The greatest compliment you can get from a client is having them stick around for years and years. In 2006, I started a company called Intelligent Business Network Solutions. I signed on Kurt Olsen as a client that same year. When I sold the company in 2013, Kurt stayed with me instead of going with the brand.
I asked Kurt why he stayed with me. His answer will forever stick with me. He told me, “Nobody has ever understood me or my business as well as you have.” He stayed with me instead of following my company, because of the personal relationship I had built with him.
That has stuck with me deeply throughout the years. It taught me a valuable lesson about client retention. Client retention is one of the most important things in business. Look at what you have to go through to get a new client.
To get a new client, you have to:
- Generate leads
- Call them and set appointments
- Run appointments and identify pain points
- Create proposals
- Present proposals
- Close deals
Getting a new client can take anywhere from one week to multiple years. When I was selling high-end technology to the state of California, I had one sales cycle take four years. That was a tremendous investment with no guarantee that it would pay itself off.
When you think about your own sales cycle, how long does it take for you to close a client? How much energy and effort do you spend in retaining your business? It’s so important that you work to keep your clients happy so that you don’t have to spend all that effort finding new ones all the time.
A lot of times, once we land a client, we move on to finding the next one. We forget that our existing clients are our best source of income and referrals. Most small business owners spend way too much time and effort on the before, and not nearly enough time on the after. This leads to problems with client retention.
If you want to keep your business stable, and to get testimonials and referrals, you absolutely have to focus on retention. But, you also need to know that you can’t get every single one to come back for more. It’s still valuable to me when a client doesn’t come back. I always make sure I learn why so I can understand what I need to do better for clients in the future.
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