It’s tough and costly to generate new business. So once you solidify a client, it makes practical sense to retain that business as you go after the next client. In fact, studies suggest that it is between five and seven times more costly to secure a new client than it is to simply hang on to a current one. And considering that over time, existing customers generate more income than newbies, it is incumbent to go to great lengths to keep the ones you have.
With that in mind, here are some methods to retain clients.
Understand the Client’s Needs. This seems straightforward, but the fact of the matter is a client’s actual needs might not be the ones you assume. For instance, you might offer a wide variety of options on a product, but the client is perhaps happy with the standard vanilla option, and what is keeping that business relationship intact is the price of that basic package or maybe the reliability of it.
Underpromise, Overdeliver. This old maxim is as true as ever. By setting expectations that you can certainly meet and that are acceptable to the client, you leave room for going beyond the call of duty. Pleasant surprises are always welcome in business, generally because they’re so rare. If the reverse of this is true — that you overpromise and underdeliver — you’re likely going to be getting a “Dear John” from that client before long.
Establish Multiple Relationships with a Given Client. In other words, diversify. If all your eggs are in one basket — let’s say a client’s vice president of marketing, for example — and that person leaves the company for any reason, you’re essentially starting from scratch with someone new. What makes this situation even worse is that the new VP of marketing is likely looking for ways to make a splash and keep climbing the company ladder or simply justify the new position, and as a result, might start by shaking things up and building new relationships.
Become the Leader in Your Field. Business relies heavily on contracted services to run their operations. If you’re not the expert in your industry, the clients you currently have will eventually outgrow you, opting to upgrade to something superior. Staying on top of the competition will, as an added perk, also aid in the acquiring of new business.
Demonstrate Necessity. Ensure that your client knows the value that you provide to their bottom line and the danger of losing your business. Try to show that the service or product you provide justifies the expense. If possible, show that without you, their profits would suffer. If your client sees you as an indispensable component of their success, they’re more likely to stay with you.
Simplify Things. This is a no-brainer. Don’t make it hard to do business with you. At every step, make the process of working with you easier rather than more difficult. Maybe that means automating; maybe it means cutting through red tape or maybe it means you go the extra mile instead of making them do so.