Most executives I talk to feel like they’re drowning in data and yet anyone and everyone within the organization is telling them they need more and more data! Do you ever feel overwhelmed with all the things you need to worry about, let alone the collection of “big data” with the belief that data might help you generate better customer relations, or a more loyal customer?
I’m going to let you in on a big secret. The companies and clients that I work with who are at the top of their games, or continuously increasing revenue are only really placing a concerted effort on three key areas. I’m going to warn you, there’s nothing ground-breaking here that you don’t already know, but how these companies are focusing on these areas might surprise you.
I’ll tell you until the cows come home that most organizations are too focused on the new customer at the expense of their existing customers, but I’m also a realist. The current customer is the beating heart of any great business, but you need new customers to grow. Anybody who tells you otherwise should be thrown from your office. Today we’re going to about new and existing customers.
The first area that these companies excel in is their uncanny ability to sell to their existing customers more often. I said sell, not just “market to,” and not just putting offers in front of them, but selling. You need the same level of gravitas and effort that is put towards new customer acquisition, applied to selling more to your existing customer base. That requires a customer retention process. Most businesses have a sales process but not a retention process. The best companies do.
I once heard an author and marketer say that all great sales and marketing is just about sharing your message over and over again. He might have been half right, once. A decade ago, maybe a quarter right. Now, it’s more like a tenth.
If you want to sell to your prospects and existing customers either the first time or the sixth time, then you need to get three things right. But you need to get them right, all the time and every time.
You need to maintain top-of-mind awareness with your prospects and existing customers. Some of your prospective customers aren’t ready to buy yet, and some existing customers might buy from your competitors if you’re not there. Here’s an example.
I was doing a workshop with a $60MM construction firm. During the workshop, an employee in the back of the carefully raised his hand and asked if he could make a confession. With the CEO room I didn’t know what to expect, but here’s what he told us.
They had just finished an enormous and successful project. The client was thrilled! But when he returned to the client a month or two later, he found their biggest competitor performing an even larger job. They didn’t even get a chance to quote, and when he inquired the client just kind of shrugged it off and said, “They were here at the right time.”
How often is this happening in your business? Customer loyalty is never owed. It’s a function of day in and day out marketing.
You need maintain consistent and valuable messaging. You need to have effective sales and marketing processes for before, during, and after the sale. You can’t just show up on your customer’s doorstep when you’re looking to meet quotas or get the next deal. The best companies are consistently showing up with value.
I was speaking to a group of Executives in Calgary when one woman raised her hand and asked me the following question, “Why would we continue to spend time, energy, and money communicating with our existing customers in a down economy when they don’t have any money to spend?” This is exactly the type of backward thinking that plagues organizations everywhere. Eventually, they’ll have money to spend and guess where they’ll be spending it!
Lastly, you need a way to test, track, measure, and ensure your sales and marketing, and customer-related processes are being completed, and that the things you expect to be happening are actually happening.
With another client, the CEO expected that when a sale was made, there was a handoff to the next person, and a package was sent to each and every customer. It took about half a day and talking to a handful of their new customers to find out this was happening, but rarely. It was only happening about 20% of the time. I’m continually advocating that you need a defined sales process for each stage of the buying cycle, and proper reporting to show you the right things are getting done. Without a systematized process, it’s virtually impossible to know where you need to improve, or where you’re dropping the ball.
Getting these three things right is all about having the right tools, processes, and procedures in place. If you do that, your organization will run smoother, your customers will be happier, and you’ll be more profitable. It’s hard to argue against that.
These are the types of growth-focused challenges that can be hard to swallow. But that’s how we learn. If you hear something that makes you flinch, it likely has nothing to do with the quality of your products and services, and almost everything to do with one the three areas listed above.
– Noah Fleming is a globally recognized customer loyalty expert. He is the author of the new book, The Customer Loyalty Loop (CLICK HERE to get your copy) and the Amazon #1 bestselling book in sales, marketing and customer service categories, Evergreen: Cultivate the Enduring Customer Loyalty that Keeps Your Business Thriving. Over 20,000 executives receive his weekly Tuesday Tidbit. You can subscribe here.
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