What it Takes to Retain Customers
Whether it’s an 8-year-old girl trying to sell Girl Scout Cookies or a 17-year-old boy trying to sell popcorn for his football team's fundraiser, it’s always a welcome surprise when a kid shows up at your doorstep trying to raise money for a worthy cause. Plus, having a face-to-face interaction makes you want to buy from them even more! It takes courage from a kid to walk up to a stranger’s front door and ask for money. It may be a little awkward and embarrassing for some, but it adds the personal flare that consumers love. With all the new gadgets on social media nowadays, kids could easily advertise whatever items they’re selling on Facebook and ask customers to Venmo a payment. But where’s the fun interaction in that? The saying “a little goes a long way” is true. The personalized experience at the customer’s front door is unique and speaks much louder volumes than a simple post on social media.
This same concept applies to how businesses treat their customers. Making a customer feel appreciated is absolutely paramount. Loyal customers should never be taken for granted because all it takes is one “better opportunity” for them to transfer to a competitor and for you to lose a valued customer. So, how can you acknowledge your customers and let them know they are treasured? It’s easier than you think… if you’re a good salesperson. Let’s start from a customer’s perspective. All too often, a salesperson will finalize their targeted sale and that will be the last time his or her customer will hear from them. Does this sound like the type of salesperson you would want to give your business to? Absolutely not. Instead, imagine being able to honestly say to your salesperson, “I have had a number of vendors in my office trying to get my business, but it is because of you, your support teams, and management that I have never changed from your company!” That is sweet music to a salesperson's ears. Fortunately, it’s not all that difficult to accomplish. You just have to actually give a sh!t about your business! If you care about the number of sales you’re making, you need to care about your business. If you care about your business, you need to care about your customer retention. If you care about your customer retention, you care about the genuine relationship you have with your customers. It’s that simple.
Similar to the kid-at-your-front-door-selling-something concept, it’s crucial to have face-to-face interactions with your customers. Although it’s important to regularly check in over an email or a phone call, having face-to-face meetings with customers builds a foundation of trust and respect. To further grow this relationship, you need to treat them the same as you treat all your customers. Typically, salespeople will spend most of their time and support on their larger customers while they place their smaller customers on the back burner. However, no matter what size the company is or how important its needs are, a fair and successful salesperson will set all of their customers at the same priority level and never play the favoritism card. In fact, 77% of customers surveyed in the 2021 Customer Experience Trend Report reported being more loyal to a company that offers a good customer experience and 73% are willing to spend more on a company that offers a good customer experience (Olson, 2021).
If you play all your cards right and follow these tips, you will have a high customer retention rate. Always knowing your retention rate is important as it helps you evaluate how you’re doing and where you can improve (and unless you’re at a 100% rate, there’s always room to improve!). How do you continue to keep a steady retention rate? Or increase the rate over time? It’s easy: instead of focusing solely on lead generation, direct your focus on customer retention. Although new leads are important, keeping your existing customers is essential. Why? Did you know that 55-70% of your sales come from existing customers? Or that 78% of loyal customers spread the word about your product and business? Or that 54% refuse to buy other products? (Gaille, 2017). You NEED to keep loyal customers to keep your business afloat.
Imagine going on a first date. You’re most likely going into the situation with your best foot forward to please the person you are meeting. It’s exciting and fun to learn about a new person, but there is a lot of pressure to ensure they’re interested in meeting with you again for a second date. Trying to collect new customers is very similar. You have to build their trust from the ground up. To do so, you focus your efforts on your marketing, branding, and advertising in hopes they become interested in your business. However, did you know that it costs 5-7 times more to gain a new customer than to retain an existing one? Think about it. You don’t need to spend a skyrocketing amount of money on marketing efforts to make existing customers, repeat customers, right? No. Why? They already have utilized your business from previous purchases and trust it enough to continue using it. New customers, however, require more convincing to lock in.
In all my years in correctional sales, I found the best way to retain customers is by building a strong relationship and treating all customers (big and small) with the same respect. Too many companies and salespeople only care about getting the contract signed. Although that’s important, what is just as important is what happens after that contract is signed.Pete JensenWestern Account Manager
Customer loyalty won’t just give you repeat business, but it will likely expand your business through recommendations via word of mouth. The key to happy and satisfied customers (and high customer retention) is to deliver fast support, personalize interactions, invest in employees, meet customers where they are, gather customer feedback, and incentivize loyalty. Even if your services or products are more costly than your competitors, it is worth every penny if you provide the support and service they have paid for. Hopefully, these tips will become useful when starting to build your customer base and will help you achieve a successful career in sales.
Gaille, Brandon (2017). 27 Surprising Customer Loyalty Statistics
Olson, Sarah (2021). What is customer retention? 11 examples and strategies to retain customers