I have a strong belief that the real selling starts after the sale.
But so many sales teams are incentivised to focus relentlessly on pre-sale activity, ignoring the fact that a customer becomes more valuable to you once a sale is completed. The first sale is just the first step in the process – now you have to make sure the customer is committed to you, and remains committed to you, throughout their partnership with your organisation.
We all know the statistics about ratio of costs when it comes to acquiring a new customer versus retaining a customer. I won’t go into that – but what I will say is that the simple things that would help you retain a customer, are often not being done. Regular catch-ups, following up when you said you would, or inviting them to the days out that you normally only invite your new prospects to are ways to maintain a good relationship once the deal is done. Sales reps often just focus on the next prospect instead of spending time with existing customers who actually spend money with you. And the best thing of all about engaging with existing clients is that you know that your customer wants to be engaged with you, because they bought from you. They have given you the green light to engage and be a good vendor. Take the opportunity!
Familiarity breeds complacency
It’s easy to become complacent with your best customers – they pay on time, they don’t give you a hard time and they are always happy to see you. It’s easy to take them for granted – but if you think about the Customer Lifetime Value rather than the value of the deal in front of you right now, then it might change how you think about the time and resources you dedicate to continually winning back your customer.
Most marketing and sales ROI calculations are based on net new business revenue or margin – but how do you calculate ROI on NOT losing your best customer? Do you factor customer churn rates into your ROI calculations?
Sometimes all it needs is a period of review and reflect to think about your best customers, and look at what you can do to increase their experience after the sale. We like to organise our annual Jon Palmer Race Days – there’s no selling going on, no talking about work – just a chance to share some time away from the office with our customers, and it is our little way of saying thank you for working with us. It makes sense to do this with our existing customers to retain that valuable relationship, rather than ploughing all our marketing budget into finding new prospects who may never become customers. Obviously you have to do new business prospecting but marketing budgets should always account for how to focus resources on existing clients.
Keeping in regular contact helps to maintain the bonds created between you and your customer – and is a fundamental part of ensuring high customer experience levels. This relatively new trend of analysing customer experience forgets that it all comes down to a fundamental, and basic, activity: keeping your customer happy. Maybe in this new digital world where it has never been easier to reach thousands of new prospects on a daily basis, marketing and sales activities have flipped to continually focus on the new, new, new. But generations ago, the local cornershop with a loyal customer base knew the value of a good and consistent customer experience long before marketing experts coined the phrase.
A recent article by Tamara Schenk highlighted how marketing content should also be employed throughout the entire customer journey, both before and after you have joined your client for the ride. She advocates creating the right kind of content during the “implementation, adoption and usage” phase. These are the critical points where the customer starts to develop a view on what working with you is like. Dedicating time and investing resources into making your solution fit as seamlessly as possible will pay off when the next refresh comes around.
After all, your customer of today will be your competitor’s new prospect tomorrow.