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Monday, Aug 15, 2022
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Easier to Keep a Current Client Than to Get a New One

Variations of “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes” (origin unknown) is one of the 101 most popular American proverbs (Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and sayings). I would modify that to say, “Don’t think you understand your clients until you’ve sat an hour in their shoes”. It is cliché, but true, that it is much easier – and less expensive – to keep a current client or customer than it is to get a new one. Any business that has been around for a while has occasionally fallen into the trap of taking a client (or clients) for granted. Businesses too easily assume clients are happy (because you are), assumed their needs are being met (because yours are) and forget that competitors are knocking on the door (because you are too busy chasing new business). Take a look at your top 10 sources of revenue. What have you done in the last 30-60 days to remind them of how important they are to you and your business? Don’t assume that on-time delivery, fair pricing and responsive service is enough. In today’s economic environment, that’s the minimum expected and the minimum just ain’t going to get it done anymore. Here’s an even simpler question – are you putting as much effort into your clients as you are into your prospects? New is fun, it’s interesting and it’s exciting. Some companies even make the mistake of paying too much commission on new business and too little on ongoing business. Sales people and account executives go where the money is and if it’s not on current clients, their attention is elsewhere. These companies are always surprised when they lose a client, sometimes even uselessly redoubling their efforts to regain them after they‘ve been fired. Let’s take a look at client retention while wearing three different pairs of shoes: Client shoes – When you’re preparing for a meeting with a customer, are you preparing for your needs, or the customer’s? Do you know of issues they may have, questions they want to ask or concerns that need to be addressed? Have you sent a quick email asking what they would like to cover, possibly opening the door for a difficult subject, or reminding them of something they’d like to discuss? Perhaps they have questions or concerns about deadlines, dollars, delivery or donuts (while many won’t admit it, most of us still enjoy a good donut in the morning!). Have you sat for five minutes, tried to put yourself in their place and asked what would make for a better meeting and a more mutually beneficial relationship? Competitor shoes – Stop for a moment and think about your sales process. Now imagine that that same effort is happening right now – from your competitors and targeting your clients. Remember, your clients are their prospects and they’re as hungry for new business as you are. What’s your weak spot? You can be sure that they’ll find it. Think about how you go after their business. Did you think they weren’t doing the same? Stop right now and do everything you can to make your client “raid-proof.” Give them the pricing, service and quality that makes it very hard, if not impossible, for them to switch. Your shoes – These should be the most comfortable, but let’s be sure they’re not too comfortable. Is “good enough” really? If you have to hesitate before you say, “Ship it”, don’t. If it enters your mind “that they might notice”, or “might not care”, don’t be silly. They will notice and they do care – just like you do. Last cliché (promise): We never have time to do it right, but always have time to do it over. Unfortunately, you might not get a chance to do it over. Last note. Ask! It’s amazing how many of us don’t ask our clients what they want, what they need or what we could be doing better. Are we lazy, or afraid of the answer? Do we really think if we don’t bring issues up that any shortcomings will not become an issue? Do we really think this is our only client with similar concerns? Or that maybe, problems will go away on their own? Get aggressive in keeping your current business. You’ll find that this new focus will improve your customer satisfaction, customer retention and, in turn, make your sales process that much more successful and your shoes that much more comfortable. Scott Harris is the owner of Mustang Marketing, a full-service marketing agency serving the San Fernando Valley for more than 20 years. You can reach Scott at Scott@MustangMktg.com or visit Mustang’s website at www.MustangMktg.com.

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