Ever question the true value of client loyalty? Please don’t do that anymore. Believe it or not, on average, loyal clients are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase (White House Office of Consumer Affairs).
After you digest that statement, I want you to take a moment to understand the sheer volume of sales that client loyalty could create for you. Imagine you’ve mastered the art of building and nurturing client relationships so well that all of your clients are loyal to you, the product or service you sell, and your company and its core values. You could say you’d be in sales heaven!
But this article is not about how to create client loyalty: we’ve already written some eBooks on that! This article is about how to leverage client loyalty in a way that generates more sales for you. Sounds good? Read on to find out how.
Leveraging Client Loyalty:
The first thing you need to understand is that client relationships lay on a spectrum. This means that there are different “levels” of clients that will be willing to do different things for your company. At CFS, we call this the client evolution model. This is how we map out our spectrum of client relationships:
- Partner – would recognize an adverse impact to their business if you leave
- Advocate – sees the value in working with you and is vested in your success
- Client – recognizes the value of your offering and is willing to pay a premium
- Customer – buys from you on a transactional basis – price, terms, and conditions
- Prospect – qualified prospective client
- Suspect – unqualified lead
Just from looking at the names, anyone with common sense could assume that a partner of CFS will be more willing to, let’s say, refer us business than a suspect. The client evolution model follows the same natural inclinations of any relationship you may have in your personal life. For example, you wouldn’t ask your kid’s babysitter to help you move into your new house. You would, however, ask a good friend if they could help you.
There are many steps in leveraging client loyalty. Let’s get started!
1) Defining your levels of client relationships.
Feel free to use ours! This process is easiest when you make it as relatable to you and your company as possible. Who is the best example your company has of a partner? This is a company or person that relies on you for every-day business. Without a relationship, they would see some sort of negative impact on their business. Go through each level of the client evolution model and pair it with a real person or company that you work with. This will help you understand client loyalty in terms of your own business and relationships.
2) Get marketing and sales aligned.
A huge part of leveraging client loyalty is to get your own departments on the same page. If marketing and sales know exactly how to define specific clients, they will know which type of collateral to use with them. Not only will this provide clients with more useful information and marketing material, it will help build a stronger relationship with three groups within your company. Your marketing team, your sales team, and the client at hand. This process also saves your internal departments time. There won’t be overlap of what clients receive from your company.
For example, partners and advocates would receive invites for company events. They could also be asked to help your company with a podcast that you may run, or a webinar series. A suspect, on the other hand, should be sent “soft” emails. These emails are more so just to keep your company name in the back of their mind as you move them up to the prospect level of the Client Evolution Model.
3) Using your CRM to track client levels.
The Client Evolution Model is completely useless if it isn’t applied to people currently in your pipeline as well as past clients. To keep all of your sales reps and employees on the same page, they should be tracking where clients or prospects fall on the spectrum of client loyalty (AKA the Client Evolution Model). This way, sales reps know how to communicate in a way that aligns specifically with the person at hand. You wouldn’t talk to your best friend the same way you would talk to your kid’s school principal. So don’t talk to a partner like you’d talk to a suspect.
4) Create marketing collateral for each level of client.
Remember how we just talked about aligning your sales and marketing department? That collateral they created together should be used to nurture your clients and create action. The action is the product of nurturing and leveraging client loyalty in the right way. When your marketing and sales collateral gets current, past, or future clients to act in a way that benefits your company (as well as them), you are leveraging client loyalty. This is done through things like Inbound Marketing and good old fashioned conversations.
5) Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want!
The last thing I will talk about in relation to leveraging client loyalty is not being afraid to push a person or company to the next level of the spectrum. For example, you might be working with a really great client and want to help them excel further. This is when you need think, “how can I help them succeed?” When you have an answer to this, you’re probably in line to move this person or company up the chain.
For example, here at CFS we have a podcast and webinar series. A great way to get our clients involved in our work and strengthen our relationship is to invite them to be interviewed or present on either of these series. Not only does it help us diversify our series, it strengthens our relationships with people that we invite on them. If your company doesn’t have something like this that lets you work with clients or partners on something that isn’t “selling” related, try to implement it! It’s a great way to build relationships beyond buying and selling (which will probably lead to more business in the end).
Client loyalty is a great thing, but it’s fleeting. You and your sales reps need to work every day to maintain, nurture, or grow relationships. Don’t forget about the importance of tracking any information you have in your CRM and Sales PlayBook so you can learn as you develop your very own process for leveraging client loyalty.