Retaining Clients is Job One Here

Dear Ken Keller,

While I have always spent a lot of effort and been focused on finding new clients, for the first time I am highly focused on retaining clients.

I’ve got two issues with this. The first is that the efforts so far have been okay, not great. The second is getting the rest of my team to have somewhere near my level interest in this. What suggestions do you have? —Georgia S.

Dear Georgia,

Your renewed emphasis on client retention is a smart one because it takes about 8 times the effort and cost to land a new client compared to retaining a current one.

What you really should be thinking about is not just to create strategies to “hold” – you also need to develop strategies to “build.”

To build is not just to increase revenue or the variety of what is sold, but also to improve the depth and breadth of the client relationship.

Whether B2B or B2C, organizations that are successful in retention and growth understand the nature of what their clients really want:

• They want to be recognized
• They want to be heard
• They want to be understood
• They want to be appreciated
• They want you to be genuine
• They want you to be a partner in their success

Some might argue that in today’s world, there is no such thing as real relationships, everything is a transaction.

Others would argue that no one buys based on a relationship; only price matters, or only convenience matters; or maybe only fast delivery matters.

Set aside those concerns and focus on what you can control.

The key to development of your tactics and programs is to use this list of wants to cement the personal and business relationships your company needs.

This is not just something you can do alone, or a list of tasks for your salespeople to do. This effort needs to be companywide.

While retention is your goal, you will need to gain buy-in at all levels of your company. And, be thinking about what your employees will gain when the team achieves the results that you seek.

Through the years I have discovered that many employees in a company are far closer to the clients than the owner. The employees know more about the relationship and what can be done to improve things but they are seldom asked for input.

Be different, be bold, show appreciation and recognize what your employees know by asking them for their input before you spend any money or create any grandiose plans. It will be time well spent.

Dear Ken Keller

I’ve got a long-time client that has starting paying their invoices late. This has never happened before and I’m concerned. Through the years we have become friends and this issue could create some awkwardness between us. I’d like to nip this in the bud; what would you do? —Vince W.

Dear Vince,

I’d reach out and set up a time to meet for breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, whatever.

Bring up the issue and ask how you can help your friend address his issue. I think he will be grateful you reached out and will appreciate your willingness to help him work through it.