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Thursday, February 11, 2010

WHAT BOOMERS WANT: How to Keep Your Customers Coming Back!

What Boomers Want
with Terri Benincasa

Satisfaction surveys show that although 65%-85% of customers rate themselves as "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with their existing vendor, they will switch to another provider according to the Harvard Business Review.

Just because your existing customers buy from you regularly doesn't mean that they will continue to do so. You have to work hard to keep them, which is why we encourage our Business Coaching clients to call the process of keeping their clients coming back, as “re-sales” rather than “renewals” or “regular customers,” both of which infer that keeping their business is a given.

So, why is it that, when common sales wisdom is “your best customer is your existing customer”, you can’t take even their satisfaction to the bank…?!

Here’s the primary reasons existing customers are stolen away, and what you can do about them:

1. Typical misstep: When reaching out to existing customers, most sales people concentrate only on the specifics associated with what they’re selling rather than getting to know more about the customer’s organization as a whole….that’s a lot of additional information that will help you understand their priorities & values, a great selling tool!

What to do instead: Ask broader questions; first, find out what they buy & when they buy; learning what they buy beyond your product gives you a handle on, for instance, whether they like high-end items with the best features or the Dollar Store, whether taking really great care of their employees is a priority or not; learning when they buy arms you with the times of the year their more inclined to discuss upgrades, re-sales, etc. (even if that’s not “renewal” time, it will further ensure you’ll get the re-sale when that time comes!);

2. Typical misstep: Most sales people tend to talk to the same one or two people in an organization, and too seldom it is not the best people in the company for ensuring a resale...; amazingly, it’s not always necessary to reach the “decision-maker

What to do instead: Find out not only who makes the decisions, but who influences the decision (often this is a different person than the top decision-maker…), then spend some time connecting with the latter whether or not you’ve connected with the former;

3. Typical misstep: According to Kathy Pabst Robshaw, Principal of The Total Telephone Effectiveness Company, when calling to stay connected to existing clients, do not say: "I am calling to check in..." – “that’s weak, helps no one, and wastes time” she teaches

What to do instead: You must have a reason to call - it can easily be created and planned in advance, and tailored to the specific company so you’re not wasting your time and theirs.

Finally, here are some of the times throughout the year that customers typically change vendor (or decide to…) in addition to (or sometimes instead of) contract expiration time:

  • budget review time,
  • new management or new department head,
  • change of business strategy, or
  • an economic upturn/downturn.

Now get out there and keep those customers coming back! May the resales be with you!

For more information, please visit Terri's TNNW Bio.

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