A thrilled customer is the most potent marketing asset your organization can leverage.
~John Jantsch, writing at Duct Tape Marketing
Getting new clients is an essential part of any consulting business, but never fall into the trap of taking your existing clients for granted. Business survival depends on ensuring that your existing clients continue to find your service of measurable value. In order to retain your existing clients there are different performance related considerations that you can strategically use.
Never consider a contract renewal as a given and strive to provide performance indicators to pre-empt your value being questioned.
Stay in contact with your clients on a regular, weekly basis through phone calls and send a monthly summary or review of your work on their behalf. Make sure it reflects current information with specific industry data and links to their own numbers and data.
Be clear in what are reasonable performance indicators and don’t get caught with vague or assumptive responsibilities for performance outcomes.
Provide industry specific information on a regular basis that backs up what you are recommending and what you are achieving in the most measurable terms you can provide.
Send out surveys that are geared around the performance issues that the client is having. This allows you to also choose the way the question is framed to reflect your ability to help with the issue.
Focus on what is best for the client
Your expertise is what they hired so make sure you are providing information, references and links to how you are measurably helping their performance and problem issues
While you may have to convince them what is best, if you have the data to back up your recommendations, then client can see why your recommendations are reasonable. This, along with proven performance changes will make you a valuable long term resource.
A Proven Track Record Speaks For Itself
Always make sure that your contract includes specific performance indicators that will be tracked.
Make sure that the objectives of your contract are stated in achievable, measurable terms and ensure that the client will be responsible to provide you with the metrics that you need.
Summarize this information and present it to the client on a regular basis to avoid any question as to the actual value your consulting service is providing to the business.
The Personal Touch Goes A Long Way In Building Relationships
Smaller consulting companies have the ability to work one-on-one with the client to build rapport and a strong working relationship, something that big companies can’t provide. Value doesn’t equal size or branding and understanding why you offer a better service than the competition in real, measurable and meaningful ways can make the difference between getting that big contract or having it go to a potentially more recognizable competitor.
Establishing performance indicators, focusing on the client, reporting improvement and knowing what you can offer will help you retain clients and keep your customer base growing.
In the words of John Jantsch, author and thought leader, “The sense of commitment must be nurtured, cultivated, and spread throughout the entire company culture, customer base, and anyone who comes into contact with the company. This commitment development process takes time and patience until it becomes part of the very nature and makeup of everyone who is part of the internal or external parts of the organization. This complete immersion of commitment creates and emits a powerful sense of purpose, integrated into everything the company does, that spawns and develops loyalty from employees and customers.”
We would all be well served to keep Mr. Jantsch’s words in mind, when we consider who our customer is. We should begin by treating our own team members and subordinates as customers, and instilling in them the sense of commitment that we want them to nurture with customers or clients outside of the company.