It works: increasing customer retention activities by just 5% can lead to an increase in revenue anywhere from 25% to 95%. So, why are most client growth strategies super-fixated on new client acquisition?
But wait, hold up, first things first...what is a client growth strategy and how does it grow your business?
Well, it has 3 parts: 1. Customer Acquisition; 2. Customer Awareness and 3. Customer Retention.
Of course we all need new clients to keep growing. But a lot of us forget to get the maximum benefit out of our existing client base and to hold onto the people we already serve.
We focus on Part 1 and 2 of the client growth strategy, never realizing there’s a pathway to a shorter sales cycle and more revenue.
We all need to get maximum bang for buck out of our business development strategies these days. That’s why I created a simple three-step approach primarily focused on retaining customers, which I suggest is your best, cost-savings option for business development and client management today.
I can recommend three progressive tactics—complete with written-for-you email templates, —that will help you do what needs doing.
The idea is to:
1. Seed and/or build relationships
2. Re-engage lost clients
3. Get referrals in a non-icky way
Here’s how to do this, why it works, and where to get the email templates that will make this way easier than you think it should be.
Why retain customers and build relationships?
As I mentioned, I’ve already covered this in a previous post, but I’ll explain briefly why your client growth strategy needs to focus on customer retention processes for growth.
When you consider business development, it’s typical to fixate on attracting new clients. Customer attraction and acquisition get all the glory! But in truth, retaining customers and building more valuable relationships with them is a much more cost-effective approach. It costs 5 times more to acquire a new client than to retain existing clients. Reduce churn, ensure sustainability, period.
That’s why the process I’m about to show you is mostly focused on leveraging the benefits you can get from customer relationships you already have.
Before I do that, I should explain something regarding the email templates I’m going to provide several links for. Since this is designed as a three-part process, all of the links in this post are going to lead you to a place where you can start that process. The first email template will be delivered to you right away. The second and third templates are timed to arrive when you need them because you will have had an appropriate amount of time to complete the previous steps. In this way, the process provides gentle accountability nudges.
But just so you understand how the process works, I’ll explain it here:
Step one: seed and build relationships
In this step, you will be inviting someone to a virtual coffee date. This is a gentle, low-pressure way to plant the seed that just might grow into a beautiful client relationship.
You are going to:
1. Identify someone in your network (or social media channel) to seed a relationship. Is this individual similar in particular ways to clients you love working with? Is this someone whom your client would work with before they need your service?
2. Send them a customized note that builds rapport. (Get that here.)
3. Ask if they would like to connect for a short chat—and I do mean short. Believe me, someone is much more likely to say yes to 20 minutes versus 30 minutes.
4. Include a calendar link in your email to make booking the time effortless. You always want that call to action to be immediately actionable.
5. Pro Non-Icky Tip: Give them a way out. This is where reducing the ick factor comes in. For example: "If now is not the right time, I totally understand". Takes away any pressure!
Step two: re-engage lost clients
In this step, you will be reviving a previously positive relationship with a client that, for whatever reason, has gone inactive. Nothing terrible happened between you…you just haven’t been in touch with one another. Because you aren’t necessarily top of mind for this client, you may be missing out on business they’d potentially love to give you.
You are going to:
1. Identify clients that at one time had a positive experience with you.
2. Homework time: review their social media channels in order to identify a business reason to re-connect. Have they launched a new product? Are they encountering challenges?
3. Send an email that lets them known you’ve been paying attention—in a wonderfully non-icky way! Invite them to a call. (Get that email here.)
4. Pro Non-Icky Tip: Be transparent in your email. Be straightforward. Just let them know you potentially have something they’re looking for.
Step three: ask for referrals
In this step, you’re going to ask for referrals from someone you haven't talked to in a while. And, yes, we’re going to make it non-icky!
1. Remember that, in addition to clients, you can ask for referrals from friends, family members, past colleagues, team members from volunteer activities…sky’s the limit.
2. Send them a customized email that builds rapport. (Get that customizable template here.)
3. If there is an "elephant in the room", name it. And right now, there definitely is one, and it’s the size of the global economy. Call it out to create an authentic connection. Don’t worry; my email template has some verbiage to delicately address this issue.
4. Be clear and transparent about what you are asking for. If it helps, remember that people generally want to help out. They just need you to lead the way. Once again, I’ve got some good language in the template that will start you off.
5. Pro Non-Icky Tip: Once again, give them a way out! For example: "If you can’t think of anyone, that’s totally fine.”
6. Another Pro Non-Icky Tip: Offer to return the favour. Ask if there is anybody in your circle they’d like to connect with.
Is this a crazy time? Yes, absolutely…the craziest! But is this a time when business development should ground to a halt? No. It really doesn’t need to.
Business development is about relationships. And our need for relationships is stronger than ever. Yes, that includes business relationships. We truly need each other to grow stronger and generate value in this new economic world.
My three suggestions for retaining customers and building beautiful relationships with them will help you to do what you need to do. And it will allow you to be maximally non-icky in your business development during a tricky period of time.
It’s super easy: all the steps are there, along with email templates, arriving in timed chunks so you can complete them without overwhelm. Here it is; let me lead you by the hand.
I believe in you. I believe in your business. Let strong relationships sustain you during this time of uncertainty.