Business development has become cool. Social media profiles are filled with entrepreneurs and wannabes talking about hustling for new clients, taking big meetings and making moves. Biz dev has become such a sexy buzzword that it feels like it should be used in dating profiles. While cost of acquisition makes for heated discussion on Shark Tank, it totally ignores the importance of customer relationships, keeping customers happy after you earn them.
A Millions Ways To Prospect
There are countless books, sales systems and coaching programs outlining the best ways to go after new customers. How many times should you email a prospect? What’s the best way to cold call? How should you negotiate the best deal? Ring that bell! Get that sale!
Meanwhile, those customers that you’ve already earned? The ones that are actually paying you money? The ones that you’ve already acquired and could probably gain more business from at little or no additional cost? Your referral stream?
Addicted To The Chase
When starting up a new business, there is little that’s more thrilling than landing the deal. Getting that “yes” and celebrating victory is what keeps business owners pushing forward despite all of the disappointments and sacrifices. Starting up a business, and keeping it growing, depends on a healthy channel of new business. But, that often becomes an addiction that keeps aspiring entrepreneurs chasing after new biz, while neglecting existing customers.
In the stock market, if you suffer a 50% loss, it takes a 100% gain to earn back those losses. Customer retention is the same way. Losing an existing customer, with all of the time invested in that relationship, can be equal to two or many more new customers.
Customer Relationships Really Matter
If you are in client services, you should spend at least as much time developing your existing customer relationships as you did earning them. Even if you are in regular contact with your clients during the course of daily business, find time to ask about new needs they may have. Strong communication with your clients not only maintains your business, but gives you opportunities to find new ways to serve them. Happy customers are also an amazing source of referrals.
The point is, that first “yes” isn’t the end of anything. It’s the beginning of creating a new relationship that you want to last for years. Stay focused on delivering what you promised. Continually look for new ways to bring additional value to the relationship. Can you provide more for the same money? Can you lower their costs while maintaining the same quality? Always think of ways that you gave more, long after you’ve made the sale.
Not Internet Famous, Just Successful
Give your clients free advice in your field of expertise. Connect them to other partners that could bring value to their business. Let them know about opportunities they may have missed. Find ways to bring value to your relationship outside of the regular work that you do and bill for. Be special and unique, so they wouldn’t dream of leaving that relationship for anyone else.
Having amazing, long-term client relationships isn’t something people give keynotes about. It doesn’t look as good in your hustle culture Instagram bio. No one gets Internet famous doing it. But, it’s the basis of building a solid, growing and successful company.