In an attempt to provide practical advice and guidance to organisations in the current economic climate, the organisation development consultancy, Echelon, is offering its customers free access to a paper on ‘retaining customers in an economic downturn’.
The paper – authored by sales performance specialists Huthwaite International - is one of the ‘action lists’ on the ‘Learningmatters’ website.
This website is Echelon’s ‘virtual warehouse’ of over 2,000 downloadable bite-size performance solutions.
Among the paper’s eight key points are:
Dissatisfaction is the first step to losing business, so the best way of keeping your existing business is to ensure that any existing client dissatisfaction, no matter how small, is detected and addressed at the earliest possible opportunity. So check user satisfaction regularly and respond quickly.
Develop perceptions of value, so document all the good news. If clients have no understanding of the value your business is bringing to their business it’s not surprising that they see little problem in changing suppliers.
Maintain and extend your network of contacts, rather than maintain links with an ageing and shrinking pool of business contacts. In a downturn companies shed people - and losing your key contact can leave you vulnerable to change.
Develop accounts, don't just maintain them. Explore what changes the customer plans to make to cope with the slow-down and consider the extent to which such change can provide opportunities for your business as well as threats.
Expect price pressure but take time to check the full cost of any concessions you are being asked to make.
Watch your own cost of the sale and don't chase business where your chances of success are low.
Review your marketing strategy. Building brand is fine but good leads now could be more important.
Offer clients low risk solutions.