4 Sales Strategies for Gaining and Retaining Customers
The pandemic has created new challenges for sales teams who have had to learn to work remotely. Reaching prospects has proved to be more challenging than ever before, underscoring the importance of strengthening existing customer relationships. According to a recent LinkedIn survey, most sales professionals have focused on this as a key initiative during the pandemic. Seventy percent of respondents said they are making customer retention a higher priority.
Now more than ever, sales organizations need to implement smarter strategies and technologies that will allow them to serve up the right data, the right guidance, and the right insight at the right time to be able to connect with their buyers on an emotional level—to build trust, empathy, and, ultimately, loyalty.
This means that CRM for sales teams must support modern, low-friction user experiences—even voice-driven ones—as well as support all forms of mobile devices. It also must provide sales teams with the right insights and information about prospects and current customers.
Here are some winning strategies for optimizing your ability to maintain and expand existing customer relationships and build new ones during COVID-19 and beyond.
1. Tap into the Collective Experience and Relationships of Your Team
When it comes to nurturing client relationships, everyone in a company should be rowing in the same direction. Silo mentality can negatively impact the customer experience and cause delays that translate into lost momentum and missed opportunities.
Top sales performers polled by LinkedIn were nearly twice as likely as their peers to describe leads delivered by their marketing team as “excellent,” a statistic that highlights the payoff that can come from teams that can efficiently tap into and harness data about current customers and prospects on a global scale.
To build on existing business relationships and identify what is working and what is not, your marketing, sales, and customer service teams each need to know what the others are doing.
Your marketing department needs timely access to client information to engage current customers as well as prospects in meaningful activities.
Using intelligence to gain the actionable insights you need can also make a huge difference. Being able to take a single-view approach will drive collaboration and speed deals to close—even in the face of a remote work environment. By leveraging tools and strategies to better harness the intelligence and relationships of your team collectively and collaboratively, you can maximize customer experience and gain agility in identifying new opportunities for growth.
2. Keep an Eye on Client Engagement
To leverage your existing connections to your advantage, take a closer look at client touchpoints and identify potential problems. How often are your sales reps reaching out to discuss new product lines? Who should they get to know better? What is it that you or your colleagues don’t know? Where is the potential to cross-sell?
There is a lot of power in being able to monitor client engagement and how client relationships are trending. Yet this activity often falls by the wayside, especially if sales teams have not put processes into place that facilitate this activity. To counteract this, automation can improve collaboration among team members and help you make better use of data and workflows around your team’s interactions with valuable clients.
Similarly, if the highest revenue-producing activities are not directed at the key decision makers, you could be looking at missed opportunities. Personalizing your engagement strategy, with customer-facing activities that are clearly customized toward the unique personas of your clients, whether they be mid-level or senior-level managers, can prove to be a game changer.
3. Leverage Automation to Streamline Interactions and Improve Client Experience
No sales pro ever wants to walk into a situation where multiple people are contacting a client. Yet this scenario is all too often familiar. Putting automation and intelligence into place can quickly deliver the necessary insights to know who from your company is in touch with the client and make sure you streamline client interactions.
According to McKinsey & Co., only 15 percent of B2B companies feel they have a complete view of their customers. But the top performers are using data and advanced analytics to their advantage.
For example, one company we service at Introhive recently used data-driven insights to assess a customer relationship that had not lived up to its growth potential. Our client quickly discovered a possible reason for the strained relationship: Its sole contact at the company was being handled by 13 different people from across the organization. This disjointed approach likely led to a diminished client experience, and it was easy to remedy once the company figured out the root of the problem.
Gaining a more accurate picture of client interactions across your entire organization can also help you strengthen customer relationships. It also allows you to drive greater success in your own organization by allowing you to better allocate resources based on the expertise of your team, learn from the successes of your top performers, and identify where weaknesses exist to improve training and performance. Conversely, it also enables you to enhance the employee experience. With timely insights, your employees will be empowered to self-serve. Operating with more context around what has happened in the past eliminates the frustrations of not being able to sync up internally around client interactions.
4. Create a Culture of Putting the Customer Relationship First, Managing for Growth
The pandemic paved the way for innovation, whereby webinars and other online marketing programs took center stage in helping organizations achieve and in some cases even surpass customer acquisition goals. But organizations that weren’t directing more attention to existing customers began to see an increase in churn and put themselves at a disadvantage when it came to broadening existing relationships. By not setting the stage for opportunities to drive growth well in advance, they were leaving money on the table at a time when they couldn’t afford to do so.
It’s a common tale. Sales teams put 80 percent of their focus externally—on new data acquisition opportunities for drawing more and more new opportunities into the fold. But they fail to adequately evaluate the potential that can come from existing clients.
What many businesses learned and continue to learn post-pandemic is that it is crucial to strike the right balance between scaling existing accounts and driving sales of new ones. Creating a culture that emphasizes the importance of nurturing every customer relationship might start with your sales team. But it can’t stop there. If you want to foster a culture that is focused on continually building on the trust once established with existing customers, it’s important that every member of your organization, cross-functionally, be on board.
If you do it right, you will be able to ensure, at any given moment, that you are delivering the kind of streamlined, low-friction and value-added customer experiences that will move the needle for years to come.
Karen Campbell is technical solutions manager, EMEA, at Introhive. In her role, she works with clients across a number of industries to drive success using Introhive's B2B relationship intelligence and data quality management solution, which was recognized as a MarTech 2020 Breakthrough Award winner for Best CRM Innovation and appeared as a top 10 fastest-growing technology company on Deloitte's Fast 50 list.