Disappearing Customer Loyalty: The Challenge is Complex, But Not HopelessNovember 24, 2014 | Posted by Jeff Seeley in Communication Skills, Sales Training
Last month we asked Message from the Mentor readers, “As a sales professional, what is your greatest fear?” The most frequent response, by a margin of nearly 2-to-1, was “Disappearing Customer Loyalty.” The problem is real. The well-known 80/20 rule (20% of customers account for 80% of the turnover) has turned into the 60/40 rule (40% of customers generate 60% of the turnover). The challenge is complex. There is no CRM, marketing automation system or social media tool that will single-handedly restore customer loyalty. It’s no wonder it topped your list of fears!
There are many factors contributing to lower customer loyalty (greater transparency, ease of price comparison, rise of customer education and expectations, compression of the sale cycle, fewer face-to-face interactions) but its existence indicates one simple truth: the absence of a unique relevance to customers; a failure to provide a unique added value. To achieve a unique relevance to customers, one needs to understand the customer and their business, from their perspective. Many readers will recall this sales training concept as getting into the customers’ “Odds Are.” It is a form of empathy that is absolutely essential for understanding the true pain points of the customer – the precursor to identifying solutions with unique value/benefits. For the record, a customer’s pain is never limited to price alone.
It is easy to write off customer-driven behaviors like “disappearing loyalty” as being beyond the control of the sales professionals, but that is simply not the case. There are very specific skills required to uncover and diagnose customer needs. There are specific communication skills and processes which facilitate that kind of productive dialog. And it is within the power of every sales professional to broaden our mindset, take a holistic approach, and focus on the overall customer experience. That experience includes price, but it also includes service, brand strength, ease of transaction, access to industry-specific expertise and valued strategic insight, and a rewarding personal relationship. Be sure you are considering all the loyalty drivers relevant to customers and that you know how to get that conversation started.
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