During these uncertain times, is it possible that some of your customer’s are less likely to switch loyalties to another supplier, even if that supplier ‘might’ offer some advantages?
Do you see customer loyalty on the rise? Some of my clients do and have expressed this view to me recently.
One client recently passed this story along: when his sales force blitzes a new territory for their product line, out of 300+ contacts they now only yield 1 or 2% new customers! In the past this was apparently much higher. And get this, he wasn’t referring to a direct-mail blitz, but rather, personal contacts in the field. His company has earned a stellar reputation in the marketplace, and has among the highest quality as well as lowest price points, but still finds receptivity to doing business with a new supplier much more difficult to achieve.
What factors may be driving increased customer loyalty today? Well, according to some studies (Harvard Business Review, July-Aug 2009) trust in business is running much lower than in previous years.
So, if decision-makers trust other businesses less, doesn’t it seem possible that they might be less likely to consider switching to new vendors? While resistance to changing suppliers has always been evident in competitive B2B markets, it may just be on the rise.
Fortunately, there are some ways you can ride this wave of mistrust and come out ahead.
7 Ways to Keep Existing Customers and/or Land New Ones:
- Find ways to build and earn more trust in the initial phase of your sales cycle with prospects. Offer to do lunch and learns, provide case studies of your results, provide a steady stream of customer testimonials.
- Give the sales cycle longer intervals than in the past. If your sales cycle is six months, give it nine or twelve when soliciting a prospect who has never done business with your company before now.
- Work hard to earn the trust of your current customers. Realize that new competitors are likely entering your marketplace in search of business, due to declining sales in their own niche. Ramp up your efforts to retain current customers.
- Create and deliver new, added value to your existing customers—making it more difficult for competitors to woo them away.
- Regularly dialogue with your customers. Find out if there are ways you can improve your deliverables, then do it. This will help solidify their loyalties down the road.
- Aggressively manage your sales and marketing efforts. Difficult times call for new, creative problem solving if you expect to remain competitive in the future.
- Turn your sales force (or advertising agency/marketing department) into a gatherer of market-driven information that can aid your strategy development. Marketplace advantages enjoy shorter lifecycles and must be replaced with new, more effective ones.
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Mark Holmes helps companies increase sales, service and employee performance. He utilizes twenty-four years of experience advising, training, and coaching some of America’s most successful small and large companies. His ideas on employee retention, employee motivation, customer service and leadership have been widely featured in major national media like FOX, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, BNET and The Wall Street Journal.