Dave Brock has written two insightful Blogs into Customer Retention.
In a recession your ability to keep and grow
existing Customers is the difference between
Business success and failure.
How do you set a Good Sales Defence Strategy?
I can no more give you a Formula,
than the plan that Napoleon had that ended in his ignominious retreat from Moscow,
instead of the victory parade in he planned.
Sales Defence Strategy will be determined by
YOU, your Customer and the Competition.
The factors in formulating a good defence are building high walls, in business this is “Barriers to Entry”, or at the very least a very high Cost of Entry. IBM, was very successful in this by using proprietary software, in the 1980’s if you wanted the software, it only ran on an IBM Computer. Open-architecture, and Plug-Compatibility put an end to this approach!
What are today’s ‘Barriers to Entry’?
Functionality can be a barrier
If you do what the Customer wants done, and others cannot do it, then you can defend the Account.
However, relying on USP’s and Functionality alone is, no more than, a short term defence,
it won’t last, the Competition will catch-up, they may even leap frog you! [Blackberry]
Today’s barriers are Customer Experience.
That is, in great part, how Sales sold the first deal.
What were the “Expectations” of the Customer,
what are their current “Perceptions” of their experience?
How satisfied are they with your Value delivery?
In planning a ‘Defensive’ Sales Strategy, you MUST listen to the “voice” of the Customer.
One way is in Complaints Handling, if these are well done,
then you create a Positive ‘voice’,
if handled poorly then it’s a Negative ‘voice’.
Financial Barriers, can be the hardest to erect
And, during recession this can be the weakest point in your defence.
This is not only PRICE, but is VALUE as well.
A well-defended account, will have kept a ‘Customer Perceived’ Value REGISTER,
showing the Financial BENEFITS, which the Customer expected and they perceived that we delivered.
This is NOT a wall you want to try and erect AFTER you are under attack!
That is called ‘Panic Discounting’, a paper thin wall, offering little or no defence.
Relationships are the third wall in Sales Defensive Strategy.
We know that you cannot Sell on Relationships alone,
nor will you be able to defend on relationships alone.
But, they are a vital part of Defence! A good Account Defence, is based on a broad set of Sales-Customer relationships, from the front desk Receptionist through to the CEO.
The front desk may well be your first ‘early warning’ of Competitive Activity in the Account.
Build an ever growing network inside your Customer,
connect them back into your Company, KEEP ON SELLING!
When I conduct Customer Retention Strategy Workshops,
I always ask the same starting question:
What would you do to win this account?
We spend a lot of time working out the BEST competitive Acquisition Strategy against us,
then, and only then, do we begin formulating our Customer Retention Strategy,
to hold onto [and often Develop] our Customer.
Just a final note, I was at Burroughs [now Unisys] when they adopted the Tactic of Hunters and Farmers.
Against IBM and Hewlett Packard this was a DISASTER,
as fast as our Hunters Won new Business,
our Farmers Lost existing business.