Return on Behavior Magazine
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Customer Experience

April 26th, 2010

7 Ways to Keep Your Existing Customers

Author and Speaker Mark Holmes ask us if customer loyalty is increasing, and looks at how you can keep existing business, or create new sales opportunities.

During these uncertain times, is it possible that some of your customer’s are less likely to switch loyalties to another supplier, even if that supplier ‘might’ offer some advantages?

Do you see customer loyalty on the rise? Some of my clients do and have expressed this view to me recently.

One client recently passed this story alongwhen his sales force blitzes a new territory for their product line, out of 300+ contacts they now only yield 1 or 2% new customers! In the past this was apparently much higher. And get this, he wasn’t referring to a direct-mail blitz, but rather, personal contacts in the field. His company has earned a stellar reputation in the marketplace, and has among the highest quality as well as lowest price points, but still finds receptivity to doing business with a new supplier much more difficult to achieve.

What factors may be driving increased customer loyalty today? Well, according to some studies (Harvard Business Review, July-Aug 2009) trust in business is running much lower than in previous years.

So, if decision-makers trust other businesses less, doesn’t it seem possible that they might be less likely to consider switching to new vendors? While resistance to changing suppliers has always been evident in competitive B2B markets, it may just be on the rise.

Fortunately, there are some ways you can ride this wave of mistrust and come out ahead.

7 Ways to Keep Existing Customers and/or Land New Ones:

  • Find ways to build and earn more trust in the initial phase of your sales cycle with prospects. Offer to do lunch and learns, provide case studies of your results, provide a steady stream ofcustomer testimonials.
  • Give the sales cycle longer intervals than in the past. If your sales cycle is six months, give it nine or twelve when soliciting a prospect who has never done business with your company before now.
  • Work hard to earn the trust of your current customers. Realize that new competitors are likely entering your marketplace in search of business, due to declining sales in their own niche. Ramp up your efforts to retain current customers.
  • Create and deliver new, added value to your existing customers—making it more difficult for competitors to woo them away.
  • Regularly dialogue with your customers. Find out if there are ways you can improve your deliverables, then do it. This will help solidify their loyalties down the road.
  • Aggressively manage your sales and marketing efforts. Difficult times call for new, creative problem solving if you expect to remain competitive in the future.
  • Turn your sales force (or advertising agency/marketing department) into a gatherer of market-driven information that can aid your strategy development. Marketplace advantages enjoy shorter lifecycles and must be replaced with new, more effective ones.

About the Author

Mark Holmes

Mark Holmes helps companies increase sales, service and employee performance. He advises, speaks to and coaches some of America’s most successful small and large companies.

His advanced ideas on employee retention, customer service and increasing sales have been widely featured in major national media like FOX Business, the Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News and The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of the bestseller Wooing Customers Back (3rd ed.) and The People Keeper. 

Email: [email protected] 




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