5 Reasons Courting Current Clients Makes Sense

5 Reasons Looking After Current Clients Makes Sense

It's not uncommon for an agency to accept a pitch opportunity knowing they are low on staff due to holidays or that they have other client commitments e.g. major conference, campaign launch etc. By their very nature, agencies are flexible. They freelance, they hire, they stretch.

Nevertheless, frequently agencies forget that their very own existing customers hold the potential for incredible new business opportunities, which would be easier and cheaper to attain.

Here are 5 reasons looking after current clients makes sense:

1. It costs more to get new clients
Most agencies spend a great deal of money and effort on getting new customers. Pitching alone can cost the agency several weeks in man-hours. By the time you've factored in client meetings, internal meetings, pitch development time as well as external costs, there could be as much as 3 weeks worth of time for at least 4 members of the agency team plus additional out of pocket expenses.

In fact they generally spend five to six times more on obtaining new business than they spend on keeping the clients they already have.

2. Long term clients buy more services
Over the course of a relationship, a client will continue to learn about your company and the services you offer and will end up buying a lot more from you.

Similarly, as you get to know your client's business better you will have the knowledge you need to look for opportunities to create services to offer to your client. Either way, a long term client equals more sales.

3. Existing clients will recommend you more frequently
Clients who you keep for a longer period of time will be more willing to recommend you to others.

If you don't already have a referral process in place then now might be a good time to start because if your existing clients are satisfied with your services they are usually very willing to introduce you to others.

A personal introduction is lucrative and could reduce your cost of sale i.e. it could mean no pitch. And another way to benefit from your client's endorsements is to ask them for a testimonial - more powerful than any marketing message you could come up with for yourself

4. It costs less to sell to existing clients
A lot of the new business that comes from existing clients is gained in the process of doing other work and excludes marketing time and pitching costs. For example if you are presenting work to an existing client, you start to ask thoughtful questions about the state of your client's business.

During this conversation an opportunity arises for you to sell the client another service you provide which happens to fulfill their needs. This new sale has come about through doing existing business and didn't require the huge amount of man hours to come up with.

5. They let you know if they're unhappy
Your client has a stake in the relationship. It costs them lots of time and effort to find a new trustworthy agency who is going to suit their needs. To undertake a search for a new agency takes time, to build knowledge and trust takes time.

Therefore, if asked, they will usually tell an agency they are unhappy. This gives the agency a chance to put things right, improve their service and win them back before they're gone.

Good agencies will carry out six monthly relationship audits with their clients which for the agency is like a 'risk analysis' process to determine their client's level of satisfaction and commitment to the agency.

These types of audits can be carried out by an independent third party which are extremely fruitful as it takes out the individual characters from the assessment. Clients will often open up more to an independent person who isn't part of the agency. It's a way to uncover new business opportunities as well as understand honestly the areas that the client thinks the service could be improved

Do you have any other reasons agencies should be focusing more on their existing clients? Do you have a measured approach to finding out the current needs of your clients? Are there opportunities to provide more of your services to them? Are you building in the time to spend on this activity or are you too busy working 'in' your business rather than 'on' your business?

By Jenny Plant
Image  by Michael Connors

Jenny Plant has worked in account management for various advertising agencies for most of her 22 year career. She was General Manager for a global healthcare agency and now trains customer service skills to Account Managers.


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