It would be nice to believe that your customers are loyal; that their relationship with you is valued, and they will give you a chance to respond to any claims or promises made by your competitors. Yes, it would be nice to believe that but not too bright. Even though you can assume that a certain percentage of your customers will renew their agreements with you, on a case by case basis, it risks the health of your business to look at any one account and assume their continued business.
Until that renewal agreement is closed and the next period is paid, your customers are really not much more than warm leads. Until it’s time to close that next payment, you might want to think about the advantages of keeping those leads warmed up with a customer nurturing program.
“But wait!” you say. You have an account management and/or customer service/satisfaction team assigned to existing accounts and this is part of that job. You’re totally correct, your account management/ customer satisfaction team has that objective firmly on their plate. But, this type of customer nurturing is NOT based on building satisfaction for the current state of affairs. This customer nurturing program is truly a sales initiative with three distinct goals.
- Reinforce your competitive preference
- Introduce and build interest in cross sell possibilities
- Introduce and build interest in upsell possibilities.
In terms of a communications plan, what does this look like?
Look at a quarterly message that’s distinct from your newsletter or other easily ignored (sorry, but its true) email communications. Woo them, just like you did before they became your customers, with invitations to events, demonstrations and webinars. Feed them a generous diet of market and issue oriented content that’s genuinely useful to them. Don’t bombard them with your specifically self-serving propaganda. Believe me, that gets boring very quickly and will damage your share of ear. Instead, stay within your market niche and offer content on issues, trends & problems relevant to their business. That kind of information gets read…. and remembered…. and valued.
Naturally, you’ll want that content to also illuminate the opportunities and dazzling benefits presented by your cross and upsell products and services. Afterall, this is a business you’re running, not a library. When it comes time for your renewal sales team to close the business, set them up with a reasonable chance to actually grow your YOY revenue. Without upsells and cross sells, your business has nowhere to go but down. Think negative churn.