While keeping customers should always be a priority, sellers are putting extra emphasis on retention this year. And thankfully, there are three basic sales tasks that can help sellers drive retention rates. By focusing on these specific actions, reps can evolve their strategy to ensure revenue continues flowing–even in a down market.
While no one is quite sure what the year will bring, concerns over a shaky economy are impacting buyer behavior. “Buyers are under extreme pressure to justify purchasing any solution, let alone solutions that represent a significant investment,” writes J.C. McKissen for LinkedIn. Referred to as the “Great Rationalization,” this shift to a more critical and cautious buyer isn’t going anywhere.
Sellers will find that the Great Rationalization will have a significant impact on buying processes. McKisson suggests that reps prepare for:
- Longer deal cycles
- An increased focus on ROI
- Input from more decision-makers and stakeholders
To protect revenue in the face of tougher deal-making, sales teams are hyperfocusing on keeping their current customers–and for good reason. “Research has consistently shown that it costs five to ten times as much to acquire a new customer than to renew an existing one,” McKissen explains. ”Additional research has also shown that existing customers tend to spend more with your company than new customers do.”
Three basic sales tasks to tackle (and why)
It’s time to double-down the focus on retention, and one way to do that is to embrace multithreading. As Salesfuel reported, awareness about the importance of multithreading is growing and for good reason. This act of developing multiple relationships within a client company can protect the partnership in the face of a changing sales landscape. Employee turnover can wreak havoc on an otherwise happy relationship between a seller and their client. Your champion may change jobs, leaving their replacement in charge of renewing the contract. This tactic also helps you establish trust, credibility, and ultimately value, with more than just one person, which is important as budget decisions are now made by larger groups.
As McKissen writes, “Developing several relationships within an existing customer has important benefits. Bringing multiple champions to the table can lead to more budget and more opportunities to solve challenges facing different departments within your client.
And multithreading creates buy-in across an organization that can help keep an account secure.”
For specific tips on how to effectively multithread, check out our advice here.
Showcase your ROI
Another one of the three basic sales tasks that can drive retention is demonstrating ROI. As more buyers cast a critical eye on their spending, sellers need to be prepared to show clear ROI. To do so, sellers must be specific. When talking ROI, be as specific as possible. Share data that is clear, accurate and impactful. Consider SalesFuel’s advice and create a sales impact model to share with buyers. Select the most powerful data points to demonstrate how you’ve provided value. Visuals can also add extra impact compared to simple text or tables.
Present your ROI “live” if possible. “It's best to try and discuss ROI information live,” McKissen explains. “That way you can gauge the other party's reaction and "play" with the data together to model different usage/impact scenarios.”
Shift your own thinking
He also notes that sellers must shift their own mindset to make retention a true priority. While the dopamine rush of landing new business is thrilling, it simply can’t be the only sales focus. Sellers need to prescribe that same high value to retaining current business as well. Stay focused on the profitability of current customers and how they can even present opportunities for cross- and upselling. Challenge yourself to find new ways to offer and demonstrate even more value. You’ll find that you’ll come to appreciate retention just as much as acquisition, especially when times get challenging.
Rather than worrying about tough times ahead, be proactive and plan how you can integrate these three basic sales tasks into your strategy. By strengthening the relationships that currently bring in revenue, you’ll safeguard against losses and be better prepared for whatever the year brings.
Photo by olia danilevich
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