As I mentioned previously, Relationships are King, and it’s as true for vendors as it is for PR professionals. The vast majority of B2B businesses talk about the “consultative” approach, but talk is cheap. When a customer asks for a change to the service or product, it is most often seen as a hurdle to overcome—something that might need to be handled to placate the customer long enough to sign the renewal. Consultative doesn’t mean patronizing. That “outlandish” request your team is scrambling to facilitate isn’t a risk to customer loss, but an opportunity for client partnership.
How is it, in the 21st century, businesses still operate under the belief that they have to “sell a customer”? The truth is, a customer either buys you, or you and your client partner together. No matter what lip service you pay people, if your model still calls for selling customers, you’re not succeeding. By partnering with a client, everyone benefits. Mutual growth, success, and stability can be achieved, but only by throwing out the old play book. This isn’t a call to turn off the lights on your sales team. This is a call to show them the light.
Customers buy because of features, clients remain because of benefits. Within 90 days of contract end, no matter the solution or product, customers start to shop around. In the same period of time, clients and partners are discussing strategy for the coming year together. Growth. Success. Stability. That previously-mentioned client request is an opportunity to survey all clients, who your team should already be in regular contact with. Is this request perhaps a suggestion that could benefit everyone? By developing/building/creating it, you have grown, as a partner and as a solution. And your client can grow because that new feature is a much needed tool in their kit.
By listening, collaborating, and seeking to grow together, mutual success is that much closer. A consultative operation will smile and soothe clients while they focus on their pipeline. A partnership breeds trust, which allows you to make recommendations to assist in your client’s success. Which in turn means you can start bragging about your client retention rate (currently 97% for the record). That success breeds mutual stability—knowing you have common goals and a sounding board for new and ongoing strategy.
Stability for a client means not having to worry about the exhausting process of evaluation. And for a business, knowing with a high degree of accuracy what the base revenue for the coming year will be is huge. The difference between employees struggling under the workload and being able to hire all the resources you need is a benefit passed directly to the client.
Customer Service, in any company, has one goal; keep the customer. But what if you had Client Services? And that department was the whole company? From the salesperson who spoke to the client first, to the account manager who speaks to them regularly, the entire company is there to service, and nurture the partnership. It is truly the only model that will see everyone experience those mutual benefits. Growth. Success. Stability.
Relationships are King. And they always will be.