Monday, April 20, 2009

Nurturing Client Relationships

It may seem counter-intuitive, but one of the best places you can start focusing your prospecting efforts is with your existing clients.

Take a serious look at what you are offering to your current clients-- what brought them to you and what it will take to keep them coming back. Consider the following avenues for nurturing and improving client relationships.

Cross-selling: If you were an auto dealer and sold someone a car, where would you want them to service that car? Cross-selling is actively looking at a client’s purchasing habits and finding addition products and services that fit their needs. The advantage of this type of activity come is several areas. First, it is the quickest and easiest way available to generate sales opportunities. The clients you are cross-selling to already have a trust relationship with you. They know your organization, their buying power and credit are already established, they know what to expect from the people and products in your company. Additionally, you are forming more ties between your company and your client. The more of their business you acquire, the less likely they are to pull up stakes and look to your competition in the future.

New Products and Services: What do you currently know about your customers? When was the last time you reviewed the services you offer and found something missing? Where did you file that last suggestion from a customer that said, “It would be nice if . . .”

Ekstrom and Associates recommends that you spend some time every three months reviewing the results of your prospecting efforts. Look for feasible, short-term projects that can help fill these types of niches. Plan for larger changes according to your client’s feedback and long-term needs.

Public Relations: If you decide to make a change or offer an additional client benefit, how will you let your clients, and the general public know? Over the years, Ekstrom and Associates has helped with a variety of promotional efforts. We have assisted clients by helping them announce an assortment of events. We’ve also sorted Marketing and Sales Databases, isolating specific groups or types of users to be targeted for a specific model or type of service. We’ve supported customer appreciation barbeques and annual golf events. For one client, we invited his customers to visit one of their locations, see a famous race car and meet the driver. We’ve invited customers and prospects to attend new branch openings and participated in different types of “thank you” campaigns.

Your goal is to establish yourself in the eyes of the public as a company actively trying to serve the needs of its clients. Public relations events are only limited by your imagination and budget.

Brand Recognition: That brings up the subject of brand recognition. Does your name easily come to mind when your customer has a problem, question or purchasing need? Has your company recently changed hands, acquired another company, been acquired, or changed something significant about your product, marketing, focus, or logo? How will you let your clients know how to find you?

I like the word attractive. It probably won’t overcome a down economy, but being attractive does not diminish one’s opportunities. So, how attractive can you become in the market? What can you do to enhance your attractiveness? How good can you get? How good can your employees get? The more attractive you are the more clients you keep and the more you can attract from your competition.

Customer Service: How do your clients perceive their value to you? What can you do to provide that small, unexpected, extra effort? When it comes to all your selling and prospecting efforts, are you seen as the one who honestly wants to make things better for your client, not just increase your own bottom line? This is another very effective way to form tendrils of trust and build protective walls around your clients. If they feel important and valued, they usually do not stray very far.

The last thing you want is to lose a relationship because they were looking for a product or service you didn’t, but could have easily, offered. Nurture your clients until that relationship is fortified enough that they never think to look somewhere else. That is the surest way to retain established relationships, nor will you have to work twice as hard to entice that prospect back at a later time.

Looking for a place to start your prospecting efforts? Get to know your current clients first

No comments:

Post a Comment