Business owners are constantly looking to grow their customer base, often with the expectation that net new consumers will positively impact the bottom line. And while new growth is necessary, the fact is that chasing new customers is an expensive endeavor.
There’s no question that businesses should always look ahead, but they should also take a step back to consider the customers that fell to the wayside. Former customers can be equally as valuable as new customers in bolstering profit margins. Here are five steps to winning back (and keeping) a former customer:
1. Do a quick audit.
Use your customer relationship management tool (which allows companies to gain better visibility into customer interactions so they can connect with them in new and smarter ways to accelerate growth) identify clients you did a large deal with and then ask yourself a series of questions: a) is the main point of contact still at this organization, and if so, do they still have the same position? b) has the focus of the organization shifted, and do they still need the same products or services that you originally provided them? c) what are the organization’s business needs now?
Once you’ve collected this information, you’ll have necessary insights to determine your approach.
2. Make contact, but avoid the hard sell.
Ideally, this should be done in person and framed as a ‘catch up’ meeting. Send your former customer an email suggesting lunch or a coffee date—it’s a great, low pressure way to get back on their radar. The personal approach will be more well-received than an unsolicited email or phone call letting them know that you have a great offer for them.
First, re-establish the relationship, find out what you could’ve done differently to retain their business and how you can help them now— the sale will come again soon after.
3. Find ways to add value.
Use the information you’ve gleaned from your meeting to your advantage. Did your contact mention that the company is looking to adopt a new business model? Share a relevant recent research report with them. Are they looking to upgrade their human resources software? Offer a free consultation.
It’s important that you’re adding value that ultimately roadmaps back to your company’s product or solution and be looking to make the sale.
4. Demonstrate your loyalty.
Now that you’ve brought them back into the fold, how do you keep them? Show them you value their business. Building loyalty is all about honesty and transparency.
For example, signing heavily discounted deals only to have your customers experience sticker shock at renewal time is not the way to show them you appreciate their business. Locking in prices on your initial offer demonstrates that you were sincere in your sales process, and are thankful for your customers’ business.
5. Nurture the relationship.
Staying on top of the customer journey can be tough at times when you’re busy with other tasks—you may forget to follow up on an action item or you simply don’t touch base often enough. Make sure to lean on your CRM tool and use it to its maximum potential—it can help you track client preferences, social media presence and even past interactions. You use automation in all other parts of your organization—why not let it help you supplement your critical business relationships?
Re-establishing a relationship with a former client can be very valuable to your business. Your most loyal customers will also be your biggest advocates. Everything you do to keep these customers—and keep them happy—is a meaningful investment in your company’s longevity.