Sales & Marketing

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10 ways to lock in existing customers

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How can you ensure your existing customers don’t pack up and go to your competitors? Here are ten ways to keep them happy:

1. Give them reasons to stay

Conduct high profile customer satisfaction research that makes it hard for them to say goodbye. These survey results also endorse the relationship.

2. Give them priority

Securing your base often becomes the unsexy poor relation in terms of the audiences you need to reach with marketing. It needs support at board level.

3. Integrate CRM

While CRM systems are brilliant at providing marketing intelligence, using them to contact existing customers must be framed using local knowledge. This means continuous co-ordination with account-facing staff to ensure the customer sees value.

4. Keep it relevant

Just because you have something new to say doesn’t mean that you should waste your customers’ time with it. Make sure your account handlers and sales people are briefed up and leave it to them to open the conversation. Then back them up with tools to take those conversations further if customers bite.

5. Flatter their good judgement

Individually-targeted mailings that name names and talk about customer success can go viral and get you invited to pitch in other areas of customers’ businesses.

6. Make it personal

Use third parties to interview key players and reflect their words in your own marketing. It shows that you’re listening to the top people and aligning your offering according to their business objectives.

7. Inform customers

Keeping your customers in the loop about your offering is more than just a courtesy, it’s a vital part of sales support and can open up accounts in ways that direct selling alone cannot.

8. Support your sales people

Existing business is sometimes left solely in the hands of sales people who prefer to keep “marketing” out of the equation. This protective attitude means that while relationship selling continues, customers are constantly receiving marketing messages from your competition, eroding or questioning your value and position.

9. Fight for budgets

Too often, budget emphasis is placed on delivery of new business and lead generation. And we all know the cost differential of bringing on new customers versus the cost of retaining existing customers don’t we?

10. Learn from history

Clausewitz, a Prussian soldier and military theorist, said the most important rule of war was to “secure your base”. American marketing pundits often use the analogy of war and quote military strategists like Marcus Aurelius to illustrate how marketing works. You, too, can learn from history: what has worked well to keep your existing customers happy? Rinse and repeat.

Nic Ricketts is chief executive of marketing consultancy 1st Objective.

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