Turning Previous Clients into Legacy Clients
The most painful lessons yield the most impactful lessons… after the sting fades. Five months after placing the National Sales Manager for one of our clients, we heard through the grapevine they were looking to hire a Chief Marketing Officer. We called our client to ask him about the search. Although he was very apologetic, he simply stated that he didn’t know we handled marketing searches as well. It’s not his fault he wasn’t aware of our full suite of solutions, it was ours! Had we consistently stayed in touch, reminding them of the various types of recruiting we offer, perhaps we would have secured that CMO search. That one-time client could’ve been a legacy client with a tiny bit of effort on our part.
High quality business development strategies must include a nurturing component or else those efforts will never reach their full potential. So is this a sales or a marketing thing? Marketing typically focuses on new prospects, but where do legacy clients land in the marketing strategy? Since sales closes the deal, shouldn’t it be their job to manage the account going forward? Should they be in charge of their own “marketing” to existing clients?
The answer to the first question is: Both. Sales and marketing need to be a part of the nurturing process to turn previous clients into legacy clients. Who are your previous clients?
1. Previous clients you haven’t spoken with in 6-12 months (depending on your sales cycle)
2. Previous customers who have changed companies since their last purchase
3. Previous customers who can introduce you to other parts of their organization, to offer your other services
The second and third profile that is most often forgotten. We all know how difficult it is to secure a new account, but how tough do you think it will be to get the VP of Purchasing and Merchandise from New Company Inc on the phone, if she previously worked with you as the Director of Purchasing at Old Company B? Probably a lot easier than you think. When is the last time you reached out to her? Do you have any alerts set up to inform you when clients change companies?
In 2018, 26% of TurningPoint’s revenue was generated by repeat clients, and is continuing to rise in 2019. According to Donna Fenn, contributing editor for Inc.com, it costs five to ten times more to acquire a new customer versus retaining an existing one. In addition, the average spend of a repeat client is 67% more than a new client. Don’t underestimate – or flat out forget – the potential business that is locked away at a former customer.
Make a Previous Client a Legacy Client
Focus on making long term relationships not, short term commissions
TurningPoint has operated under this Core Philosophy since our inception. It is this high touch approach that solidifies our deep, mutually respectful and “thought partner” relationship even after the job is closed.
Stay in touch, no matter what
A seemingly simple strategy. Yet we are constantly surprised by the number of professionals who don’t take the time to incorporate this into their process. Our firm has grown by nearly 700% since it began, our client base has ballooned. What was once a standard follow–up process with a handful of previous customers each year, has become an intentional, hard-wired process. Each year we send an anniversary card to our placements. Monthly, we give them a shout-out on our social media channels. We send New Year’s gift baskets and Thanksgiving or spring/summer cards to our clients. We keep them in our loop by consistently sharing relevant industry articles, and inviting them to exclusive events.
A simple ‘Thank You’ goes a long way. Hosting customer appreciation events to re-engage with previous customers and thank them for their business is one strategy we’ve implemented. We reconnected with clients and candidates and acknowledged their contributions to the growth and continued success of our firm. It was a perfect platform to highlight any changes and new offerings since our last interaction.
Customize your business development and marketing strategy
Don’t make the mistake of sending the same message to your existing clients and prospects. Invest in customized content and messaging, acknowledging your previous collaborations, and highlighting other offerings that will complement your previous success.
Every business needs a full pipeline to remain successful. But why bust your hump to continually find “fresh meat” when the work you’ve already done can help do the job? Not only is leveraging existing clients more cost effective, it is also more reliable, and focuses you on building long term relationships, rather than simply “selling” to the client.