Business-to-business (B2B) sales professionals put a great deal of energy into finding and wooing prospects. If you’re successful, those prospects will eventually become clients. From that point on, your goal is to retain them as clients by carefully nurturing these relationships! Obviously, retaining clients is a critical part of success in B2B sales and overall business. It requires time, hard work, ingenuity, and attention to detail.
Here are five tips that can help you hold onto your clients.
Tip 1: Study the Client's Business
Know the business goals, needs, strengths and weaknesses of your clients. Be sincere in your efforts. Learn about their industry and competitors. You should be able to make suggestions or respond to questions about your products’ suitability for their business. For example, if new government regulations have been implemented affecting your client’s business, you should know whether the products you supply to the client are fully compliant.
Tip 2: Anticipate Possible Problems
Don’t wait for niggling annoyances to develop to the point where they derail the relationship with your clients. If you become aware that your client is troubled by something, investigate and then do whatever you can to defuse the situation. For instance, if the client is angry because deliveries aren’t being made according to schedule, immediately alert your manager to the problem. You should strive to be proactive rather than reactive.
Tip 3: Be a Valuable Resource for the Client
Not only should you make yourself available when the client wishes to place an order or do other business with you, be their encyclopedia of product information and their advisor on product selection. Return their phone calls and emails promptly, and follow through when you promise to do anything for them.
Tip 4: Be Your Client's Advocate
Be willing to represent your clients within your organization, and even outside it. Relay their requests and queries to the appropriate personnel and promptly report back. For example, if the client has experienced a temporary downturn in business and asks for an extension of time in which to make a payment, ensure that the management considers the request carefully. Go an extra mile to ensure that each of your clients is satisfied with their treatment by your company.
Tip 5: Be Creative and Imaginative
Try to respond helpfully to every client request and concern. If there is no obvious action you can take to assist the client, be creative. Always try to offer your client solutions, not excuses. Find out how you can help them or find resources for them at least.
Every ounce of effort that you put into your relationship with the clients is worthwhile. Remember that it’s easier to keep an existing client than it is to gain a new one.