A Bird in the Hand is Worth Four in the Bush
We talk a lot about creating demand, generating leads and acquiring customers in this blog. But marketers also need to focus on customer retention. Consider this: most sales organizations close about one out of every four qualified opportunities. So that means if you have a recurring revenue model, then every customer is worth four “in the bush” or four qualified sales opportunities. If you’re like most B2B companies with complex sales processes, you’re probably converting only 1 out of every 20-50 marketing qualified leads into a fully qualified, forecasted sales opportunity. So that existing customer is worth hundreds in the bush. (You can find typical B2B lead conversion rates here.)
Yet most marketing organizations don’t nurture existing customer relationships. Sure, an account manager is assigned and stays in touch, and Marketing sends press releases announcing new products and customers. But rarely does Marketing produce content specifically for nurturing and expanding existing customer relationships.
So here are 6 ways you can nurture existing relationships, keep them apprised of new ways they can benefit from your services, [highlight to share] and even get their help in nurturing your sales prospects.
1. Help Them Get Maximum Value from Your Products
Most clients use only a fraction of the full capabilities of vendor-supplied technology. Marketing can help clients get maximum value from their investments. Develop anonymous use cases describing how clients are leveraging underutilized functionality. Share interesting case studies that demonstrate functionality. Hold client-only webinars that train them in using various features. The more your clients use and benefit from your technology, the more “sticky” they become. This also presents opportunities to expand your “wallet share” in the account by demonstrating capabilities they may not have licensed.
2. Forward Useful Information
I guarantee that your clients struggle to keep up on all the relevant industry news. Most will appreciate it if you alert them to articles that might interest them. At the same time, I’m betting that someone in your organization is monitoring the news on a daily basis, and it wouldn’t take much to broaden their focus and curate content for your customers.
Start by doing some audience research to find out what the various segments of your customer base are interested in. Create buyer personas so you know who will be interested in what types of stories. Then curate relevant news articles they may have missed.
On a weekly or bi-weekly basis, send a newsletter with a collection of brief summaries along with links to the articles. This should be relevant industry news, not a self-serving newsletter where all the articles focus on your company. But it would be fine to intersperse one or two articles that cover your company. Verne Harnish is really good at this. Check out his weekly newsletter for inspiration on how you can use this technique (and you might get some useful business ideas too).
3. Check in Consistently
Make sure account managers are checking in regularly with all the client’s stakeholders to get feedback. Even when things are going well, clients appreciate a call or note. It demonstrates that your company truly cares about their success. A call to make sure everything is going OK is always appreciated.
When the account manager encounters negative feedback or a request, make sure that your organization promptly deals with the issue and follows up.
4. Send Thank You Notes
Email is pervasive today, but few executives get much personal “snail mail.” A hand written thank you note telling someone you appreciate their business can be a pleasant surprise. So don’t wait for the holidays to send a note.
If you have a lot of customers, services like SendOutCards can be very useful. [highlight to share] You can upload a database, create a hand-written note, and they automate the process of printing, addressing and sending out the cards. If someone looks closely, they’ll see that it’s done by computer, but most people still appreciate the thought. You can also customize the notes on each card. I sometimes use this service for holiday cards.
5. Invite Them to Your Events
If you are running online or live events focused on industry issues, remember to invite your clients. [highlight to share] Satisfied clients are your best sales people at networking events. In this era of reduced conference and travel budgets, we find that people in the capital markets are ever more interested in attending local live events where they can get some free education, a cocktail and a chance to network.
We’ve been helping clients organize exclusive round tables, and their clients always appreciate a seat at the table.
6. Help Them With Their Marketing Goals
Your clients have their own marketing and earned media goals. Fin-tech vendors often fail to customer sign-off to do case studies because clients expect vendors to focus only on the vendor’s messaging objectives and not on the client’s marketing needs. When you align your marketing goals with your client’s goals, you can often gain their enthusiastic cooperation. [highlight to share]
Start by talking with your client’s head of marketing and communications. Find out what they’re trying to achieve. Prop shops might not cooperate, but most other financial firms will at least talk to you. If you’re creative and collaborative, you’ll be sure to come up with ideas for marketing campaigns that advance both companies’ agendas.
For example, last year, we were doing case studies for a fin-tech vendor and wanted to get a couple exchanges to talk about how they used the vendor’s product. I started out by talking to the exchanges’ marketing heads to find out how they promote their companies. Then I created a messaging strategy that focused on helping them achieve that. As a result, we were able to publish detailed case studies about each client in multiple trade publications. The case studies made the client the hero and reinforce their messaging to their audience. As a result of the collaboration, the exchanges got great coverage as did our client, the vendor. This strengthened the relationships between the firms.
We’ve had similar success in doing joint webinars with clients. Two vendors who had recently partnered wanted to promote their partnership, so we brought them together to do a webinar. A broker/dealer client of one of the vendors attended, and asked to do another similar webinar for their client base. So we did a second webinar, marketed to the broker’s much larger and better qualified list. Because it met everyone’s marketing goals, it was easy to get this approved, and the endorsement it gave our fin-tech vendor clients was priceless.
So remember to nurture your clients. The ROI of retaining an existing customer is higher than that of attracting 50 new marketing qualified leads. [highlight to share]
If you’d like to talk about strategies for nurturing your client relationships, I’m happy to schedule time to discuss. You can call me at +1 970.300.2280 or email me (cedelen (at) propelgrowth.com) to schedule an appointment.
In the meantime, here are some related articles that you might find helpful:
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