“You Closed the Deal. Great Job, Must Feel Good to Have that Client in the Bag. Let’s Move onto the Next One.”
In Part I of this article, we covered the first 3 major parts of the customer lifecycle, research & audience targeting, awareness/lead generation, and conversion/activation. This part of the process, especially #’s 2 & 3 are probably the most visible and sexy, and I would venture to guess that 80% of the content on the web is exclusively targeted towards this part of the process. After all, everyone is focused on the sexy things like social media, SEO, and paid media as they are commonly promoted and are always front and center when thinking about getting new business.
Plus, the sales process itself is glamorized and nothing is better than getting a new client or commission check to justify the excitement. Here’s an oldie but goodie to prove that point.
However, to become an exceptional marketer you need to make sure that you continue to focus on the journey, not just the actual sale. This entails 3 additional steps to the process.
1. Retention & Education
2. Revenue & Cross/Up Selling
3. Loyalty & Referrals
By keeping your eye on the ball, you will not only see increased customer retention as a result of a better experience, but you can tap into the holy grail of any business….the up-sell and referral. Let’s take a quick look at the 2nd half of the customer journey to make sure that you pay close attention to this aspect of your own customer’s journey.
Retention & Education
You fight and plan to put together the perfect mousetrap. Web sites are designed, campaigns are created, and your sales force diligently follows up with both calls and meetings until that lead finally turns into a customer. At this point, the easy thing to do is to chalk up a sale and move on to the next one. Unfortunately, many organizations utilize this philosophy and it can create a tumultuous situation over time.
Whether you are selling an item once, or have a product with ongoing costs, it is absolutely vital to make sure that their customer experience is ideal. This ensures that your clients get the most out of the product or service that they have purchased, and become long-term clients or repeat buyers. After all, the only thing worse than a leaky sales funnel is a hemorrhaging customer funnel.
Fortunately, with the recent advancement in software packages and multimedia, you aren’t limited to an endless amount of follow up calls in order to ensure that customers are happy and getting the most use out of their products. These days the following strategies can help you not only make sure that the clients have a positive experience, but also many times can automate the entire process to save on costs and man-hours. These include:
• Video Training Libraries
• Chatbots and Product Demos
• Email Automation and Follow-up
• Surveys and Polls
• Push notifications for updates and new features
• Customer appreciation initiatives
Like anything worthwhile, these strategies can take a good bit of effort to set up and perfect, but they will save you time and money in the long-term by holding onto the clients that you have fought so hard to get while turning them into advocates for the brand.
The process of Cross & Up Selling is pretty much common sense, however it is something that is commonly neglected in organizations. So much time and effort is spent in getting new prospects and leading them through the traditional sales funnel that the best opportunities (in many cases) are right under your nose.
The operative word to making this portion of the customer journey a success is mentioned in the first sentence of this section. Process.
You need to make a special effort to design a way to have consistent touch points with your existing client base, and make them feel like they are part of your team instead of just a source of revenue. A few ideas for how to accomplish this task include:
• Special Customer Deals
• Surveys to get input on new & upcoming products
• Customer appreciation initiatives
• Outbound calls
• IP / Cookie Technology – Alerts for Return Visits
These activities aren’t necessarily rocket science, but it is important to point out so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. It is also important to note that you don’t want to put your customers in a situation where they are being sold every time they hear from you. This is where offering freebies and valuable resources like eBooks, Whitepapers, and Case Studies that they can use can provide a nice buffer.
As of right now, there isn’t much in the way of leveraging automation to accomplish these goals, but by simply inserting this group into a defined process, you will put yourself in a position to ask for the up-sell through consistent touch points and outreach.
Build Customer Loyalty and Generate (ask for) Referrals
As anyone who has ever owned a business or managed a sales team knows, Referrals are simply the best kinds of leads. Statistics show that they are much more likely to turn into a client, usually are larger customers, and have a much shorter sales cycle.
So while almost every marketing plan contains a strategy for getting more referrals, the sad fact is that the overwhelming majority of teams simply don’t implement the practice into practical application. As referral automation tool ReferMeIQ states:
• 83% of satisfied customers will refer others to you if asked
• Customers are 400% more likely to buy when referred by a friend?
• Only 29% of customers actually refer. Why? They weren’t asked!
The key takeaway that jumps off the page from those statistics is the fact that most customers are never asked for referrals, so an astounding amount of new and very closable business is being left on the table year-after-year.
Based on these statistics, you can see how getting a plan in place to harvest these referrals becomes paramount.
So many times, the majority of our focus for getting new leads into the funnel are focused on advertising, which can be extremely expensive, social media, which is very time intensive, or trade shows which take up a disproportionate amount of both time and money. The opportunity to get more closable business may be sitting right in front of you in both your business and personal networks. You just have to ask.
Now You Pull it All Together
As you can see, there is much more to marketing than simply spending a few bucks and getting some lukewarm leads into your customer acquisition funnel. To excel in modern marketing, you need to focus on doing the proper work to identify your customers and where they can be effectively reached, determine the best vehicles in which to reach them, and then make sure that you kill them with customer service and ask for referrals once they are on board.
We aren’t claiming that lifecycle marketing is the easiest thing to put into place, but if you are serious about building your business, and setting yourself apart from your competitors, it is becoming a must have. The good news is that you can execute some of these pieces independently from one another, while focusing and reaching the ultimate goal of having mapped your entire customer journey.
Stay tuned for the next parts of our series, where we will take a deeper dive into each phase of the customer lifecycle, along with tips and software that you can put into application for your business or department. As always, if you ever have any questions, please feel free to email us, call us, or fill out our contact form to request a call from one of our marketing specialists.