By Pat Bryson
Although every salesperson will lose a client now and then, the truly great salespeople know how to retain a large percentage of their business. They minimize their attrition rate. We know that statistically we can minimize our attrition rate by 40% based on good customer service strategies.
Unfortunately, most stations don’t have a systemized customer strategy. We know that the skills required for acquiring accounts (hunting skills) are not the same skills required for keeping customers (farming skills). What you do after your prospect says “Yes” determines what your loss ratio will be. By saying “Yes, “ your client has brought you on board as a partner in his marketing efforts. Our job is to maintain that partnership.
Here are seventeen steps that you can take to help ensure retaining your client’s continued business and to set yourself apart from the competition.
1. TRI-ANNUAL REVIEWS. When your client signs an annual agreement, mark your calendar for four months from that date. That’s the time for a “tri-annual review.” Ask for a meeting with your client and spend the time finding out what has changed in his business in the past four months. With the speed of today’s business climate, what was on target four months before may not still be on target. We need to stay ahead of the changes in our client’s business. In an era of cutbacks and cancellations, we must try to be proactive and be aware of potential changes BEFORE they occur. You will re-ask most of the questions from your initial needs analysis meeting, and you should make sure to include the following three:
• What has changed most about your business in the past four months?
• How can I take better care of you?
• If someone were to ask you why you advertise with us, what would you tell him?
You can use their response to question 3 on your testimonial page. You will also want to use this quote from your client when you prepare his renewal agreement! This tri-annual review lets you find out how you might need to adjust the advertising plan to meet your client’s current needs.
2. LOG YOUR ORDER EXPIRATION. You want to begin the renewal process several weeks before the expiration of the current contract, so make sure to log the contact date well in advance of the actual renewal date. Remember, your competition knows when your contract is up. They are already planning to steal the business.
3. LOG SERVICE CALLS. Write down in your calendar when you need to contact your client about copy, schedule changes, etc. Plan and log your future contacts with him. Let him know you have not forgotten him, and that you are interested in his continued success.
4. MAKE SURE THAT YOU SEND A HAND-WRITTEN THANK-YOU NOTE.
5. HAVE MANAGEMENT SEND THANK-YOU LETTERS AS WELL. Most salespeople do not send thank-you notes. It is even more rare for a client to receive a thank-you letter from the management team of the station. Again, this sets you apart from the other radio and TV reps.
6. SET UP A NEW CLIENT FILE. Make sure that you put copies of all correspondence, ad copy and orders inside it. List all the important contacts for that business. and phone, email and street addresses for each. Use a log sheet to list all contacts with that client and the outcome of each. Each day, when you leave for appointments, you can simply take the files with you for the clients you are seeing that day. You will have all important information for them at your fingertips.
Note: I know many stations use virtual client files and customer management systems. There is nothing wrong with these.
7. THE ADVANTAGE OF A PAPER FILE is that you can have it with you when you are in front of clients. Most salespeople do not have access to their computer files while they are out of the office. I suggest keeping both.
8. SEND A “NOTICE OF NEW ADVERTISER” TO YOUR STAFF. Many times, listeners call your receptionist or your on-air announcers looking for information about a commercial they partially heard. A “notice of new advertiser” allows your internal staff to know who is advertising with you and how to direct listeners to their stores. The “notice of new advertiser” should include all pertinent details on location, phone numbers, websites, name of owner as well as what items are being advertised.
9. KNOW THE IMPORTANT DATES FOR YOUR CUSTOMER. Know birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Send them cards.
10. KNOW YOUR CLIENT. Know more about him than just his business concerns. Know his family, his hobbies and his community affiliations. With this knowledge, you can talk to him on a personal level as well as a business level. Good partnerships are built on good relationships.
11. SCOUR INDUSTRY PUBLICATIONS, newspaper articles that relate to his business. He know watching out for his business concerns.
12. ALWAYS INFORM YOUR CLIENTS OF CHANGES IN YOUR STATION. Let them hear from you about announcer changes, format changes, anything you wouldn’t want the competition to tell them first. By keeping your client informed, you can circumvent potential problems.
13. IF YOU ARE IN HIS AREA, JUST STOP BY FOR A MINUTE. Don’t take too much of his time. Just say,”Hello” and tell him that you were in the area and didn’t want to pass by without stopping in.
14. WHEN YOUR STATION RECEIVES TICKETS TO EVENTS OR CONCERTS that are available to give to clients, be sure to obtain some for yours. Items marked with the station logo are also a potential source of goodwill. Share these with your best clients.
15. EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT ON EVERY ORDER THAT A GOOD CLIENT PLACES, BE SURE TO THANK THEM FOR THE LOSS. Since most salespeople do not even think them for the win, thanking them for the loss will certainly set you apart. And I bet they will remember this the next time they place a buy.
Here is a sample “loss letter”:
Mr. John Doe
Dear Mr. Doe:
I want to thank you for the opportunity to present my station to you. Even though you did not choose us to be part of your current marketing plans, I applaud your use of radio to increase your business. I believe you’ll find radio to be a most effective advertising vehicle.
I wish you much success with your upcoming campaign. I hope that, in the future, we may become part of your strategy. Again, thanks for your interest in my station and thanks for using radio.
16. GIVE YOUR NEW CLIENTS A “CLIENT SERVICE DIRECTORY” that includes the names, email addresses and phone numbers of all the internal staff that will be working on their account. This should include top management, sales management, program director, production director, traffic director, copywriter, business manager and receptionist. Now your client always has someone to speak with in case you are not available.
17. NEVER FORGET TO SELL THE SOLD. The minute your client’s commercials go on the air, every salesperson in town hears them. Remember, your competitors are trying to “sell the sold.” Never take a client or contract for granted.
Every salesperson loses clients. That’s why it is imperative to keep the new supply of prospects in your pipeline. But by carefully managing your clients after the sale, you can greatly diminish your cancellation ratio.
Pat Bryson is the owner of Bryson Broadcasting International, a firm that specializes in coaching and training sales and sales management. She is available to help your staff achieve its next level of expertise. This article is from her book, A Road Map to Success in High Dollar Broadcast Sales, which is available on her website, www.patbryson.com. Copyright © 2014 Bryson Broadcasting International.