Now that you’ve taken an assessment and have gathered input from your team, the next step is thinking creatively about meeting first quarter campaign goals.
Goal #1: Sales
Loyalty Program – Small businesses still vying for customer loyalty will do well to have a loyalty program. If yours is a retail business, consider a computer generated loyalty program or database that works with a phone number. Most businesses just start off with gift cards or punch cards, since they think people like having something to hold. This is true, but people also tend to lose the things they hold. Back it up by entering phone numbers into a customer loyalty database.
Referral Program – Necessary for small businesses, but critical for enterprise level growth, referral programs as a great idea for increasing sales and brand visibility through word of mouth. Enterprise level companies struggle immensely after they reach a climactic period of growth – because they need to now sustain this growth or risk losing their employees or profit margin if they don’t continue the momentum to accommodate for a natural loss of business that comes with simply being in business.
The natural loss of business: customers move away, clients face their own budget cuts. You name it and it happens. So matter how big you’ve gotten, consider that you need to essentially keep that momentum going – and your sales team can only do so much. Having a strong referral program and letting everyone, including clients, know about it is a great way to instill incentive in having other people do the sales work for you. Offering a 20% kickback fee is standard. If you’re a service provider, or in a more laborious business versus straight product, then you can offer 10% at contract signing and another 10% at delivery.
Keep in mind that referral programs now need to be rolled into sales and marketing. This means that you need to keep your company at the forefront of people’s minds. So, the next time you’ve produced a great brochure or marketing piece, send a few to your referrers too. You should also have a new segmented email list set up for referrers, to keep them in the loop with projects you’re working on – and the language to communicate that to people who might be interested.
Goal #2: Client Relations
You work so hard to get the client, and even harder still to ensure that they’re happy with your business. Unfortunately, for the most part, client relations is where client…well…relations, go to die.
Client relations was a universally respected aspect of business retention in the Mad Men era; and it still is with large multi-million dollar accounts. That said, it also need to be the domain of small and enterprise level businesses that are still stretching and growing.
Client relations doesn’t need to be complicated. It starts with making sure you’re client relations point person is educated in your business and a charismatic people person. They need to be able to work well with sales, who will know the client more intimately. Working with sales, they should have a database on the client that recognizes the personal side of a client, noting things like: the names of spouse/children, birthdays, hobbies, personality, work ethic and preferences, etc. It should also note if the client is going through anything particularly challenging. In my experience in freelancing with agencies, there was a client who struggled with meeting her deadlines too us – and we only later found that that she’s struggling with her own company too and it had been difficult for her to have people follow through on commitments. In another case, the client’s family life was challenging; he has a small child with a very serious illness, which meant that we needed to be as patient and accommodating as possible.
Client relations is ultimately about sensitivity and seeing people as human beings rather than just as accounts. In fact, both goals here are; referral programs are only successful when outside people see you the same way.
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