Let me tell you something I see quite often.
Salespeople focus on the hunt — and forget about the nurture. We’re trained as salespeople to always look for the next great deal.
So what? There are a couple of problems with this approach, especially in a tighter economy like the one we are in right now. When you are so busy trying to win the next client, you are most likely missing out on additional business in your own backyard. You also run the risk that the client will vanish before you even notice them shopping.
Cultivating relationships with your current clients matters for the following reasons:
- It enhances the bond between you and your client
- It presents opportunities for increased business
- It is a cost effective marketing strategy
1. Enhancing the bond
Your current clients want to know that you want to do business with them. They want to know that they actually matter to you. If you aren’t keeping in contact with them you are sending the opposite message.
When you contact your clients and just ask how things are going you not only let them know that you care but you can find out valuable information. You need to know what’s going on with your clients so you can be prepared. What if they are in trouble or laying off staff? What if they need something now that they didn’t need before? Something that you could help them with – either directly or indirectly.
This enhanced relationship can prevent your current clients from shopping your product or service, or from entertaining proposals from your competitors. You don’t want to find out that you’ve lost a client because you weren’t developing your relationship with them.
The way that you create a situation where they are reaching out to you is when you have been doing it first and often. Nurturing that relationship has long term results.
2. It presents opportunities for increased business
Your current clients are a great target market; you’ve already proven yourself to them, the sales cycle is shorter, the prospecting is minimal. When you know what’s going on you know what they need; you are involved on a consistent basis. Have you ever had a client that bought one thing from you and something else from someone else, even though it was something you could have provided?
That’s because you weren’t in front of them enough to let them know all of the things you do. And believe me when I tell you that even though you may have told them at the beginning, they weren’t hearing it. Clients hear what they need and want to hear at the time. If you tell them anything else, they usually don’t absorb the information. It’s up to you to maintain a relationship with them so YOU will find out what’s going on with them. When you know about their needs you can respond appropriately.
3. It is a cost effective marketing strategy
Think about it – how much could it possibly cost to communicate with your current clients? If you have a system and plug the clients into your daily routine you’ll find that it is easy to do and doesn’t cost anything. You see, they are already aware of you; they’ll take your call or schedule that meeting.
In an article from August 5, 2009 on REJournals.com, Susan Bergdoll discusses this very topic in the real estate world. She says, “. . . strengthening and maintaining relationships with existing customers, rather than pursuing new clients, is a cost-effective strategy during a difficult business environment. Current and previous customers are your most valuable asset because they already know, like and trust your business.” And this is in Real Estate! Imagine how valuable this method can be in your industry.
You can see the value of paying attention to your current clients. It is low or no cost, it helps buffer you from losing them as a client, and it is a great way to grow your business with them. Having a good, consistent relationship with your current clients can also create a world where they are referring you to their contact base. They’ll do this when you are top of mind; you will be top of mind when you are actively nurturing the relationships. Now isn’t it worth the small time and effort?
* * * * *
About the Author: Diane Helbig is a Professional Coach and the president of Seize This Day Coaching. Diane is a Contributing Editor on COSE Mindspring, a resource website for small business owners, as well as a member of the Sales Experts Panel at Top Sales Experts.