Without clients there is no business.
But too many businesses add as many clients as they can, as quickly as they can, before they build the right framework. If one of your business goals is sustainability, building the right infrastructure (see the post Behind the Scenes- What is Really Going On) and focusing on strategies designed to develop loyal clients will result in a stronger outcome.
The more closely we get to know our clients, the better we can serve them. The better we serve them, the more likely they will spend more with us and the more probable it is that they will refer others.
The numbers tell us that it is significantly less expensive to sell additional products and services to current clients than to develop and close new clients. But if the focus is on getting new clients- the old ones are often overlooked.
The objective should be to get to know your clients so well that they begin to share their challenges and long-term goals. When you begin to understand what your clients are trying to accomplish, you can begin to help them come up with solutions. Working jointly with your clients to help them create the future puts you in a different light. As partners it becomes easier to grow together.
If you want to develop a long-term client is it important to continually work on getting closer. One way to do this is by staying in touch on a regular basis- even when they don’t have any immediate needs in order to learn more about their goals.
One of the best tools to help manage client relationships is a client database. In large companies the core of many office automation systems is a Client Relationship Management system (CRM). The good news is that even the smallest businesses can afford and benefit from a client database, or CRM.
A CRM database is designed to keep information about contacts and if updated can be used in a number of interesting ways:
Customer loyalty- A CRM alert system can remind you to keep in touch with clients on a regular basis-to check in, assess client satisfaction and identify new needs. You can do things like schedule an annual survey, a bi-annual meeting, or a quarterly follow-up phone call.
Single point of contact – clients benefit from one stop convenient, accessible, and personalized customer service. A CRM system can give individuals in your business a consolidated view of the customer e.g. providing customer service representatives (or anyone dealing with clients) with the data necessary for immediate, reliable customer request fulfillment and problem resolution.
Client data can be leveraged to:
- Up sell and cross sell
- Identify and cultivate the most profitable customers
- Streamline processes to achieve cost savings
- Identify areas where improvements are needed
CRM systems run the gamut from simple ‘off the shelf’ applications to complex multi-million dollar systems. Choose one that is right for your business.
With a combination of technology, human interaction and genuine interest you will be on the road to developing clients who want to grow along with you. A true sign of having developed a loyal customer is when they include you in their long-range planning to be part of the solution for their changing needs.
Written by Helene Mazur
Helene is the founder of Princeton Performance Dynamics, a business coaching and strategic planning facilitation company for business and non-profit leaders and their teams. Helene’s passion is helping her clients to focus their goals, see new perspectives on their current situation, put in place realistic, motivating plans, and execute to achieve new levels of success.
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