13 powerful strategies to increase customer retention

Customer retention strategies deliver highest ROI
Customer retention strategies deliver highest ROI

Question: What is the source of highest profit sales? Most likely, it’s your current and past customers. Next question: What is your customer retention process?

You’ve already attracted these customers to your brand, built the know, like and trust factor and earned a purchase from them. You successfully converted a lead to a paying customer. And it cost you money to do that. Maybe a lot of money. How much less expensive is it to keep good customers than acquire new ones?

Download the free Lifetime Total Customer Value calculator so you can get the maximum ROI from each customers this month.

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A good customer retention plan has amazing ROI.

In an article posted on Entreprenuer.com, Eric Sui said,  “According to Bain & Company, it costs 7X more to attract new customers than it does to keep them. Additionally, if you retain just 5% of your customers annually, you can generate up to 125 percent more profits. Retention strategies truly pay off in the long run and help you build a sound business over time.”

I’ve outlined 13 keys you must have for your customer retention funnel to be effective so you can score more sales.

1. Make retention a top priority.

Prioritize the highest ROI activity your company does, which is most likely customer retention.

2. Measure life time value of customers.

Determine the life time value (LTV) of your average customers. The additional purchases, upgrades, replacements and referrals they send to you add up to a much bigger dollar amount than just the first purchase they make. Download this free LTV calculator here.

3. Provide amazing customer service

Have you noticed that even the cable companies want to “delight customers”? They finally get the importance of keeping current customers happy because it’s way less expensive to keep customers than to acquire new ones.

4. After the sale nurturing

Create a system for following up after the sale at regular intervals. Depending on your business, that may be a week after the sale or a month. Pay attention to how your customers are engaging with your brand, it’s product and services. Respond quickly to customers. Always. A good customer retention funnel has as process that everyone who touches the customers uses to continue nurturing the relationship after the sale. Continue delivering high value content and service and you’ll score more sales.

5. Budget for customer retention marketing

Since the ROI on keeping customers is so much higher than on acquiring new ones, it makes sense to assign some budget to marketing efforts aimed at retention.

6. CRM

Without a good CRM, your customers may be on the business end of an ill-timed phone call from an inside sales rep pitching an upsell, when that customer is currently threatening to leave if a dire problem isn’t solved. Not a good customer retention play.

Since the beginning of CRM time, having a 360 degree view of the customer so that companies could avoid this type of mistake has been the goal. You can’t manage an effective customer retention funnel without a good CRM.

7. Communicate frequently

Your customers want to feel valuable after they’ve spent money with you. Communicate with them frequently to show you care. Birthday greetings, holiday messages, news and updates are great ways to show them you care. Remember to only email customers who have opted into your email list.

8. Engage on social media

Social media is the equal opportunity soap box everyone can use to rave or complain about their experiences with a company. Monitor social media and quickly respond to any complaint. Also, quickly thank customers who sing your praises. You can also use social media to ask your customers about what’s important to them and nurture relationships.

9. Convert complaints into opportunities

Everyone remembers the companies that handle their complaints with such concern for making the situation gone wrong into an experience that feels right. It’s interesting that what’s memorable is how great it felt to the customer that the brand went above and beyond to solve the problem, and not what went wrong in the first place. Be a hero to your customers when they complain and watch that same customer become your advocate.

10. Create a customer loyalty program

Rewarding customers for their patronage is a great way to develop their loyalty. Provide added value, special promos or offers that your customers want. The rewards need to be easy to earn and redeem. Keep things simple. Score more sales by rewarding your current customers and nurturing them to send referrals.

11. Host an event

Show your customer appreciation by hosting an event. An open house, after hours event or guest lectures can provide powerful incentives for your customers to spend more time with your company. Having fun and feeling valued has a way of bonding people tighter together. Events work whether they are virtual, like a podcast or live, like an open office social gathering.

12. Corporate social responsibility

Many customers choose to buy from brands that give back over brands that don’t. If your company already has a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, share progress and successes with your customers. If not, get one. Select a cause that is consistent with your brand and aligns with your customers’ values and interests.

13. Upsell and resell

Since you’re paying attention to how your customers are using the products or services they purchased from your company, you’ll know what’s important to them. When the time is right, offer and upgrade or replacement product that has high value and will help your customer achieve their goals.

Email marketing with calls to action and free demos or trials, just like regular marketing campaigns. Incent the customer to try new add ons, upgrades and eventually replacement purchases, in some industries.

Lifetime Value of Customer Calculator
Lifetime Value of Customer Calculator

 

Why getting referrals is harder than ever – how to get them now

Getting referrals is harder than it used to be. If 87% of happy customers intend to refer, why don’t they? What happened? Media changed, culture changed and how people interact has changed. We receive 105,000 words in 12 waking hours- 23 words per second! With 34 gigabytes a DAY coming in to us, our brains are full.

People have a hard time remembering everything they need to do for their own business. So they can’t remember to do something for your business too. Like send you a referral. And this is the problem – Getting top of mind awareness is harder than ever. The solution is to have a simple process for asking for referrals – and use it.

Download my free 3-step plan for getting more referrals.

We are competing with more messages than ever. Even when people INTEND to refer, they often forget. Successful businesses use an easy to follow process to convert those good intentions into sales.

Getting referrals isn’t just good for our business

Here’s the thing about getting referrals – it’s a way people give too. People love to help other people. And they love being a go-to resource for their friends. Who are we to deny them the joy of sending their friends to us?

People naturally enjoy connecting with others we know, like and trust. We rely on our relationships with others for referrals and recommendations. We feel good about ourselves when we help each other and when we are a resource others seek for recommendations.

In his blog post, “87% of your customers will give referral, if you just ask“, Michael Boyett suggests asking “for a specific introduction. Example: ‘Bill, I’ve wanted to connect with Martha Smith but haven’t had much success. You mentioned working with her. Would you be willing to introduce me to her?’

You know Bill knows Martha, so you are not wasting Bill’s time, but asking to connect. Think of the time and energy you’ll save.”

Ask for the introduction and if it’s appropriate, ask for the referral. Embed this into your customer experience and watch your business grow.

Whatever method you use for getting referrals, I encourage you to include these key elements:

  • Commit to consistently executing the plan
  • Hold yourself accountable
  • Regularly evaluate your referral process and improve it
Getting referrals can be as easy as 123
Download free 3-step template for turning on the flow of referrals from happy customers.

 

 

How to accelerate lead nurturing and turn on the flow of referrals

Part 2 of the Secret Weapon: Referral partners can amplify your sales.

You’ve asked, listened and begun nurturing those new contacts. Awesome! Want to learn what will speed the relationship developing process along faster so you can convert contacts into referral partners?

Here’s how to crank up your list of referral partners: Follow up until they “Buy or Die”!

80% of sales require seven follow-ups (and that number keeps climbing)   [Source: Scripted]
44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up  [Source: The Marketing Donut]

So, if you’re an entrepreneur looking to attract more clients, these numbers are eye-opening. This means it’s likely your competition won’t follow up as often as you will if you commit to five times. BOOM! Advantage, you!

Download the free 3 Step Plan to get more referral partners.

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If you’re a job seeker, this underscores the importance of persistence. While no one wants to be a pest, it’s in your best interest to follow up multiple times. Some HR experts say, “Follow up until they buy or die.”
People are just too busy to remember who they talked to and what action they promised. Those who rely on new contacts to do the follow-up are guaranteed disappointing results. Instead, proactive professionals who make a point to reconnect after introductions impress and succeed.

Staying connected is how you’ll nurture and build this relationship, so call or email with a brief message about how much you enjoyed talking with them and that you’d like to stay in touch. Mention something specific they talked about. Ask what social media they prefer and connect with them on those channels. LinkedIn is a given for most professionals, but find out if they like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest also. Most people have a couple of go-to channels they like.

People are more likely to respond to social media than an email, so take advantage of that and meet them where they are. Showing social love to your contacts will accelerate you rapidly towards your goal of accumulating referral partners to grow your business. Public admiration and validation is pure gold!

Check out my post “5 ways to get free leads on LinkedIn” and “Promote Your Business with Instagram” for specific tips.
You now have a platform for nurturing that new business relationship and expanding your network. Repost things they post, make comments (positive and insightful) and make sure you do it within the first week, and then every couple of weeks after that.
Network like a pro and watch the job opportunities and sales flow in, right? There’s a little more to it than that, of course. Once you have the strong referral network in place, you need to know how to ask for the referrals.

When you’re ready to build a full pipeline of referral partners, consider a the RAISE online sales course.

Learn more about RAISE online course

Follow up is the gold – From cold to sold to convert leads to sales

6 step process for follow-up after meeting a new contact
How to follow-up after making new contact.

Nice to meet you, now what. The steps you need to take to follow-up and convert those new contacts into customers produce the gold.

Well done. You went out there and connected with some new people. Networking can feel daunting and you did it anyway! And, now what? What’s the secret to converting that new contact into a referral relationship or customer? Knowing what to say and how to say it without sounding cheesy can be a challenge too.

Download this free eBook to get more ideas on how the pros follow-up and get more customers. “From Cold to Sold” 17 sales secrets for converting more leads to customers.

If you need to repeat it, automate it, as they say. So here’s the 6 step process I use and can recommend for you.

Follow-up is SO valuable for converting sales

  1. Always send a quick thank you email or text the same day or the next day at the latest. This shows respect for the other person’s time by prioritizing a follow up to the conversation right away. It is more important to send this quickly, rather than for it to be a comprehensive or long email.
  2. Be yourself. Authenticity is always a good approach. To pretty much everything. So, it’s not surprising that follow-up emails are no different. Since people feel good when you listen to them, include something key you heard the contact you just met say. Use your own “voice” and keep it professional. That doesn’t mean uptight, just respectful.
  3. Make a positive observation about the person, company or project that this contact mentioned. For example, comment on how you can see this work achieving the goals or being successful. This is more good evidence of your effective listening skills and which creates the know, like and trust factors
  4. Summarize the action items you agreed to do and include any you can in this email. So, if your follow-up action requires more time or a separate email, outline how and when you will complete it.
  5. Thank your new contact for the action items they offered. Because appreciation is always smart and it can be a helpful reminder to busy people who’s intentions are good and who’s schedules are full. They feel valued. And that is more know like and trust development:-)
  6. Connect with your new contact on LinkedIn, Twitter and perhaps Facebook. You’re building your network and broadening that connection to social media channels is too important to miss. 

Ready for more ideas on how to use follow-up to close more sales?

Need more customers? Download free! “From Cold to Sold”, the ebook with 17 secrets for getting more customers.

Download now

Now that you know the 6 steps to turn your follow-up into gold, go out there and convert more sales!

Do you have suggestions for making the follow up after making a new connection even better? Bring it! I’d love to see it, so share your comments below.

3 Steps For Awesome Relationship Building – Keys to Success

In the era of customer experience is king, successful relationship building is key. Some people are naturally gifted in this art and some are not. We are all different, which is what makes the world an interesting place.

So, if you don’t already have relationship building skills honed to a fine point, there’s no reason to feel badly about yourself. We can’t all be ace at everything. (For example, don’t ask me to file your taxes. Orange is definitely not my best color and I doubt it’s yours).

If you find that pleasing others interferes with your own happiness or success, you’re not alone. Many of us have a tendency to be people pleasers. And it doesn’t have to be a permanent condition:-) I’m a reforming pleaser and discovered steps that help me experience more joy and peace by reprioritizing my thoughts and actions. I share these steps in my ebook “Stop Pleasing Others and Get More Joy in Life” and invite you to download a free copy. Click the link below to get your free ebook:

Get my ebook FREE!

Relationship building skills can be learned.

Here are 3 simple and impactful steps I use to nurture relationships. Try them out and let me know how they work for you.

1. Ask.

Be intensely curious about people. Ask a lot of questions about them. For example:

  • How do enjoy life when you’re not working?
  • What projects are you working on right now?
  • How do you define success for yourself and your business?
  • What challenges are you dealing with?
  • What do you enjoy most and least about your work?

Since people love to talk about themselves, this is easier than you might think. Their answers will give you insight to what they care about and the problems you (or someone you know) may be able to help them solve. Showing an interest in someone is the ideal first step to great relationship building.

2. Listen.

Have you ever tried the experiment of listening more than you talk in a conversation? If you have, did the person you were “talking” with say, “You are so easy to talk to”? If you haven’t, try it out sometime. The results can be a fascinating illustration of how much people love feeling heard.

Because people enjoy focusing on themselves (and that’s not a bad thing) it’s naturally a good thing to let them share ideas and insights with you.  It’s a human thing to connect, share, listen and feel heard. When you’re building relationships with humans, understanding this quality is invaluable. We are wired to connect and share our thoughts, ideas, feelings and experiences with people.

3. Reconnect.

Now that you have established some rapport and discovered what your contact values, the most important step is to follow-up with them. Staying connected is how you’ll nurture and build this relationship. Call or email with a brief message about how much you enjoyed talking with them and that you’d like to stay in touch. I also suggest mentioning something specific they talked about.

Also ask what social media they prefer and connect with them on those channels. LinkedIn is a given for most professionals, but find out if they like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest also. Most people have a couple of go-to channels they like.

The magic of successful relationship building is to continue nurturing.

Now you have a platform for nurturing that new business relationship. Use social media to develop your new relationships by liking, reposting and making comments (positive and insightful, never negative). I suggest doing this within the first week, and then at least every couple of weeks after that.

Finally, since nurturing a relationship takes time, stay in touch with your new contact by email or text regularly. You don’t want to stalk your new contact, but you do want to stay in touch. so I suggest checking in with them every month or so.

Finally, for more tips on ways to ramp your success, subscribe here . You can have a look at “Three Things Successful Entrepreneurs Do First Thing in the Morning”.

400% Increase in Referrals – The Success Story Video

Referrals are awesome! You know you’ve done a good job nurturing business relationships when your referral rate goes up by 400%!  That’s what one business coaching client saw as a result of the marketing and social media efforts. Watch the video below to see how we did it!

Hint: We didn’t have a marketing budget or dedicated marketing person. I worked with my client to create a plan that HE could implement and feel GOOD about. At first, he was worried he would dread contacting colleagues in his industry to network. He thought, “Ugh, I hate calling people to ASK them for something.”  We needed a plan my for building up referrals that my client could enjoy. Sound familiar? I knew the secret to his success would be making this process easy…and maybe even fun.

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Getting Referrals Can Be FUN – Really!

I’m serious. Connecting with other people in your field can and should be fun. Referrals are so crucial to the success of most entrepreneurs and yet, I find many business owners avoid networking like the plague.

Social media can be a great way to expand your network. It can also be a tremendous way to waste precious time, so learning how to use social platforms efficiently is the key to success. In my recent post, “The 1 Thing to Do on Social Media Today”,  I outline how to focus your content on the highest value you can deliver to your prospect.

LinkedIn offers very powerful tools for finding new potential referral partners and prospects. The advanced sear tool is incredible  – but using it can be overwhelming. To unlock how to use LinkedIn’s search tool to find more referral partners and leads, click here.

Do you have some techniques that work really well to grow referral networks? Share them below in your comments.