Volatility surrounds us. The world is on edge right now. Businesses are wondering, will inflation, the banking crisis, and interest rate hikes lead to a recession? Or will we weather it and continue to grow in spite of the unpredictability?
The Market Impact on Your Business
Client loyalty is a critical element of your Revenue Generating System. Adding new clients without retaining clients hinders growth. If the rate at which you add new clients is less than the value of the clients you lose, your business shrinks.
In an unstable market, retaining clients is imperative not just for growth but for the stabilization of your business. Businesses are wondering about the economy. They’re moving more cautiously. They’re hesitating and adjusting priorities. That means finding and closing new prospects will be more difficult.
To achieve your revenue generation goals, you must place greater emphasis on client retention so that every new account you win can contribute to growth, not offset attrition.
The Client Loyalty Challenge: Memory Loss
You may be reading this and thinking, “our clients love us. They aren’t going anywhere.”
Ironically, when you’re providing great service without failure, you can actually lose clients at a higher rate than when you have issues and solve them quickly.
That’s because clients have a short memory.
As you continue to successfully serve them, your clients forget all the issues they had in their business before you solved them.
They forget the downtime they were experiencing and the security concerns bothering them when you first met. They forget how hard it was to recruit key players or train their team to higher levels of performance.
They forget that nobody was providing them strategic direction. Nobody was introducing them to new processes and technologies that could help their business run more smoothly and actually grow.
If You Provide an Ongoing Service
Client memory loss is especially prevalent if your company provides an ongoing service that solves a business problem and keeps that problem from recurring. If you’re a managed IT service provider, software as a service provider, a phone system provider, a recruiter, or a training company, your clients may not be as loyal as you think.
As clients forget how bad things were before you solved their problems, their loyalty to you wanes. Impossible to believe they could forget, but they do.
As clients get nervous about their business, they forget the problems they had before. Instead, they look at their expenditures for places to streamline.
You’ve got their business running smoothly. They’ve watched you. They believe now that you’ve solved the problem, it won’t return. Or they think now they can do for themselves what you have been doing for them.
Suddenly you’re at risk of losing them even though everything’s going great. Unless you are focused on client loyalty.
Two Questions to Ask Yourself
- Are your clients happy enough to continue buying from you?
- If they are nervous about spending in this volatile market, are they happy enough to retain you because they not only feel the value, but they can also articulate it?
When clients start to look for lower cost solutions, you want to be able to emphatically exclaim the answer is “yes” to both questions. But can you do that today?
How to Keep Clients Loyal
There are three sales strategies you can use to remind your existing clients about the value you provide and solidify their commitment to you even when they’re feeling uncertain in today’s volatile market.
1. Educate clients
Visually show clients what you’ve “done.” If you’re a managed IT service provider, use Business Reviews to show help desk calls taken from their staff, attacks on their servers, the number of devices you support, and projects completed. If you’re a staffing agency, show the number of candidates you screened and interviewed, successful hires, and results those hires have achieved.
Reinforce the value of your relationship, too. In addition to the services you deliver, there is the value you provide to them because they are a client. When you make recommendations you believe will best fit their business because you saw the need, that’s value. The fact that you don’t oversell and have their best interests at heart is also valuable.
Show anything that you can consolidate to demonstrate value related to the issues they were experiencing and the goal they had when you started working together. The trick here is to make the report pretty and simple to consume.
Schedule a regular meeting to discuss the findings. And during volatile times like this, increase the frequency of those meetings to stay visible with clients. Being in front of them can help reduce memory loss.
2. Show the money
When you share what you’ve “done,” go a step further and translate it into what that means financially to their business in avoided costs, productivity losses, staff retention – whatever cost benefit your service provides.
Include actual cost savings if your solution helps them keep control over their budget. They may have forgotten that what you do streamlines costs in other areas of the business.
During the sales process with both clients and prospects, identify what the business challenges are costing them, then use those metrics as your baseline after they engage with you. Your clients will often struggle here, but don’t let that deter you. Push them to think about the value they are getting from the service you provide.
This is a consultative sales approach that strengthens your relationship as you help clients analyze problems they’re grappling with, goals they want to achieve, solutions they are considering, and the impacts on their business. We consider it so important that we have two modules dedicated to how to uncover financial justification in our consultative selling training. Don’t skip over this because it’s uncomfortable.
During volatile times, it’s difficult for clients to step back and objectively analyze where they’re spending their money. Help them do that by opening the discussion and sharing data you have. They’ll be relieved when you do.
3. Change your sales conversation
During the sales process, as you share your approach for addressing prospects’ problems, also share the process you use to keep the issues at bay long-term. Describe your account management process, that you’ll meet with them regularly, what you’ll cover to keep them informed of your progress and achievements together, and how your knowledge about their company will grow.
Highlight your competitive differentiators. Don’t limit this to prospects. Remind clients what makes you unique and how that directly applies to the services you provide their company.
Reminding clients of your differentiation is especially important with those who have been with you for many years. They get complacent. They don’t realize the value your knowledge of their business adds to the service your company provides. It took you ten years to gain that level of intimacy and it’s not easily replaceable. Demonstrate that knowledge and expertise every time you speak with clients.
Tell them they may experience client memory loss as things get better. Caution them not to give in. Let them know you’ll remind them not to give in!
Improve Account Management
You want to retain these clients through good times and bad. Account management is a strategic tool to do that yet is often an afterthought.
In your company, account management may be assigned to the technical or delivery team. They’re speaking with clients, solving their problems, and making periodic strategic recommendations. That’s staying abreast of client needs, but that’s not account management.
While having a crackerjack technical or delivery team will help keep clients loyal, often those people aren’t prepared to smooth out client satisfaction issues, uncover new sales opportunities, and generally foster a relationship across the company.
Step back and think about what good account management looks like. Examine and objectively grade your account management team to determine where you could make improvements. If you haven’t done that recently, this article has an account management grader.
Make Client Loyalty Strategic
How you keep clients loyal doesn’t just happen with good service, although that is definitely important. It starts during the sales process, then gets reinforced through your account management process. You need to consistently remind clients what you’ve done for them today and why they need you.
Don’t get complacent.
While they love you, clients may be enticed by a lower cost. They may feel they can do it on their own. Or, they may feel like they can do without until the volatility in the world passes.
Help clients recognize the value you’re providing before they get lured away. Show them they can’t get those same results somewhere else or on their own.
Implement quarterly business reviews, semi-annual business reviews, or strategic visioning sessions. Whatever you want to call them, plan a specific type of meeting where you can demonstrate what you’ve done for them lately – and what you plan to do for them tomorrow.
Make client loyalty a strategic cornerstone of your revenue generating system so your clients can’t possibly forget all you’re doing for them. When you do that, you’ll retain a higher percentage of your clients, reduce attrition, and make every new account count toward growing your business.