Not that long ago, you got your foot in the door of your dream prospect by alerting them to industry trends that could impact their business. Your insights about why their status quo was at risk triggered the involvement and interest of more stakeholders. You helped them with outlaying and how they could be ahead of the curve when making a supplier change. Together with your Change Champion, you delivered an excellent business case for change to the prospect’s buying group. The contract was signed, and the change was executed throughout their organization. A new service-in-place arrived, and now, everyone is content with the new set-up and new partnership. What happens next? If this was the only value you created, you leave yourself open to complacency, and you leave the door wide open for your competitors. The key to retention is continuously creating new value. Do you know how? Do you have a strategy?
Keeping your customers’ loyalty is as hard work as prospecting for new business. To generate lifetime customers, you have to put as much effort into creating new value for your stakeholders after you have won their business. Numerous changes can happen to your customer. There may be changes in management or new requirements from their consumers. Their products and services may change and impact your solutions. There is always the risk of a disgruntled stakeholder who was hesitant in giving consent to let go of the previous supplier. And competitors will always offer a lower price.
Customer retention is not just depending on delivering quality service; There is much more to it, and much of it is in your hands. You need to have a strategy to build customer loyalty. What worked well for me in the past was applying the following Loyalty Builders. There are only three, thus overseeable. Doing only one of them is not enough; you will still leave the door open for your competitor sales reps. Work on all three and keep that door closed.
- Act as a part of their management team. At every meeting with any stakeholder, you continue to show interest in their challenges. Go outside your world of what you sell and understand how your customer tries to move their business forward. You keep coming with new ideas on how you can expand their business, develop market share, and go to new heights. And your products and solutions are the best fit for these plans.
2. Creative interaction. In the new way of selling, you don’t check-in. Instead, you focus on delivering value at every interaction. You are creative, and you use multi-media to your advantage. Examples are:
- Plan regular contact with all the main stakeholders. Stakeholders are in every function, at every level. Use email, phone, Skype, Zoom, or any similar platform. Stay close to them.
- Share regular updates about your company’s news and value creation for similar customers.
- Send them a video message introducing a White Paper or industry insights relevant to their challenges.
- React to their LinkedIn messages, acknowledging your shared interest.
- Invite them to your LinkedIn presence, post, and forward topics connected to their challenges.
- Reach stakeholders who are, in general, hard to get hold of. Don’t think for a moment that your competition is not talking to them. Ask your Change Champion for a joined meeting to reinforce your solution’s unique value helping the company achieving its goals.
3. Introduce your customer to the 4 x 4 Relationship Grid. When I was a Sales Director, I asked my team to “wire the customer’s building” by introducing 4 of our functional colleagues to 4 customer stakeholders. In this way, the stakeholder group builds a relationship with four other colleagues at your company in addition to yourself. In this way, the relationship is built horizontal and vertical. These meetings offer in-depth discussions specified to the stakeholder’s interest, including operational, customer service, marketing, or finance. The additional value the stakeholders perceive is no longer delivered only by you. This cross-functional relationship holds strong when your competitor tries to displace you. Document in your CRM the progress of the 4 x 4 Relationship Grid. Have you introduced your functional colleagues to all stakeholders? If not, take action.
|stakeholder 1||stakeholder 2||stakeholder 3||stakeholder 4|
|functional colleague 1||x|
|functional colleague 2||x||x|
|functional colleague 3||x|
|functional colleague 4||x|
The 4 x 4 Relationship Grid relieves much pressure off your shoulders. Customers appreciate the attention and welcome additional experts they can communicate with. These Loyalty Builders are the right strategy to deliver continuously new value, which is the key to customer retention.
Thank you for sharing with your network.