It takes a lot of effort, time and money to land a new client. The process can be downright painful at times. It’s interesting though, that most company’s strategy is to finish that first project and then start the grind all over again looking for the next new relationship.
I’m thinking, why throw a potential long-lasting engagement down the drain? Why not put a plan in place to turn those one-off projects into retainers? If that piques your interest, here are five ideas to incorporate into your soon-to-be-in-play retainer strategy:
Constantly Reintroduce Yourself
Suppose you run a marketing agency and you are providing print material services to a client. Does the client know you also offer social media strategies, email marketing, web design and copywriting? Sure you mentioned those services at the initial sales meeting. But now its months down the road. Do you think they still remember? Are those services still in their consciousness? Will your company name come to front-and-center in their mind at the very moment they need one of those other services, if you’re lucky?
Why not head off this problem? Create a system whether by email, social media or with a newsletter, that constantly reintroduces clients to your service offerings. Perhaps in the first month you talk about the company’s prowess doing email marketing. The next month you shift to discussing your tactics for generating leads using social media. Keep this process going all year perhaps sending something out monthly or bi-monthly. Remember to always stay benefit focused. Highlight the results you produced for someone else? Forget about features and functions. Those discussions come later in the sales process. When you have covered talking about all the services the company offers start over.
Be a Fly-on-the-Wall
Keep an ear to the social media conversations and trends taking place. How does what’s happening effect your clients? When you come across interesting headlines do you read the article or posting and then move on to the next author or blogger? Why not pass a link off to the clients that could benefit most from knowing that information? It doesn’t take much time or effort to be a newsagent for your clients. When you happen across an industry influencer do you pass that name along to the clients that could benefit most from that person’s perspective?
Clients will admire your approach. They’ll think – Wow, this guy is thinking about my business day and night. She’s even thinking about my business when we’re not even doing business.
Scout the Competition
Perform some due diligence on your client’s competition. When you see them in a place where your client does not have a presence, mention the fact. When you come across announcements made by competitors let your clients know. I’m not talking about spending a lot of time and effort. Just keep your antenna up. When you come across something of interest to a particular client pass it along. Don’t squander the opportunity. Passing the information along may actually lead to a conversation – a conversation that leads to more work.
Occasionally Circle Back
Stay abreast of what your client’s are up to – past and present. Set some time aside every month to reacquaint you with what your client’s activities. Take a quick review of their website. Have they announced any new products or services? Are they attending any trade shows in the near future? What’s happening in their In The News section? Any Press Releases being sent out? What chatter can you find in the social media communities?
Once you understand what changes have taken place the next step is to think about how the newly gained insight can be leveraged. Is there a current service offering that can be expanded upon or customized to fit their needs? Is there a way to up-sell or cross-sell the client?
Be a Good Listener
Customers give up a lot of information during a face-to-face talk – are you listening, watching, looking around? Think of yourself on a recon (reconnaissance mission) instead of a sales meeting. Be alert as you move from the front door to the conference room or private office. What do you notice about employee morale or the culture? What’s on the walls? Are there awards on a table or showcase?
What’s the person you’re meeting with into, sports memorabilia, auto racing, kids in the family, personal awards or commendations? What floats this person’s boat? Being able to have a personal connection can’t hurt the relationship.
During the conversations, listen to what pain points or problems people mention. Is there a way you can help even though the issue may be out of your area of expertise? Can you refer someone that can assist? The company will see you as a problem solver.
In closing, remember in everything you do communicate value. It’s why companies should do business with you and not the competition.