By Ryan Dohrn
Here is eye-opening advice from an expert sales coach on the importance of a customer retention program – something associations often overlook.
We have all been there before: A customer cancels their advertising contract for no apparent reason.You call them! No return call. You email them! No return email. You speculate.You wonder. You lost.
So, what now? You can blame others, or you can fix the issue.
Let's cut straight to the point. What is your customer retention plan?
As part of an ad sales training and ad sales coaching program, your association should spend a considerable amount of time talking through this question.Why? Because it is easier to retain a customer than find a new one.
Here is the main point: You need to work as hard to keep your association's sponsors and advertising customers as you did to earn their business in the first place.
To make this statement a reality, you need to know how much time you spend acquiring just one customer. Let's explore a simple customer acquisition scenario.
- John Doe is a customer that you just lost for no apparent reason.
- You prospected him for three months at approximately one hour per week.
- Add in your meetings to close the deal.
- Your total time acquiring John Doe was about 16 hours.
In the last year, did you spend close to 16 hours retaining John Doe? I bet the answer is no. Just to be clearâ€¦ You can count a certain amount of customer service time toward that 16 hours. But, how many hours did you spend on non-sales communication with John?
If you only reach out to customers as the sales rep, you will always be seen as just a sales rep. Customers will be less likely to answer your calls. Customers will be less likely to return your emails. Customers will be less likely to build relationships with you on a level that is required to retain them for the long term.
Here are several things to consider when creating a customer retention program:
- How much of your ad sales profit will you re-invest in this program? To determine this, calculate how much money you spend acquiring one new customer.
- Who at your organization will champion this program? No champion. No success.
- Are all customers equal in the program? Meaning. Do you offer more incentives to those that spend more with you?
- What about customer appreciation parties or special gatherings at trade shows? Do you host lunch with your customers? Or attend seminars with and for your customers?
- Have you considered offering monthly sales or business coaching to your customers? You have a ton of expertise to share, and they want it â€” trust me.
- What about a monthly conference call or webinar for your customers? You could feature an expert on a certain topic like social media or web design.
- What about exclusive events or retreats? Sounds expensive? Hmmm! What does replacing a customer cost?
- VIP call-in lines? Can you offer exclusive access to a human at your organization when the customer calls in?
The important take away should be this: All organizations– no matter the size – need some type of customer retention program.
So, where do you begin? Open up a discussion with the association's sales team as a start.
Ryan Dohrn is a global media sales coach and trainer with 360 Ad Sales. He works with over 50 media companies, associations, and event managers and has trained over 3,000 ad sales people in seven countries.