How do I get more retained clients? If I had a penny! Along with client referrals, retained clients can mean gold for any supplier as it represents the achievement of trust, loyalty and value in the clients’ mind to such an extent that they simply cannot and will not do without you for the immediate or long term.
Merriam-Webster defines being retained as “to keep possession of, to keep in one’s pay or service, to employ by paying a retainer fee, to keep in mind or memory or to hold secure or intact.”
I have yet to meet a company that wouldn’t want retained clients. After all it is a form of guaranteed income over a period of time. Highly coveted, retained clients demonstrate so much especially to future prospects looking for a new supplier, potential employees wanting to work with the very best employers and of course potential investors in the business. The benefits are huge.
Some people naively think that getting retained clients is easy. It isn’t. You have to decide what type of retention is right for your business. It isn’t a one size fits all forever.
Retention can manifest itself as a client who pays a business the same amount of money every month over a set period of time regardless of the work involved each month. It could also be being part of a preferred supplier list that a market competes be included on. It could be campaign-based work where a business is first choice in a businesses’ planning process before going elsewhere.
Whatever retention looks like, it requires a huge amount of work especially in areas where the business needs to show its worthiness to be retained. There is no silver bullet to getting retained clients, however if we apply the mnemonic T.R.A.C.E.R. we can establish what is required to set things motion.
T Trust – Are you, as a business trustworthy? Have you demonstrated that you are reliable, consistent and can deliver on your word? Do you have testimonials to support this? Do you have a testimonial and referral strategy? Are you credible and have authority and gravitas? Does your company have a set of lived out values? Are your sales teams selling on cost or value? Do they overly discount? Do you know your position in he market? Would your clients agree and trust that to be true based on what you charge?
R Relevant – Are you timely and on trend? Is your thinking current? Do you think like your buyers and clients and put them above everything else. Do you have something to say that is interesting to others? Do you post this on social media or communicate somewhere? Do you actively qualify relevant clients to your business or do you work with anyone? Do you have a Ideal Client Profile and deliver an Ideal Client Experience?
A Association – Who do you know? Are you recognised as someone to know? Do other businesses you work with enjoy being associated with you, because of the people you are associated with? Are you business that like a magnet, attracts people to it? Do you have a low staff turnover? Do you have a low client turnover? Is your company a great place to have come from as well as place someone would want to go to? Could you or your business be seen as an influencer?
C Capability – Have you got the skills in your business to do what you say you do? Have you got the resources to cope with additional demands and pressures? Do you hire the best people and have genuine talent density? Are your teams open to being completely client centric? Do your people genuinely want to help clients solve problems and have the initiative and capability to think on their own and deliver? Do you have a service level agreement in place for retained clients that clearly outlines levels of expectation and delivery that would also include a ‘make it right’ statement for when things go wrong?
E Ease – Do you create and effortless experience for your clients? Do you speak to them clearly and succinctly? Do you avoid industry jargon and terminology so that things can speed up for the client? Do you make magic happen without it looking too hard? Do your teams actively welcome issues and problems as opportunities in order to delight clients and go the extra mile? Do have specific processes for making things happen? Are they documented? Do they form part of a best practice approach in your business that can be replicated with ease for new clients?
R Responsiveness – Do you have documented a commitment to how long a client will have to wait before being responded too? If so, do you record your efficiency and then use that efficiency to sell your responsiveness to future clients as a benefit? Do you know how other companies measure responsiveness? How do you compare? Can your teams anticipate and predict issues before they arise minimising the impact of them on the client? Is your business able to pivot quickly when needed? Are you people open to constant change as part of your culture or are the stuck in the ‘good old days’? Are you utilizing modern methods of communication to clients such as video messaging?
When a company chooses to retain another, these considerations and measures all play a role, if you just think it’s going to happen, then it won’t. Similar to respect, retention is earned and not simply given. It requires an undertaking much bigger than people think, and yet those of us that have it know the effort is worth it.
Plan a strategy for retention. Think about what the end goal looks like. You might have a target to achieve a certain number of retained clients. Is that a total at the end of a period or is that an average during that period? Both are right, but do not let your commitment to non-retained clients slip, these are the acorns from which mighty oaks will grow and can often spend more over a certain period due to the nature of their business.
It won’t just land in your lap, but plan for gold and go for gold.
Thank you for reading, this blog forms part of SerialTrainer7 sales training and business development. Get in touch with Simon@serialtrainer7.com to see I can help you.