Larry Davis, CEO

It costs up to seven times more for distributors to earn a new customer than to keep an old one. It is also true that nothing will drive the growth trajectory of your business like bringing on new customers. The effort and challenges that come with acquiring new customers is worth it, but sometimes in the excitement of closing a deal we forget that we can’t stop working when the sale is done.

Because customer retention is such a critical factor in a company’s success, the closing of a deal marks just the beginning of a long relationship in which distributors must be prepared to continually live up to customer expectations. Based on research and feedback we received from our customers, we believe there are three critical ways to nurture relationships with existing customers.

Operate with integrity.

Be reliable. I would make reliability synonymous with credibility. When you talk, do they believe what you’re saying? What’s your support like? If there are problems, and there will be, how does your team react? Do you take care of issues quickly, promptly and professionally? Or do problems take on a life of their own and negatively impact the relationship? A great retention strategy always includes operating with integrity and responding promptly to things that go wrong.

Follow through on your promises.

The second key to customer satisfaction is performance. What did we promise when we closed the deal? If we said we’re going to deliver a certain percentage of documented cost savings, then we owe it to the customer to make sure that we report and deliver those savings. We also need to ensure that these performance factors are incorporated into their customer experience. Are we easy to do business with? Are our existing customers satisfied? There is always an emotional component to business relationships and we want customers to feel good about our relationship. A customer that feels lukewarm or negative will be a lot harder to retain.

Deliver on quality.

The last piece is quality. Quality is always a huge factor in keeping customers satisfied. If the products or tools aren’t the right ones, we need to make it right. It takes consistent quality to impress end-users. Distributors’ goal for quality should not just be good enough. Quality means getting customers exactly what they need when they need it; that will ensure you will retain customer loyalty.

Regardless of how good our plans are nothing is going to go exactly to plan. However, when we have a good team and processes in place to respond to and address issues, we go a long way toward retaining customers for the long haul.

Keep it simple. Customer retention isn’t rocket science. Stay within your core DNA and keep an open dialogue with your customers so you can continually refine your processes.

Do you want to learn more about targeting and keeping the right business? Watch our recent webinar, The Distribution Sales Playbook: Targeting the Right Business, on-demand now.

Learn more about how AgoNow fosters successful customer relationships.