Last week’s episode was about the stress that happens when you’re trying to make a proposal and how to avoid relying on that one piece of paper in order to make the sale. This week, in part two, I’m going to dig deeper into something that...
Last week’s episode was about the stress that happens when you’re trying to make a proposal and how to avoid relying on that one piece of paper in order to make the sale. This week, in part two, I’m going to dig deeper into something that most service providers, entrepreneurs, coaches, and others who are making service-based sales don’t often think about: client retention and the impact it has on your income and profit.
You may think that the only way to generate more income and increase your revenue and profit, is to get more clients in your business. But sometimes getting more clients is actually not the way to go because that's what leads to burnout, stress, and getting overwhelmed. Hello, spread thin entrepreneur!
A better way to increase your sales is to build stronger relationships and get more profit share from the clients you already have. When you have multiple clients, you have to understand multiple different businesses but at some point, if you're a service provider, it's just not scalable. And if you're selling an online course, a membership, or you're selling high-ticket sales, then it's really a matter of having a great client list, going deeper with them and getting more wallet share.
Client retention is often one of the most overlooked assets in a small business owner's portfolio. And by portfolio, I mean the portfolio of things that you, as a small business owner, are doing on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Most entrepreneurs have sales growth on their to-do list and you might even have measurable outcomes that have to do with sales, but it's not common to see entrepreneurs who associate client retention tasks with growing their profit . And I wonder, is it even something you think about?
When you have a service-based business, (copywriting services, podcast agency services, social media services, etc)., retention is a really big part of that. Because even as you grow, if you lose too many clients, then it won't feel like growth at all. Retention must be on your list.
While some entrepreneurs don’t think about retention at all, there are other business owners who stress about this all day long and equate client retention to customer service. But, the fact is, even the best customer service does not guarantee client retention. It’s really a matter of building customer loyalty. And that is not only based on the services you provide, but it’s based on you creating the ‘stickiness’ so that your clients aren’t just clients. Sure, they’re happy and they’ve been wow’d by your service. But you don't just want a happy client, you want a loyal client that will refer you to others over and over again. That’s how your business grows.
A lot of people think that in order to create happy and loyal customers you need to provide services 24/7/365. If your client is emailing you at 10 o'clock at night on Sunday, you may feel like you need to respond right away, even though you're busy trying to live your life. But, that's not necessarily going to make the difference. What will make a difference is when you start realizing that client retention leads to more business, more referrals, and more loyalty. When you look at it as a sales tool.
So just like you sold them in the beginning, you need to continue to “sell them” on staying with you. As an entrepreneur, you should always be selling. But, it doesn't mean you need to be salesy. Salesy is never a good thing. Ask yourself: How close are you becoming with your clients? Are you developing a solid relationship? How much value are you offering? How much value do your clients perceive?
You don’t have to get close on a personal level if you don’t want to, but getting personal and creating an actual real relationship helps. Because most people like to buy from people they like. So why not be liked by them? Why not have an actual relationship with them that makes business more fun? Plus, it’s way more fun to do business with people you like!
What are you doing on a continuous basis to show your clients the value that you're delivering? For example, if you’re an ad agency, and you’re getting paid on a monthly retainer, then you need to show the results you're getting for them each month - what were your goals, did you meet them, what are you going to do to get there faster, better, stronger, etc. Instead of just being the busy bee worker in the background, stay in touch with your clients regularly to let them know the progress of the work you’re doing for them. Doing so will make everything clear about what has been done so far and what still needs to be done to hit the goals faster, effectively, and efficiently.
Let the data tell the story. When I was working in software sales, I had an account manager on my team and the account manager would do account reviews with my clients. Then, I would show up to all account reviews after talking to the account manager in advance. During the meeting, we would look at the actual data to see how they were doing. Then, the account manager and I would strategize on what the next plan would look like, and what they need to do to move forward over the next three months, six months, next year. We were constantly reconfiguring it based on their data so that we could get them the best results in the fastest way.
Now, you may be wearing all the hats where you are both the account manager and the salesperson, but you need to make sure you are seen as a trusted advisor. And the best way to do that is, to be honest.
Therefore, you need to be looking at the actual data so that you can make informed decisions with regards to the next step that you and your customer need to take. And when you speak from the data, it's going to be so much easier. There are so many freelancers and service providers out there who are not even having these data-driven meetings. What kind of data-driven meeting do you need to start incorporating into your day so you can focus on client retention?
While answering a text message late at night or on the weekend and going above and beyond is great, it does not secure client loyalty. It might add to overall satisfaction and it might help, but in order to improve client loyalty, present the results you’re getting for your clients, sell and resell your clients by showing them the progress and doing things that remind them why they hired you and how you're getting the job done. When done right, your clients won’t have any reason to talk to your competitors because you're constantly presenting them the data that they need to know and show them that together, you are achieving great results.