You’ve seen the meme. A young couple is walking down the sidewalk and he spins around to take a look at another girl walking by. The meme is funny because … well there is truth in the attraction to something new. The grass appearing to be greener on the other side of the fence. Of course, most of the people reading this article would never behave so atrociously. We would never fail to appreciate the wonderful person we’re already with. Or would we?
How much attention do you devote to your existing customers versus prospects? It’s very easy to become so focused on new business development that we ignore the great catch right in front of us.
No one likes to feel unappreciated, but rather than sending you a meme (You. Me. New Business.), that customer will more likely decide to finally take that sales call from one of your competitors. And where does that leave you but frantically “wining and dining” a new prospect to bring a new business relationship to the level of the one you just lost.
The good news is that your customers know you have other clients. Our business relationship vs. dating analogy only goes so far, and rational people understand this. Most estimates are that the marketing effort necessary to retain a customer is only about 20% of that needed to land a new account. Why not resolve to give your current customers at least that minimal amount of attention necessary to keep them satisfied and feeling “loved.”
Now you could assess your marketing budget and say one in five dollars needs to be devoted to existing clients, but it may be just as effective to look at the issue from the standpoint of hours rather than hard currency. Devotion doesn’t have to be measured in cash.
If you think it may be time to put the spark back in your existing relationships, here are a few tips presented as phrases that you’re probably familiar with. (And you’ll notice they aren’t costly at all.)
“How was your day?” Find out what’s new with your customers’ businesses, what changes they’re experiencing, and what trends they see. You may find an opportunity where you can help (or know someone who can – see below).
“You were on my mind.” Reach out to old clients you haven’t heard from in a while. It’s possible they’ve found someone new, but it’s more likely they just haven’t required your services. Ask them the same questions as those directly above to find out what is going on in their worlds. You’ll be surprised how often you hear, “I’ve been meaning to call you.”
“Let’s go out on the town.” For those of us in sales, we spend a lot of time at networking events. Ask your clients to join you and introduce them to the people you know. Networking isn’t always about what you can get, it’s also what you can give. Give the gift of new connections, and your clients will never forget it.
“This made me think of you.” Books, magazine articles, blogs or videos … there are likely dozens of things you read on a weekly basis that could be of interest to your clients. Pass them along.
“Have I told you lately …” We purchase a lot of goods and services in our daily lives — for work and for business. When was the last time you were thanked? A sincere ‘thank you’ or a handwritten note goes a long way.
As long as you are in business to make money it would be ridiculous to “stay true” to just one customer. Unfortunately, what’s expected is even tougher. You need to remain true to all of them. Love the one you’re with.