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What the Trump Victory Taught Us About Sales

The Presidential campaigns get worse each cycle.  I mean, really, “Oh boy 18 months of political jabbering via the 24-hour, instant broadcast news cycle”.  Said no-one ever.  The constant barrage of ugly commercials, the mud-slinging, The PAC ads (that are accountable to nobody for accuracy) the comments out of context that become oppositional mantras….  Yuck.  It’s enough to make you want to hibernate for six months until it’s over.  Yet if you mentally and emotionally separate yourself from the day to day distasteful noise you can make many great observations.  And this election in particular taught us some very important lessons in sales.

Observation 1:  You need to assimilate to the people whose support you request.  Despite the fact that both candidates live in an insular world with which we commoners do not identify (I only personally know a few people who fly in private jets), Hillary compounded the problem by making herself ‘scarce’.  The lack of public appearances, the lack of news conferences, the lack of retail politics, all helped to bolster the aura of elitism.  Look no further than wearing a $12,000 jacket to a poverty event.  It’s a huge disconnect. You need to dive in with us working class if you want to even pretend you can identify with us.

The Sales Lesson: Build rapport with those to whom you want to sell.  In sales, we use vocal matching, body language matching, even clothes matching. You cannot build rapport from a distance.   


Observation 2:
 The observation 1 disconnect was compounded by the numerous scandals – real or not – that made their way to the headlines.  One set of rules for me, a different set for you.  A repeat on that elitism, where you are not convincing voters that you will serve them, yet you want their support.  We buy from people, we know, like and trust and we buy for OUR reasons, not the sellers.  (Vote for Hillary because she’s a woman?) Hillary Clinton failed at all three – being known, liked and trusted – in fact one can observe that she didn’t even do a good job pretending to be likeable. On top of that was the dual personas; one in public and one in private.  Being genuine, despite faults is likeable.

The Sales Lesson: We buy from people we like and being genuine is a likeable characteristic.

 

We can move on to Donald Trump and examine how he won an astoundingly larger share than anyone thought.

Observation 3:  His bad behavior, foul language, perceived bigotry, or racism meant that he is human, and tasteful or not, he was being genuine.  No well-scripted, well-rehearsed, talking points.  He acts like the rest of us; often fumbling along in a public setting, saying whatever comes to mind (and to his potential detriment) skipping the filter and using the ‘outside voice’.  This is not to suggest that you and I walk around insulting people all day, but it did show that Trump is ‘one of us’.  He’s just another guy, with a more expensive suit and much more expensive ride.  Despite this obvious economic difference, Trump was out there, working the people in front-line fashion, being one of us, making mistakes along the way, being rude and offensive, yet being genuine. It was a very powerful technique. Look at the result.

The Sales Lesson: Get to know your customer so you can associate with what they want.  Peter Drucker said the best way to be successful is find out what people want and deliver it to them. And, I ‘ll add – always be genuine. 

Observation 4:  The biggest lesson resides in what we all want: to be heard and acknowledged.  There was a large swath of the population that came out in force because Trump, real or perceived, acknowledged them. It may have been directly or by association or generalization, but he effectively mobilized a populous that has largely felt forgotten and finally felt as if a candidate was speaking to them, specifically to them.  And they reciprocated, in many demographics (52% of women?) in surprising fashion.

The Sales Lesson: When you acknowledge your customers, they will be more inclined to buy from you.  If you remember that basic notion that your customers are buying for their reasons and they want those reasons heard, you’ll succeed.

The pundits – many of whom were embarrassingly wrong – are soul-searching to figure how they missed the results we saw last Tuesday.  It’s simple – they were looking at this election as the lesser of two bad choices contest.  They completely ignored what was really for sale and who was making the better sales pitch and promising better customer service.

We’ll see how well it all works out in the next four years.

Thanks for reading!

No Parking for you, you.... Customer!

What Customer Service? That’s My Space!

I must be in a time warp because I was under the mis-guided impression that reserved parking for bigwigs at companies went out of style the day that customer service became more important than where the Senior Vice President gets to park.  My wife and I disagree on this one: she says s/he has earned this dedicated parking spot.  I agree – s/he has earned it by serving the bank’s customers. Why would s/he take the parking spot away from a (paying) customer?  Let me add some more context:

First: I am a customer at this bank.

Second: This sign is on the side of the bank building where there are only four spaces and one handicapped space.  There is shared parking on the other side of the building, 20 feet beyond the drive-thru lane.  With genuine snarky tone and soaked with sarcasm – ‘Oh the poor SVP has to walk 20 or 30 extra feet. Oh poor bubby’….  Yeah, I’m being a jerk, but so is the jack wagon who put up that sign, barring CUSTOMERS from parking there, in his/her precious parking spot.  That does not carry a great customer service mentality with it.

Let’s speculate for a minute.  I have a meeting with my loan officer to discuss expanding my line of credit on which they will make thou$ands.  Or I am a prospect, and I park in the most sacred of spaces.  The SVP shows up.  I can see it now.  Queue Judge Smails from ‘Caddyshack’, “Porterhouse, there’s a brown Audi parked in my space. Call a tow truck and have it hauled away immediately.” Would the SVP have my truck towed?  Part of me says ‘go ahead,’ as it would prove the indifference towards the people that made/make you successful.  And if my truck is where I parked it when I finish my meeting, what is the point of a reserved space? Ego boost?  That’s another, longer blog post……

We are in the days of customer revolution; there are so many places to buy, well, everything, why would anyone tolerate such an attitude?  More importantly – does YOUR company have such policies?  My wife called it a perk of being SVP.  I’d prefer to have a monetary perk tied to how well we retain customers, let them park wherever they feel they need to, absent breaking the law. Or if they do, that’s for them to sort out.

I could be overreacting, however actions speak louder than words and the adage goes, ‘how you do anything is how you do everything’.  So when I see a sign like this, I it see it as a sign of how the company treats customers, or worse prospects.  Their website says, they’ll there for me.  As long as I park in the commoners’ parking spaces I guess. (Just imagine having me call you with a problem…)

Sure, we respect the SVP.  But without us – your customers – you have nothing of which to be SVP.

Thanks for reading!

Customer Retention is a mentality, not a program!!!

My HARO (Help a Reporter Out) feed recently included this request (loosely paraphrased): ‘Looking for opinions on when to start a customer retention program.’  My response: “Customer retention is a deep mentality of providing exceptional service and support at EVERY interaction. It starts on the prospecting call.  It is not a program.”

Unfortunately most company retention programs start when someone says they are leaving.  “Sure, let me get you over to the people who can help you close your account.”  This is the retention group, whose role is to ‘save’ the account.  First question: Why is there a separate group?  Second question: Why are you leaving?

Few industries require people to call to say goodbye so you really don’t know if/when a customer leaves unless they are vindictive and just wanted to tell you that they ‘will never do business with you ever again!’ You know those people – they have to have the last word, justified or not.

Customer Retention starts on the very first interaction by your sales people or marketing material, aligning your company’s products or services benefits (not features – understand the difference!) to the customer’s desired outcome.  Here’s the reality folks – Nobody cares what you’re selling.  The most popular radio station remains WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).  Stop selling products, I assure you nobody cares.  Sell results and gain customers for life.

Here is a simple, simple formula for stellar business success:

Find out what customers want, deliver it to them and take the best possible care of them all the time.

Accenture published a research study and among the findings, these two are true indicators of where to focus attention:

  • Over 80% of people who have switched providers felt the company could have done something to retain them with better live or in-person customer service.
  • 45% of consumers say they are willing to pay a higher price for goods and services if it ensured a better customer service experience, particularly if it involves a human interaction. So much for those automated systems….

Mind boggling?  Baffling?  Major new revelation?  NO!  Psychology 101.  People want to be heard, acknowledged and appreciated.  Seems simple enough, right?  Yet so many companies muck it up and have 20%, 30% and higher customer defection rates.  Because so many (way too many) businesses view ‘Customer Service’ as a cost center, a necessary evil, an expense, call it what you want.  Oh, what a tragedy for them!  But not you, gentle reader, You know your Customer Service group is the richest profit center in the company!  Right?

Customer service teams needs redemption – moving from the proverbial basement, re-defining and elevating their importance to the top of the company!  That is mentality.  Your customer service team knows more about your customers than any market research report, focus group or survey results.  Why?  Because they have live, real, authentic conversations with customers every single day, they actually know what is going on; customer preferences, customer responses to programs, likes/dislikes, etc. Yet does your marketing team ever ask the Customer Service team, ‘Hey, what’s going on in the customer’s world?’  Want an indicator of the chasm between leadership and customers? Answer this question:

How often does senior management listen to customer calls, or observe customer/company interactions?

A lot? Sometimes? Never?  Compare your answer to your level of customer service.  Think you have a handle on your customer service?  A study by Lee Resources asked both senior executives and their customers if the company provides excellent customer service.

  • Executives response? 80% said yes
  • Customers response? Just 8% said yes

8%.  Yes, read that again – 8%.  Just eight percent.  ONE TENTH the rate of the executives.  How’s that for a dramatic disconnect between senior executives and reality?

When you actually provide excellent customer service, you are on a path to not only redemption, but also retention.  And profits.  As Henry Ford said,

“A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.”

When you accept that Customer Service is THE biggest profit center in the company and adopt the mentality of ‘we’ll take excellent care of you’ at the strategic level of the company, making it a company directive that everyone on staff adopts….. THEN your customers will respond by sticking around to buy from you again and again and again….  Everyone wins!

That is the Customer Retention mentality because it’s not just a program.

How can there be 42 ‘Number One’ Ways’?

I am always looking for interesting statistics that I can use in my training. For example, we all know customer acquisition costs 6-10X that of customer retention, but who did the actual research? Actually, many sources have.  I look for that kind of stuff, which is strange since I’m not much of a numbers guy. I do, however enjoy some the statistics as they demonstrate how on-target we are with looking to improve the customer experience. My style is to just go with proven programs and measure later. SOME people want actual facts and figures? The nerve….

I was doing some of this research today and I came across one of those articles that gathers the opinions of dozens of experts and lists their top tips on how companies can increase their customer retention. Wow, that’s a lot of knowledge right there. But is it really useful? I’m not knocking any of the experts in any way, nor the publisher that put this list together. Well, actually I guess I am because most of the respondents led with, ‘the number one thing….’  This led to 42 top tips.  How can there be 42 top tips? If you think of top tips, aren’t there two or three at most? There are many, many really great tips although almost all of what was addressed the symptoms, not the a problems. Three of the responses:

  • Find out why customers are leaving in the first place
  • Build a loyalty program for a better customer experience and gather data for the company
  • Create a good experience. (Really, just ‘good’? Just asking…)

One response involved issuing loyalty cards, having customers register on a website (adding that now you can direct market and text them) and making them swipe/show the card at each purchase. Why do you want your customers to do so much work – just so you can create a marketing program around it? Call me the cynic, but no, I’m not doing all that and now have to carry around (another) loyalty card. This reminds of of a great quote form a Forbes article from Feb 24, 2014, “I’m a very loyal customer. I have five supermarket loyalty cards.’ Right……

These are very segmented, very specific responses and thoughts, not prone to company-wide roll-out. Sure, marketing wants to know why people leave and the customer service group is always doing their best to ‘create a good experience’ (again – why not great?), but there is not much crossover into other areas of the company. Customer retention is not a program and it is not run in a silo. It involves everyone, and I mean everyone.

There are Two and only Two ways to drive customer retention and they both are company-wide, all-hands-on-deck, integrated, addressing the problem, not the symptom.

  1. Re-write the company narrative and strategic directive, right from the top. Create the culture of customer retention everywhere within the organization, so that every employee, in every department, at every level understands WHY their work matters to the customer and therefore contributes to customer retention.
  2. Focus on the metric of customer retention as if your life depends on it, because it does. Ask the staff to develop the processes and policies that create customer retention – they are the front-line and know best what customers want and need because they talk to them every day.

These two methods work in concert to create a new mindset, a fundamental shift. Does it work? Yes it does! At my SatCom company, the number one directive is ‘Thrilled, Loyal Clients’. I created the framework and the staff created the processes that serve our clients so they are ‘Thrilled and Loyal’. This happens year after year, even with changes that happen in the business environment and ecosystem – even through rate increases. Some clients leave but since we deal with the government it is a pricing issue, never a client service issue. Since the staff created and update the processes, it means they own the processes. The results? 90% retention rate, 25 points over the average. Life cycle three times the industry average. How would you like those metrics for YOUR business?

When you start to do these two things….

  1. Commit to a strategic directive that focuses on customer service
  2. Focus your attention on customer retention

… everything else – and I do mean everything else falls in line. Policies, procedures, IT, billing, service rep skills, logistics, product development, manufacturing, even the facilities folks – yes a safe, clean work environment contributes to customer retention – all of these will be addressed, modified, and improved/changed/eliminated as the business environment changes.

I am about to start building a retention program with a top player within their segment in the consumer electronics industry. Step 1 is to measure customer defection rate (although they told me what it is). Step 2 is to re-write the company narrative into a customer retention strategic directive. Then we’ll bring in all the other departments and have them build in their role and figure out how to adjust what they do to support the strategic directive. That’s where the loyalty programs and great interactions and marketing offers come in. You don’t lead with that stuff. You cannot design a retention program around a loyalty program or skill-building if IT isn’t on board to set up the systems to provide the support. I’m reminded of a very large retailer that has 23 systems for service reps to switch between in order to complete any of the service tasks that may be asked of them. 23. Wow.

I enjoy reading the ‘top things/best practices’ kinds of lists. However, in my experience of developing customer retention programs and having built a company with the express focus on retention, I can assure you that you really need to start with the two points listed above and let everything else fall into place as it will.

If you commitment is strong enough and your staff buys into the new directive, everything WILL fall into place.

Is Bad Customer Service Actually Our Fault?

Is bad customer service actually our fault?

My daughter and I were baking a cake together at my birthday and an ad for the supermarket where she works came on the radio; fresh produce, great meats, sales for a month, not a week and great customer service. She smirked and I asked her about it. She said, ‘Customer service means I have to be nice to you even if you’re being a jerk to me.” She used a significantly stronger ‘weekend word.’ It got me thinking…..

How much of our perceived ‘poor customer’ service is actually our own fault?

If you train with me, you’ll go through an experiential exercise that has you envisioning someone near and dear to your heart, then role-play some interactions. How do you treat them if they are the customer? How do you treat them when you are the customer? Probably pretty well, for if you don’t, well, let’s just hope you have a comfortable sofa. But seriously, if you are a jerk to whomever you engage at your service provider, no matter what happens, you have ruined the experience – both for you and for the other person on the other side of the phone, counter, e-mail, chat,, etc.

Note I said person. Customer Service representatives are people, just like you and me. They have feelings, goals, ambitions, and problems. They are also in customer service so you can imagine during their work days, they will encounter nice, easy situations as well as challenging, dicey problems to solve. They will talk to grumpy old men and sweet old ladies, people who are un-informed or ill-informed, rushed and harried moms and dads and you and me. How we treat these service providers will certainly affect the resolution, or….. lack of resolution.

Even when I am angry about an issue, I remember very specifically and very consciously that the person on the phone/email/chat is not the person who made the policy, so I spare them my wrath. Do you do the same? Do you separate your anger from the person charged with helping you resolve it? Customer Service Representatives will help you no matter what. I will suggest that if you direct your anger at the right place; the policy, the error, the mistake and not at them, you will have a far better experience and resolution. People in customer service want to help – that’s why they are in customer service. Don’t ruin it for them (and yourself) by acting out against them. It’s similar to people who blow an air horn into the phone when a telemarketer calls (I’ve heard people do this?). What a cruel thing to do – they are just doing their job, give them a break!

The adage, ‘You attract more bees with honey than vinegar,’ comes to mind here. If you are pleasant and understanding of what they are saying, you are more likely to encounter someone who will make that extra effort to serve you and solve whatever problem prompted your call. But….

Act like the blankety-blank my daughter describes and guess what? You’ll get the bare minimum. What would you do? You’re just doing your job, explaining the company policy and procedure to a person who is behaving like a moron; you could do more to help them but our natural inclination is to let them reap what they sew. Karma anyone? Besides, people who act like that won’t appreciate your extra effort anyway, why bother?

As a former front-line CSR I understand the thinking and it is perfectly rational and human:

“I’ll save my best work for the best customer; the one who has a completely ridiculous problem, should be chewing my head off but isn’t. She is rational even while angry, polite and kind to me; sure, I’ll call in a favor from shipping and get her order fixed right now. She has every right to be nasty to me but she isn’t. Solving complex for nice people – I LOVE these calls….”

My mom was champ at being treated badly because she was the caller on a rampage. Everyone was a moron, everyone was incompetent, everyone was out to get her. Guess what; she always had a hard time with customer service. Hmmm….

The saying goes that ‘We train others how to treat us.’ Act like a nitwit and get treated like a nitwit. Act like a decent person and get treated as such.

Think about this the next time you are frustrated and angry and disgusted at a company but at the same time, need someone’s help. They can help you, or they can thrill you. You can control how the exchange goes. So…

Break out the honey jar!

Five Lessons from A Non-Flight

I was supposed to visit a business partner in the Bahamas yesterday to finalize a training program I will be delivering in January.  Thanks to a series of errors, I never made it.

As our departure time came and went, the Captain announced that a certain maintenance certificate had expired last night at midnight (seven hours previously).  When the maintenance crew came to do this inspection, they inspected the wrong plane so our plane was not legal to fly.  We’d be leaving in about 30-40 minutes.  Excellent! There goes my connection….

I looked up the alternate flights and learned that whatever flight I would be move onto would get me there too late for a series of meetings I was to have in the afternoon.  I opted to get off the plane, take my refund and go home.

With ample time to consider my experience, I’ve put together this list of five things that you must build into your client care process:

1) Planning – How a certificate expires seemingly unexpectedly is baffling.  There are some pretty rigorous standards to fly planes with definite expiration dates that are known in advance.  Given the preponderance of scheduling software (that runs my life), someone must have really dropped the ball.  We know situations change but if you plan your work and work your plan, what could go wrong?  Plenty but at least you are prepared.

2) Accuracy – Aircraft have tail numbers on them and inspecting the wrong plane makes me wonder what the crew was doing right before they inspected the wrong plane.  I have spell check, and people to review my math but this is different – matching numbers and letters ought not be a challenge, especially given that the Manchester, NH is small and there were literally two or three of this airlines planes there.

3) Genuine Care – As soon as the flight attendants heard abut the problem, the drinks cart was out  and they went to work serving us a beverage in an effort I’d imagine to lessen the blow of a delayed flight.  When you come from a place of service, you are strong for serving others is the highest calling.  Granted this was just juice and coffee; it was impressive nonetheless.

4) Compassion – Instead  of the typical ‘we’re delayed, too bad, so sad, bye bye’, the Captain said, ‘I’m sure you’re angry and frustrated’.  By acknowledging the pending anger and frustration, he joined our merry little band of 90 delayed passengers.  He then deepened that by announcing that many of the crew we going home and were not happy about the situation.  If you acknowledge the situation but more importantly the impact on your customers, you defuse the situation.  This ‘we’re all in this together’ mentality, aligns customers and providers together instead of the typical ‘us v. them’ dynamic that can be the norm

5) Accept ‘What ‘Is’ – Sure we all would have preferred that the certificate had been renewed and further that the crew had inspected the right plane, but given the situation, we all had two choices: sit and fume and complain or stay calm and just be.  The woman sitting across the aisle from me was the first to loudly spout about how ‘absurd this is’.  I professed that there was a reason this had happened and another passenger said he’d always prefer to be on the ground wishing to be in the air, instead of the reverse.  Who knows what tragedy might have befallen us all in our own way had the flight gone off on time.  Was this avoidable?  Sure.  Was it mostly incompetent?  Yup.  But instead of getting our blood pressure up and escalating into cacophony of angry complaints, we mostly remained calm. At least that was the mood as I took my bags and departed the plan, went to the gate and got my refund.

The plane left two hours and five minutes late so  cannot vouch for what happened after I took my leave.

Despite the fact that I describe the airline industry as the most customer abusive in the world, this particular flight crew did a great job of caring for us hapless souls on the plane that day.  They take pride in their work and it was refreshing to see.  Not only did I take away these lessons to share, I got a full refund. Imagine that – an airline giving a full refund!

Yes, there many reasons it was a truly anomalous day in aviation history.

And I found these great lessons to share.

Thanks for reading

Credibility is all about You!

Credibility is defined by Dictionary.com as, ‘the quality of being believable or worthy of trust.’ Think about the statement: ‘worthy of trust’. What does that actually mean? Before we answer that, let me back up and explain why I am on this vein of thinking.
Facebook keeps recommending ‘friends’ for me because we have 4, 15, 38, 89 mutual friends. Last week on of these ‘friends’ I don’t really know (but know and respect our mutual friend) started messaging me for no particular reason and then it turned inappropriate she let me know that she was…err…. lonely. I recommended a course of action and un-friended her.

The week before I had been visiting a client in London to bid happy retirement to my contact of three years and meet the new person. She was amazed that I flew all the way to London just to meet her. This particular client came about as a result of a new employee who had worked with my company at her last position. She was asked who provides what we do and she recommended us. Instant credibility! Since the meeting in London, I’ve heard from another employee needing to get up to speed on what we do. instant credibility number two! Is there anything more credible than an internal referral? External….maybe.

Last week I met ‘the new guy’ at a company where we have been the provider for nearly 16 years (quick – remember Y2K?). The only credibility I had was the past but since he had no frame of reference, he was a little reluctant to just welcome me with proverbial open arms. This is completely understandable. After we chatted for 45 minutes and ran into my last contact in the hallway – who sang my/our praises –he realized I was credible and worthy of trust. Having studied psychology and sociology (and beer!) in college, I was whisked back a bit to the observation post and mental note taking of how the shift happened. If you are reading, thank you for the reminder that credibility needs to be earned on one’s own merits, not just because as ‘he’s a good fella’ as Henry Hill states in the movie of the same name.

So here’s the question about people or companies you do business with:

Do you trust them enough to recommend them to your family/fiends/colleagues? They will all need to decide on the credibility on their own, but would you recommend them in the first place? If so, great, I recommend you do so – I personally love referrals. But if not….. well, why are you working with them?

If you wouldn’t recommend someone to your trusted circle, why are you continuing to spend money with them? Aren’t there better places that deserve your patronage? I’m just asking.

We all work with certain people and companies for a reason; low price, terms of service, recommendations. You define the credibility equation for you. Maybe one store simply has better pricing on commodity products and you’re okay with the lack of customer support. If it works for you, great; that is your credibility. And it is a very different credibility criterion than a hand-holding experience you may get someplace else.

Credibility is very personal and that’s what makes it so great – designed just for you, by you.

Thanks for reading!

Why the Quarter-to-Quarter mentality is killing business

I love business, I admit it. Think about this: Everything in your life, repeat everything is the result of an idea that came to life through some sort of business. Whether product or service, someone had an idea and cultivated it to a state of marketability. Some ideas (Uber, Facebook, Amazon) are better than others (feed mayonnaise to tuna fish?) and the market then decides who lives and dies and sometimes the lower quality solution wins out (Betamax anyone?).

However, there is something in business that has bothered me for years, starting back when I was in my early career in the world of financial services. The quarterly mentality. It’s just so, so, so, what’s the word… Ah yes! It’s just so short-sighted. A quarter is 90 days, three months, 12 weeks, a season, barely enough time to implement a plan, let alone see any results.

I was always fascinated by corporate earnings – did they meet or beat last quarter’s 20% annualized growth rate? They came in at 19% and the stock tumbles. Next quarter they come in at 22% and the stock skyrockets. What is going on here? My first thought is, ‘how can a large company continue to grow earnings at 20%?’ And even if they don’t, 19% is still pretty darn strong, so why the sell-off? Do you really wonder where generations get their instant gratification mentality? We’ve conditioned people to expect things to happen now or tomorrow when that just isn’t how things actually work.

There was folklore about Soichiro Honda’s 250 year business plan being laughed about by US executives. I scoured the web and could not find reference to said plan however; I did learn some interesting facts. He started Honda in a wooden shack in Japan in 1948. An idea, a motivated engineer and plenty of initiative, and 60 years later Honda is the largest manufacturer of internal combustion engines in the world. And we all know that everything they build lasts and lasts well. Here’s an fun fact: When Honda came to the US with their motorcycles, the first year was a money-losing proposition. Did they use the quarterly mentality? Nope. They adapted their plan, listened to customers, built what they asked for and within a few years had taken a large share of the market.

So what’s the point of all this? Simple: if you are running a company and you expect things to happen in a quarter and see tangible results, you really need a reality check. Fundamental change in 90 days? Really? That’s barely enough time for your staff to understand, digest, sort and internalize the ‘new reality’. Fundamental change takes more grit than that. It’s funny because people like to profess that change can happen in an instant (note the immediacy). I agree, but maintaining that change is what matters and that takes time, as in long-term.

Think about when you make a major purchase or acquire a new customer or client: do you look at the long-term cost of the purchase? $100 every year vs. $300 every five years? $1,000 profit today vs. $5,000 profit over three years? Which makes more sense to you? Depends how you are thinking doesn’t it?

Long-term thinking wins in the end. Quarterly thinking sets you on a roller coaster. Which can be a great ride if you like that sort of thing. Or end like Enron and MCI.

I prefer to do something more substantial. Why wouldn’t everyone?

Thanks for reading!

Are you Running Your Business Backwards?

Peter Drucker said, “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.” Yup, makes sense.

But let me ask you these two questions:

  1. How much do you spend acquiring customers compared to keeping them?
  2. Who makes more money in your organization – salespeople or support people?

If you are like most businesses or department heads, product managers, or group managers, you are so focused on your front end sale that you are letting your profits walk out the door. That is an uncomfortable thought but one that plays out in business every day. We build processes and structures and train staff around selling.

Wile it is obvious that you want to keep as many customers as you can I’ll repeat my earlier question:

How much do you spend on acquiring customers compared to keeping them?

Do you really know?  More to the point – Do you have an active, agreed-upon, funded and implemented client retention program in place?

We all know – or say we do – that it costs many more times to acquire new clients than it does to keep clients.  Agreed?

Then why don’t you have an active client retention campaign in place? 

Because you are running your business backwards.  And I’ll bet you are struggling to keep your profit numbers up and sales growing.  Why? Because it is expensive to acquire new clients and far less expensive to keep clients.

Here are three simple techniques to build client retention.

  1. Call your clients regularly to check in and say hello.  No sales pitch; a birthday, a ‘marker day’ (Have you ever received  Groundhog day card?), the anniversary of them becoming a client.  Make it memorable and take notes in your CRM so you can refer back if needed in the future
  2. Add Value: Send them relevant articles, write relevant articles, send a link to good news you read about their business. Put on webinars of importance and interest.  Bottom line: Do things that separate you from your competition.
  3. Here’s an outrageous  challenge: Be so outstanding at client support that people who do not have service from you call you for help. This may not apply to every business, but what better way to win clients from your competitor than supporting a competitor’s client better than they do!  (BTW – Lou’s company has done this!)

So there you go! Three simple, low cost, obvious techniques to shift the focus of your business to the most profitable and enduring side of things: existing clients.  Keep in mind these are people or organizations that are in the habit of buying from you now.  Do some work to ensure that continues while you simultaneously bring in new business.