You got the account, now what? Do you immediately jump back up to the top of the funnel, or do you nurture and develop the business that you already have. In this article and episode of Put That Coffee Down, Kevin Hill, Chris Jolly and I talk about strategies the sales professional can use to drive customer success.
First, let’s discuss why account retention is important. According to Marketing Metrics, the success rate of selling to an existing customer is 60%-70%, while the success rate of selling to a new customer is only 5%-20%.
In fact, Gartner Group statistics tell us that 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers.
But here’s the problem: The above is easier said than done. What approach do you take to customer service? The Chicago freight sales style of land and abandon? Cradle to the grave, where you have to be in the conversation at all times? Or a hybrid and dynamic approach (and from there, how do you evolve that strategy?)
To understand this, we need to look at what makes retention happen. Once we ID that and the strengths of our organizations and clients, we can better calibrate an approach.
Here are 13 strategies to look at when bringing on a new account.
Account handling: Initially what you’ll need to do is get the right documents in order, establish an onboarding process, and communicate and recommunicate any handoff if there is a new point of contact (POC).
Remember that your customers likely aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of how you operate; this is exponentially truer the more your business varies from the norm or the more services you have sold.
This likely will require you to oversee the initial onboarding and realize how involved you may have to be. This can vary wildly depending on what company you work for, and it depends on the team behind you. Don’t let defeatist thinking like “that’s not my job” cost you accounts. Ultimately your job is to land and retain accounts. If you don’t you’ll answer to your real boss: THE NUMBERS.
Handoff: This can be tough. I’d say at least 90% of accounts I have sold still wanted to retain me as the main POC in some capacity. Make sure you keep the people doing the back-end work CC’d so you both have visibility on communications, urgency and client emotion. If you have a client that is being too sticky, set up a video call with you and the new POC, do the intro and let them get familiar with one another. Don’t just complain: Act and resolve.
SOP: This is where you will set your expectations and deliverables for the client. Remember, promises are a debt so be prepared when your client looks for you to pay up. It is crucial that you are not only involved in the creation of the SOP but also that you help your client understand it while keeping customer service accountable.
Ecosystem: With so many companies doing content marketing, make sure to get your clients engaged with the brand. If you have a newsletter, ask to sign them up. If you have relevant learning tools, share and direct them to those. Use the add values that all sides of the house create.
Communications calendar: Set a communications schedule in your CRM and follow through. When it comes to your first shipment or product use, be involved in the process. Make sure to contact the client as a new shipment is moving, after delivery and after first billing 30 days later. These early touch points are crucial. Many customer service teams will encounter issues on the first shipment. It is crucial for you to close the gap and get the client and operations on the same page.
Upsell: Now that you’ve landed the account, handled some shipments and built some trust, consider areas of upsell that would benefit your client. If they trust your service, they’ll be more receptive to offerings they may have wanted to wait and see on. Don’t forget your early notes!
Cross sell: Sales people would love to get their clients to use every relevant and irrelevant service they offer. As you understand the account and build the relationship, start working toward ways to get buy-in for those added services. Say you’re a global 3PL and you landed the customer’s brokerage business but couldn’t secure the transportation. That’s great — you’ll take it. It may not be worth fighting for the cross sell at jump street.
Once they are onboarded, and if your service is working, why not explore opportunities to reduce POCs and partner companies for a client? Don’t forget your early notes; go back and try to sell the transportation, SaaS or other services now that the account is more mature.
Satisfaction: Survey your accounts to find out what is and what isn’t working. Follow the accounts and customers on LinkedIn/social media and see what they’re talking about. Positively engage them without being too creepy. Make note of subtweets and complaints. Send a card at key times.
Response time is critical. If a problem comes up, and it will, respond immediately that you are working to resolve it and communicate during this process. Remember, this is freight: We all have bosses, and somebody is always wondering where their freight is.
Take complaints seriously: A drop in customer service for one customer could be an indicator that other clients are facing the same issues with your service. This is an excellent time to survey your customers and address any additional concerns that you may find in the results.
Retention: Build loyalty through community. If your company has groups, involve them; if not, start your own LinkedIn group and invite current and potential customers. Use the forum for yourself and thought leaders to talk about ideas, share stories and address challenges.
Inspire them through community initiatives and by making them think of their freight in new and evolved ways.
Use data: Prevent churn by detecting the warning signs. If you have clients who have used you significantly less in the past month(s), make them a priority and find out why.
Make friends with marketing and push for access to client data on things like newsletter click throughs. Keep an eye on who is and isn’t engaged. Use what they engage in as icebreakers and insights into what they care about and what issues they face.
Referrals: Referrals are the peak of client relationships. Capitalize on that social proof and turn your clients into your advocates. Get testimonials from customers, and interview them about their supply chain and operations in your content marketing efforts. This could be as simple as asking them to do a quick interview/case study on how you’ve helped them. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals, just don’t beg for them. If you truly have added value to your customer and they have developed any sense of brand affinity, they’ll often be happy to help.
Know where the mail room and swag are. Don’t waste all of this stuff on foot traffic at conferences while ignoring your customers. If you have some cool or even not-so-cool swag, drop it in a box with a note. Your client will notice and so will your bottom line when they retain your services.
Own your errors and rectify them to the best of your ability. Always get ahead of the truth, not behind the lie.
Listen to or watch this episode of Put That Coffee Down on the audio and video players above or at your leisure on demand by looking up Put That Coffee Down on your favorite podcast player of choice.