Did you know?

20% of customers at a given company are the source of 80% of the company’s profits. 

You probably did and it may be that way at your company. Losing one of those 20% accounts can really hurt.  

Recruiting new customers costs 5 times as much as retaining current customers.

It is 16 times as costly to build a long-term business relationship with a new customer than simply to cultivate the loyalty of an existing customer.

The average customer spends 67% more in their 3rd year as a customer of your business than in the first year.

Despite the importance of customer retention, less than a third of business executives consider it a priority.

(statistics courtesy of Annex Cloud)

Why is that?

Customer Loyalty

We all know customer retention is important but you and I both know that most companies are not doing a great job of it. Losing customers out the back door faster than you can bring new ones in the front, doesn’t do anyone any good.

We need to retain our customers and to do that today, it’s more than just satisfaction. We need to do the work to earn their loyalty.

(For more great stats on customer success check out this post by Groove.)

Whose Job is it Anyway?

So, you close a deal, what’s next? Traditionally it was the salesperson’s job to land new accounts and keep them. Some sales executives still have account management along with landing new customers. Today, most organizations have separated the jobs and have salespeople looking for new business and account managers working with existing accounts to grow them. Some companies also have customer support people to assist customers. More recently, companies have started to have Customer Success departments. With all these people concerned about the customers, we should be able to retain them.

4 Fundamentals to Customer Retention

I’m sharing with you my 4 fundamentals for artfully keeping your best customers.

  1. Wow them
  2. Love them
  3. Sell them
  4. Develop them

Let’s dive into each of these and you decide where you can make some improvements.

1. Wow them – Onboarding success

What happens at your company once a deal is closed? Are your customers impressed?

  • Assign someone to onboard new customers.  
  • Make sure all the people involved in making the decision are thanked properly.  
  • Send them an email introducing everyone at your company they need to know and give them the contact information. Maybe even send a video of your team welcoming them. 
  • Oversee the implementation or delivery and be proactive and stay in touch through the process.  

  • Assist with user adoption, companywide rollout and do whatever is needed to make the customer successful. 
  • Keep in touch with all of the key players and develop relationships with new players. 
  • Be proactive in sharing information that will be helpful.  
  • Get others in your company involved and building relationships.

2. Love them – Build and strengthen relationships

Don’t love them and leave them. You had a great relationship while you were selling and then you disappear.

  • Continue to build relationships with key players. 
  • Introduce the others in your organization and help them develop relationships. 
  • Add value to your contacts are happy to hear from you.  
  • Follow them on social media and interact. I love it when people share my posts and you do too, so will they! 

  • Facilitate introductions to position senior executives from your company with theirs.  
  • Go on-site with members of your team to meet with their team. 
  • Send them a surprise every once in a while. Several copies of a great book. A tasty treat. Just don’t do it between Thanksgiving and New Year because it will get buried.

3. Sell them – Get repeat business and up-sell

Your customers have needs you can fill. They either need to fix something or grow. If you love them then you will have conversations that uncover needs.

  • Listen for the needs you can fill.  
  • Plan ahead with them by asking about future needs and what they are anticipating. 
  • Share videos with product tips and shortcuts. 

  • Share information about new products that will be coming out. 
  • Watch for trigger events on social media that will inform a conversation you can have with them that may lead to a purchase.  
  • Ask them for testimonials. It reminds them how much they love your solution.  

4. Develop them – Turn them into a referral source

The best thing about customers for life is they are loyal. Loyal customers will partner with you, give you feedback and best of all give you referrals.

  • Earn the right to ask for referrals. By referral, I mean an introduction.
  • Ask them to make introductions.
  • Thank them for the referrals at the time it is given.

  • Let them know the result of the referral. Did you win business? Either way, let them know and thank them again.
  • Continue to ask for referrals at a reasonable pace and give them a referral if possible. You can use LinkedIn to identify who they know that you would like to meet.

*Remember to develop relationships before you sell. Social media is a great help in finding commonalities.

“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.”

Jeff Bezos

Want more information? Watch this webinar, Customers for Life: The Art of Keeping Your Best Customers.

And if you don’t have time and want to get your questions answered directly, schedule a Customers for Life Strategy Session with me. Just follow this link, it’s that easy.

About the Author Alice Heiman

Alice Heiman, the CEOs Sales Coach. According to Forbes.com, she is among the world’s leading experts on the complex sale. She strategizes with sales leadership and provides innovative ideas to grow sales. Originally, from the widely known Miller Heiman Group, Alice and her team incorporate the newest research and best practices to provide sales programs that generate immediate and sustainable results.

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  • Barry Hall says:

    Many thanks Alice for a great post! I really enjoyed reading it and always appreciate
    what you send me.
    Best regards

  • Agreed, this is a great post. Alice, I really like the 4 fundamentals to customer retention. I start with an even broader premise that companies need to know their customers and get closer to the way they experience your brand and company. But once the time comes to take action on this intelligence, I like that frame of Wow, Love, Sell, and Develop. In a best case scenario, the Love and the Sell can kind of blend together. Cheers.

    • Alice Heiman says:

      Valerie, I agree, it’s very important that you know your customers and your customer’s customers. It helps you help them meet their goals.

  • Shari Levitin says:

    Thank you for distilling this Alice! I always say give them what the internet can’t. Friendship, insights and encouragement.

    • Alice Heiman says:

      Why lose a customer when you have the opportunity to make them a loyal advocate and walking advertisement for your company.

  • Alice, this is all so true and beautifully packaged in your article. Love it! When a company practices this, it’s rare.

    • Alice Heiman says:

      Thanks, Barbara. It is rare. You and I know it’s hard to focus on bringing in new customers and taking care of existing at the same time. I believe it is easier to bring in new when we place focus on existing customers because they can lead us to the new customers more easily.

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