter or special offers by e-mail. These types of communications are great for updating on new products, interesting company news, technical issues and even potentially reminding the new customer that they might actually want to buy from you….

With larger clients and key accounts, it would most definitely require regular contact with review meetings to discuss potential growth plans and service requirements. With these, it is all too easy to come to the end of the year and realise you haven’t spent enough time communicating to your major clients because you are too busy trying to gain new ones. By doing this, you could be putting yourself at risk of the losing the business to more attentive competitors.

The best way to conquer this is to schedule your review meetings with your clients at the end of the year for the upcoming year. Every good salesperson has a workable call plan for themselves and potentially for a dedicated sales coordinator or customer service person to ensure the customer has regular contact with your company.

Listen to them!

Now you are communicating… don’t forget to listen!!

When you have an opportunity to talk to or meet a client, listen to what they say. I know, you’re thinking I’ve gone mad. No. Many telephone calls and visits are ineffective because we just deal with the current enquiry or go through the motions. If we actually communicated news, asked for feedback or even suggestions for improvement, then we may find opportunities for keeping new business or for improvements to products and systems.

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