Recently an entrepreneur I coach was feeling defeated by the loss of a long-time corporate client in Montreal. Persistent phone follow up had resulted in receiving an impersonal email saying the firm’s current focus was working with Quebec-based trainers. But she knew her work was unique and already of proven value. “What can I do,” she asked me, “to keep this client?”
What was my advice and did it work?
To answer her question, I needed more information. We had a long conversation in which I asked a lot of questions about her relationship with this client – not just the details of when she’d worked with them and how much revenue was involved, but also about social interactions, testimonials received, all the details.
My client shared a story about her current contact at the company and how, years ago, early in her relationship with the firm, he took her aside and said, “You should be charging more.” This was a very important piece of information! This was the key to retaining the client. Anyone who tells you with confidence that you are worth more is a believer, and in all likelihood will champion your work.
“You need to take him to lunch,” I said.
My client’s reaction was: “But he’s in Montreal!”
We talked about what the client was worth, the cost of a flight to Montreal, the fact that she could include meetings with other clients or prospects if she wished … and that she needed fabulous shoes for an upcoming wedding. “Use points if you want to, but get yourself in front of your contact as soon as possible,” I said.
She did follow my advice and within hours of her return from a 24-hour stay in Montreal, she confirmed three full days of work for the client this year. She also had the opportunity to drop by the office of an important prospect, making a positive impression … and she found fabulous shoes.
Current statistics indicate that gaining a new client costs five times as much as retaining an existing client, making client retention definitely worth the price of lunch in Montreal.