Data shows that customers who buy from a company four times then become likely to place more than half of their future orders with the same firm, for similar goods and services. Those figures—from marketing analytics company SumAll—also show that loyalty can generate as much as 40 percent of your revenues while taking up just 25 percent of your marketing and sales budget.
In a 2013 report, consultants from PricewaterhouseCoopers identified transaction management and post-deal performance management as important differentiators for businesses in highly competitive markets. Even if you're not yet large enough to hire your own big-name consultants, you can apply these five post-deal management tactics to your client retention strategy.
How to Grow Repeat Business
1. Consolidate team knowledge with a CRM system
As your company grows, a customer relationship management system can give you access to the three most important things you need to know:
- Touchpoints: Even if your sales leader takes meticulous notes, your CRM fails if it lacks copies of delivery status notifications, service tickets, and automated order requests
- Connections: The best CRM tools can draw from LinkedIn and Twitter to showcase your contacts' connections in their communities and industries
- Buying-cycle status: The most effective post-deal strategies rely on understanding which kind of attention each contact requires during any given stage of your relationship
You don't need to spend a lot of time or money on a CRM system. According to Philadelphia consultant Amy Larrimore, you may succeed faster by getting your customer notes into a basic, inexpensive, Web-based system instead of waiting for a "perfect" solution.
2. Measure client results against expectations
In large companies, teams of consultants measure whether a deal has delivered on promised claims. You can use similar practices to protect future sales.
- Own the delivery: Discover whether your shipments have reached end users, or if they're being stockpiled. Reduce friction by scheduling training or installation sessions
- Use a follow-up survey: Business author Fred Reichheld based the Net Promoter system on asking customers to rate their referral potential on a scale of one to 10. This kind of system removes much of the awkwardness, anger, and fear from an assessment
Active monitoring gives you the chance to show empathy if things go wrong, according to customer service expert Susan Hoekstra. Making things right without waiting for a customer to complain boosts customer satisfaction, referrals, and repeat business.
3. Schedule "transition campaigns" that blend marketing and sales
According to growth strategist Aldonna Ambler, transition marketing campaigns can nudge your contacts out of the "not-yet" phase of their buying cycle and into the "considering" phase. Instead of hammering a prospect with one-on-one sales calls, consider white papers, special events, and other one-to-many experiences that position your business as the solution to their current priorities.
4. Refer your clients to partners in your network
During your follow-up conversations with clients, ask probing questions about the challenges they face outside your normal area of expertise. Suggest that you can put your contact in touch with members of your professional network who specialize in that area. Not only will you position yourself as a vendor who cares about your clients' success, your referral partners can reinforce your role as a client's trusted adviser.
5. Communicate your post-deal plan before you close the sale
Even savvy professionals hate taking sales calls, especially right after placing an order. During the sales process, outline your communication strategy. Emphasize how you follow up with customers to ensure that you've met their needs. If you're accurately notating a customer's CRM records with the right details, you'll avoid launching into "sales mode" too soon while building your status as a trusted adviser over time.
As part of your overall sales strategy, these post-deal management tactics can start to feel effortless. Yet, executed well, they can eventually lead to nearly half of your company's sales at a fraction of the cost of blanket marketing campaigns.
Joe Taylor Jr. has covered personal finance and business for more than two decades. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, Fox Business, and ABC News. He recently completed a personal finance book entitled "The Rogue Guide to Credit Cards" (Rogue Guide Books, 2012).
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