Sales Answer Man: How Do You Retain Clients for the Long-Term?

While it’s important to continuously prospect, what advice do you have for retaining clients for
longer periods of time?

What follows are three simple ways to keep your clients long-term.

Surprise Them!

Just like any long-term relationship, the key to retaining clients is to not take them for granted.
So how can you surprise them from time to time? One way is through giving them referrals. When a competitor contacts your client with “improved service and pricing”, they are much less
likely to consider your competitor, if they are receiving referrals from you.

Giving referrals also triggers the “Law of Reciprocity”. Meaning they may be more likely to give
you a referral because you are giving referrals to them. This is truly a way to differentiate
yourself from your competition and potentially receive more referrals!

If your client does give you a referral, I am a believer in sending them a thank you card with a
small token of your appreciation. This could be brownies, $10 Starbucks card, or another small
gift. If the referral becomes a client, you may treat them to lunch at their favorite restaurant.

Recognize Them!

Another way is to retain your clients is through recognition. Most of your clients are “stroke
deprived”. Meaning they are getting way more negative feedback each day than positive
feedback. Experts suggest most us receive four negative strokes for each positive stroke.

When reading your favorite print or online publications and you may see your client’s picture or
their company article. If so, let them know! It can be as easy as taking a screen shot on your
phone and then either emailing or texting it to them with a nice note.

Also, occasionally you will come across an article you think they would be interested in. Again,
forward the article to them via email with a nice note as to why you thought of them.

Lastly, handwritten notes have become a lost art. How many pieces of mail do you receive each
day compared to emails or texts? Exactly…

In your handwritten note, thank them for being a client and what you specifically like about them
as a person. Examples might be kind, hardworking, generous, high integrity, confident, open, or

Listen to Them!

My last idea has to do with customized follow-up. For those of you who have multiple children,
have you ever told one child something twice and not the other child at all? This happens with
our clients, too.

To give context to this in a business setting, let say you have up to 10 potential services your
clients could purchase from you. Customer A is currently purchasing 3 of those products. What
would be an efficient way to determine more about the other 7?

I suggest keeping a spreadsheet for each client with all 10 services listed. Mark the ones they
are purchasing. On the other seven, ask them to give you one of three answers:
– No – we do not purchase this service
– Off limits – we purchase this product, but it is off limits to you right now.
– Yes – we would like to learn more about this service.

Keeping good notes on the answers above is a good way to prove you “listened”.

The next question is to ask your client is how often they would like to have this conversation.
Some of your clients may say quarterly, others semiannually, and still others annually.

Once you know the frequency, you can either schedule the next appointment at that time or
when you call them to meet again, they know you listened!

These are simple yet not easy ways to retain your clients. Often the little things done
consistently well, over a period of time, lead to quantum leaps in retaining your clients!

Dan Stalp is president of Sandler Training, a sales and professional development firm. He works with CEOs, presidents, business owners who sell, and peak performers who are tired of walking by their salespeople’s offices to see them on their computers instead of on their phones — and sick of having a superior product and losing out on price. • (913) 451-1760 •


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