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Rekindling your relationship with past clients

Business Relationships

Why haven’t you called me? Rekindling your relationship with past clients

Target Marketing. Shotgun Marketing. Tent-Pole Marketing. Every high-quality business development strategy includes a well-developed marketing strategy. In today’s market, sales and marketing must work hand in hand if they expect to generate relevant, continuous leads. The focus is often on marketing to new prospects, we shouldn’t forget our legacy clients. Once again, sales and marketing must collaborate to develop a unique, customized strategy to engage and add value to customers who have already purchased from you. This “previous client” category comprises three profiles:

  1. Previous clients, you haven’t spoken with in 6-12 months (depending on your sales cycle)
  2. Previous customers who have changed companies since their last purchase
  3. Previous customers who can introduce you to other parts of their organization, to offer your other services

It is this second and third profile that is most often forgotten. We all know how difficult it is to secure a new account, but how tough do you think it will be to get the VP of Purchasing and Merchandise from New Company Inc. on the phone if she previously worked with you as the Director of Purchasing at Old Company B? Probably a lot easier than you think. When is the last time you reached out to her? Do you have any alerts set up to inform you when clients change companies?

Unfortunately, we learned the hard way about this third category. Five months after placing the National Sales Manager for one of our clients, I heard through the grapevine they were looking to hire a Chief Marketing Officer. I called our client to ask him about the search, and although he was very apologetic, he simply stated that he didn’t know we handled marketing searches as well. It’s not his fault he wasn’t aware of our full suite of solutions, it was mine! Had I consistently stayed in touch, reminding them of the various types of recruiting we offer, perhaps we would have secured that CMO search.

According to Donna Fenn, contributing editor for Inc.com, it costs five to ten times more to acquire a new customer versus retaining an existing one. In addition, the average spend of a repeat client is 67% more than a new client. Don’t underestimate – or flat out forget – the potential business that is locked away at a former customer.

5 Ways to Maximize Legacy Relationships

  1. Focus on making long term relationships not, short-term commissions. TurningPoint has operated under this Core Philosophy since our inception. It is this high touch approach that solidifies our deep, mutually respectful and “thought partner” relationship even after the job is closed.
  2. Stay in touch, no matter what. This is such a simple strategy, and yet we are constantly surprised by the number of professionals who don’t take the time to incorporate this into their regular routine. Our firm has grown by nearly 700% since it began, our client base has ballooned. What was once a standard follow–up process with a handful of previous customers each year, has become an intentional, hard-wired process. Each year we send an anniversary card to our placements, New Year’s gift baskets to our clients, and either Thanksgiving or spring/summer cards to our clients. We are constantly sending relevant industry articles, and inviting them to exclusive events.
  3. Customer Appreciation. A simple ‘Thank You’ goes a long way. Hosting customer appreciation events to re-engage with previous customers and thank them for their previous business is one way you can do that. This will provide an opportunity for you to reconnect and acknowledge their contributions to the growth of your firm. It’s a perfect platform to share some of your successes and highlight any changes and new offerings since your last interaction.
  4. Legacy clients require a custom business development and marketing strategy. Don’t make the mistake of sending the same message to your clients, as you send to your prospects. Spend the time to customize the content and message, acknowledging your previous collaborations, and highlighting other offerings that will complement your previous success.
  5. Invite your legacy clients to share their experience. Everyone knows the most cost efficient and effective marketing tool is “word-of-mouth.” There is no better way to build your credibility and keep your customers engaged than to invite them to provide a text or, better yet, video testimonial. This provides a dual impact – your client can gain visibility by showcasing their business while singing the praises of you and your business.

A company cannot survive without replenishing its client base. While new business is essential, the arguments for focusing your business development strategies on existing clients are strong. Not only is it more cost-effective, it is also more reliable and provides you with the opportunity to build long-term relationships, rather than simply “sell” the client.

By Ken Schmitt, TurningPoint Executive Search

[Ken Schmitt is the President and Founder of TurningPoint Executive Search with over 18 years of recruiting experience. TurningPoint specializes in placing sales, marketing and operations professionals across the country.]