We talk a lot about the process of prospecting and finding new customers. Obviously, with a customer churn rate of +30% at most newspapers for one reason or another, it’s crucial to fill the pipeline to ensure that when one customer departs another is primed to take their place to deliver a revenue win. However, be extremely careful not to lose sight of the importance of keeping the customers you currently have!
Loyal, longtime clients certainly do not need the constant handholding and time investment that new prospects do – after all, their newspaper ads must be working for them which is why they have reached “loyal” status – but don’t get complacent and simply assume that those customers will always be there. With a plethora of media options in every market, coupled with aggressive pricing strategies from your competitors designed to steal your clients, newspapers are certainly not the only game in town.
The excuses are many for high churn rates. Clients leave and move on for a multitude of reasons that you cannot necessarily control. However, the number one reason that customers leave is because of a feeling of “indifference” towards a product or service they are paying to receive. This is something that you CAN control. Make sure that your key customers feel wanted – they’ll be more likely to stay where they feel appreciated.
Here are a few strategies to keep your clients firmly planted on your account list:
– Say “Thank You”: This is the most powerful weapon in your arsenal, and also the easiest to deploy. Receiving a “thank you” says so much about you, your company, and the value you place on your customers. It says “I appreciate you and I want you to stay.” When was the last time you received a “thank you” from a company you do business with in your personal life? Most of the time, the only time your hear from companies is when a payment is due. Be the exception – verbally express your graciousness to your customers – they’ll love you for it.
– Never Assume: Don’t simply think that you know what your customer wants, because what happens if you’re wrong? You need to constantly be asking probing questions to uncover the needs, wants and desires of your customers – as these things are constantly changing. Build your value proposition around your ability to offer solutions and exceed expectations based on the information you frequently gather.
– Stay Connected: While the frequency may vary, every customer should receive a touch at least once per quarter. This can come in the form of an email or preferably a phone call or handwritten note. This allows you to build a stronger relationship with your customers – especially if your touches are information or educationally-oriented and designed to add value to their experience with you, rather than just being used as a mechanism for selling your newspaper products and services.
– Always deliver: Do what you say. Every time. If a problem arises, inform your customer immediately. Explain how you’re going to deal with it, then follow up again (and again!) to ensure positive results. Don’t leave your customer hanging, wondering what is going on. This only leads to frustrated clients who will start looking for alternate options – and a sales rep will follow through and follow up.
– Share a Cup of Coffee: Invite your customers to join you for a cup of coffee. Spending 20 minutes together at a mutually convenient time and place to talk about business – and more importantly to learn more about your customers on a personal level – is the best time you’ll even spend with them. Personally speaking, I believe that I’ve sold more advertising simply because I build solid personal relationships with clients, I remember their spouse/children’s names (and ask about them), and I always send emails wishing clients a Happy Birthday. It’s a personal touch that goes a long way but it often overlooked because it takes extra time out of an already busy day. But trust me, it’s worth it!
Have a terrific week,
If there are specific topics you’d like to see discussed in a future issue of The Sales Cycle, please contact me at 612-278-0223 or firstname.lastname@example.org