Customer Retention Techniques - How (not) to lose a customer in 10 ways

‘I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel’
     - Maya Angelou

Most sales training is based on closing the deal, getting the customer to sign the dotted line and immediately looking for the next contract. While this is obviously important, it’s not the be all and end all in sales. What you do after signing a customer or client is just as, if not more, important. A customer’s impression about your customer relations is paramount. One Oracle study even estimated that 9 in 10 customers leave a company due to poor customer service, with 86% of customers claiming they'd be happy to pay more for good customer service. These statistics alone show how receptive customers are when you treat them well, and when you don’t. Below we have devised '10' customer retention techniques that will help you keep your customers happy.

While the title may be a silly nod to the 2003 Romantic Comedy “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” these 10 customer retention techniques for sales reps are serious tips that will help you lower your churn rate, increase your sales and, if applied properly, could even improve your love life.

Customer Retention Techniques 

#1 - Do your research

Salesperson doing their research on a customer

While doing too much background research before a first date may throw off your potential partner (we recommend refraining from liking three-year-old Facebook photos) in the sales arena its high on the customer retention techniques list.

Impress clients with how much you know about their company by familiarizing yourself with their website, product,  mission and what they are looking for. Look them up on social media, LinkedIn and Glassdoor to get a better feel for company culture and use this information to tailor your continued sales approach to the specific customers or companies you’re trying to sell to. 

Staying connected with your clients through a professional social media site, like LinkedIn, will not only help you build and strengthen relationships, but can also help you generate more leads by giving you information on second degree connections who may also be interested in your product.

You will be on top of any major changes a company makes to their business model or product needs, and will be ready to provide top-notch service to ensure your relationship will continue running smoothly, even as the customer deals with changes on their end.

#2 - Communication - reaching out and following up

Communication is the foundation of any relationship and one of the key customer retention techniques. Whether your relationship is friendly, romantic, familial or professional in nature, knowing how to effectively communicate, and keep this communication going, will help you get the most out of your interactions. You may have put in the front-end grunt work to get in touch with a client and sign them on.  You may have schmoozed and chatted and even bought them dinner first, but just because they’ve signed the dotted line doesn’t mean they’ll be forever faithful to you as a customer.

Clients looking for a long-term commitment will want and expect to be wooed and in this competitive sales playing field, they can be afford to be picky. Your dazzling first-impression may have hooked them, peaking their interest and causing them to try you out, but once you’ve got them intrigued you need to show them you are a loyal and attentive vendor, willing to go the extra mile to make your clients happy.

Continue communicating and reaching out after the deal is “done” to show them that you value their business and actively want to keep them on your team. Don’t be afraid to call them up every so often, even if it’s simply to check in and make sure everything is going well. You may feel secure in your partnership, but periodically making it known that you are present, available and genuinely engaged in your customer’s business will keep your customers feeling satisfied and well taken care of.

#3 - Patience

You may be familiar with the phrase “patience is a virtue” and, although it may be overused in pop culture and media, the saying truly is wise beyond words (and is pretty much applicable to any and every situation, especially for the savvy salesperson). Once you’ve signed a new customer it can be tempting to shower them with emails and phone calls galore to make sure they stick with you and your product. While this may work on those customers who appreciate a steady stream of constant attention, the more tentative consumer may be scared off by your assertive communication style.

Just as when you’re first testing the waters of a new relationship, diving in headfirst with endless calls, texts and emails, can turn a soft ‘yes’ into a hard ‘no’. You want to make it clear to your customers that you’re there for them, available and happy to help. But instead of overloading them with love, be patient and take it slow. Spread out emails over time, limit your check-in calls to once a week and send out the occasional newsletter reminding them that you’re still there. It’s of course imperative that you periodically check in with customers, but it's equally imperative to remember the importance of patience and showing your presence and support without scaring them off.

#4 - Listening

Salesperson listening to their customer

Listening is one of the customer retention techniques you can not overlook. It is probably the most important and underestimated skills for a salesperson to have. It sounds simple, but, as essential as talking is to your job, being able to effectively listen can leave a louder and longer lasting impression on your customers. Listening to your customers’ concerns, desires and questions is integral to showing that you genuinely care about what your customer is saying and what they want. This also allows you to learn more about issues that other, future, clients might deal with.

Challenge yourself to become a better listener. Focus on what your customer needs and take the time to listen to their desires, relaying back what they said to show that you are listening intently. Learning how to effectively listen will help you better approach selling to different types of people and in turn increase your sales and customer retention rate. As humans, we want to feel heard and acknowledged, and when you actively listen to your customers, you forge deeper and more genuine connections and create more business.

#5 - Positivity

Positivity is one of the key customer retention techniques

It’s important to convey to your customers and potential customers, that your product is the best around, but it can be easy to fall into the trap of bad-mouthing your competitors instead of focusing on talking up your own product or service. You always want your customers to associate you with positivity–a good attitude makes you irresistible to anyone and everyone around you. Something as simple as making a negative comment about a competitor could cast you in a negative light and turn your customer off. Although the negativity is not directly associated with you, when you actively voice your unfavorable opinions, customers may think of you as not only a negative person, but one who is likely to talk poorly of others behind their backs.

Customers want to know that the people they’re doing business with have integrity and a solid moral compass, so shying away from any type of negativity and presenting yourself always in the positive will only serve you well.

Of course, it’s impossible to avoid all negativity in sales. Customers frequently have problems and if frustrated with their service or product may angrily voice these frustrations to you. It is your job to spin this negativity into something positive. Sometimes a customer is upset about a certain feature not offered through your business. It's vital to put a positive spin on it by focusing on all that your company does offer. Ask the right questions and you may find that you actually do offer what the customer is looking for. Remember: people will remember you based off of your shared interactions. Making sure those interactions are as positive as possible will make your customers happy to continue doing business with you and excited to pick up your phone call.

#6 - ABL (Always Be Learning)

As an experienced salesperson, it can be easy to stubbornly use the same sales methods and techniques for years, especially if they’ve proven successful in the past. But in order to keep business rolling in and your current clients happy, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest technologies and actively seek out learning materials. All of the greatest salespeople such as Jordan Belfort, Grant Cardone and Zig Ziglar to name a few, know that they will nefer stop learning–and this is what has set them apart.

We live in the age of technology and lucky for you there are a million and one different apps geared directly towards salespeople aimed at making your life easier on the job. Here are some we find particularly useful:

      1. DocScan: scan and send important documents on the go
      2. Keynote: create interactive presentations for customers and take them with you wherever you go
      3. Mobile CRM App: get the app associated with the CRM you or your company uses, allowing you to update your CRM on the go
      4. Square: accept credit card payments anytime, anywhere
      5. LinkedIn: Find new leads and educate yourself on current prospects.
      6. SpotHero: never struggle to find parking near a meeting again, SpotHero maps parking garages and lots near you with listed price rates, helping you find “cheap” nearby parking on the go.
      7. Badger Maps: plot your customer accounts directly on a map and optimize your routes, maximizing the number of meetings you can make in a day and minimizing the amount of time spent in traffic
      8. Slack: keep in touch with your team through this handy chat app
      9. Yelp: if you’re on the road, keeping yourself well-fueled is essential to your success as a salesperson. Download the Yelp app to your phone to quickly search tasty, cheap spots near you–this app is also useful for finding epic date-night locations within a matter of seconds.

#7 - Honesty

As stated above, it’s important to be positive, but this should not come at the expense of telling your customers the truth and being honest. It’s vital to be upfront. If there is an automatic maintenance charge at the end of every year, make sure the customer knows. It’s much better than the alternative of cancelling their subscription or spreading bad word of mouth. This is one of those customer retention techniques that cannot be underestimated.

The art is phrasing the truth correctly. Telling a lie, even a small one, and getting caught, is criminal. With it goes your credibility and any chance of the sale or continued business. It is also a lot of work, remembering the lies you tell and backing it up every time. Infoteam has devised some great information on the importance of honesty and integrity in sales.

#8 - Change how you view yourself

Being a salesperson who could sell water to a fish, ice to a polar bear,  or whatever other sales analogy cliché you’d like to use is so last millennium! The most effective and successful salespeople think of themselves more as consultant salespeople.  A consultant’s job is to dig into their clients’ needs, listen, take note of unique client-specific details and provide advice based off of the information they collect. Reshape the way you think of your services and watch your churn rate drop and your newly signed client base sky-rocket.

#9 - Love constructive criticism

Criticism isn’t always easy to hear, but it is essential to know what you may be doing wrong in order to figure out how to do things right. Learn to love constructive criticism to perfect your customer retention techniques. For current customers, be willing to ask if they have any concerns with you, your service or your product. They may have no real answer for you, but reaching out to them to see if they have suggestions or issues will not only get them more engaged in your business and feel better taken care of, but will help you figure out if you can fix a problem they have before it becomes reason enough for them to drop you as a vendor. Brainstorm ways to cleverly ask about questions, comments or concerns they may have without actively imploring them to think about negative things about your service.

#10 - Delighting your customers

Customer delighted with great service

The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%. The probability of selling to a new customer is 5-20%’.

It has been reported that it costs 4-10 times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing customer. These statistics alone show the importance of putting the customer retention techniques above into practice. The Badger Maps blog has some interesting findings and information on attracting, converting, closing and delighting your customers so they keep coming back for more.

Conclusion

To conclude, customers want to be delighted. We should make sure that we go above and beyond at every stage of the buying process. Above, we have devised some easy customer retention techniques that you can bring into your sales meetings and calls. Every customer is special and should be treated as such–and the same can be said for maintaining a successful relationship!

At Badger Maps we pride ourselves on our low churn rate and putting our customer retention techniques into practice. Feel free to check out our website and see if we’re a good fit for you! 

Written by Aaron Conroy and Halli Dobson

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