We have all heard that it costs most businesses five to ten times more to gain a new customer than it does to keep one they already have. So why, as sales managers, do we have such an easy time forgetting it?
There are probably a few reasons, but we aren’t alone in our culpability. Because finding new business is the key growth in any organization or industry, few things set CEOs and board members on fire quite like the prospect of shiny new accounts. In fact, if there’s one thing you’re likely to hear from the men and women that are farther up the hierarchy, it’s that they would like your sales team to do everything possible to bring in new business.
Nevertheless, It’s important that you don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees. Existing customers are the lifeblood of your business, and if you have trouble remembering that, think about it this way: what would you do if your dozen best clients left tomorrow?
For most companies, that scenario would spell disaster. And luckily, it’s probably not all that likely. Still, as the sales manager, one of your key roles is to ensure that your sales team doesn’t lose accounts. One great way to do that is by conducting regular customer business reviews.
How often you should hold customer business reviews depends quite a bit on your industry and relationships. What is critical, however, is that they be separate from your normal sales calls. What you’re looking to do is set appointments with the men and women who decide to buy from you regularly and see how things are going, not only with your service, but with their careers and organizations in general.
There are two important caveats when it comes to customer business reviews: first, make it clear that you’re showing up just to see what’s new, not to offer them anything in particular. Again, you don’t want your review to come across as a thinly-veiled sales pitch. And secondly, it’s important that the rep who manages the account take the lead during the meeting. You need to be there, obviously, but at the same time you don’t want to diminish your sales person’s standing with the client. You’re just there as an observer to make sure everyone is happy, and to answer any questions that your rep might not be able to.
At a time when more and more businesses are shifting their customer service operations overseas, and account managers are having to service more clients than ever, taking the time to conduct a customer business review is a great client retention strategy. It shows the people who buy from you that you care enough to listen, and that you’re committed to maintaining a relationship that will go the distance.
Take the time to find out what’s going on with the accounts your department serves. It’s probably going to cost you some of your time and attention, but not nearly as much as finding a new set of buyers would.