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Six Ways to Keep Clients from Jumping Ship By Colleen Francis

All service professionals and sales representatives face competition. And nothing is more frustrating than having your competition offer to sell to your existing client base at dramatically reduced prices.

Consider the following scenario:

Your biggest client calls to tell you they’ve been offered a cut-rate price on the very same services you’ve been providing them for years. They like doing business with you, but with the pressure on to save money and increase profits, this new lower price is too attractive to pass up. No matter how much you preach value to the client, they continue to come back with the lower price and tell you they are working from a strict budget.

To make matters worse, your competition is also trying to offset the lower price with a longer contract, which will hurt your chances of getting the client back if you lose their business now. You know this is a risky move for your competition and that they will probably lose money on the deal.

What can you do to close this business without taking a huge bath on your profits? How do you keep long-time clients from jumping ship when competitors tempt them with lower prices? Here are six strategies to follow:

1. Focus on Testimonials …

Testimonials are the most powerful weapon you have to prove your value to customers.

Clients tend to believe other clients more than they believe you. So, find customers who switched for a lower price and then came back to you because their experience with the competitor was less than satisfying. Or find clients who considered moving their business but changed their mind when they realized the long-term implications were less than positive.

These client stories will add firepower to your case and help you convince your customer that doing business with you truly is a better and more-profitable solution in the long run.

Note: Collect testimonials from every client you do business with regardless of how well your business is currently doing. Testimonials are your most-profitable selling tool, and you can never have too many.

2. Learn from History …

Think back to prospects who bought from you based only on price. More than likely they did not turn out to be longtime clients and were not profitable for your business.

If you are confident in selling based on the quality of your service, you will seek out prospects who value quality over price. You may have to endure the short-term pain of letting a customer go in order to make long-term gains with other, more-profitable clients.

3. Reward Loyalty …

Show long-term clients how much you value their loyalty by creating an account management process that rewards them for keeping their business with you.

Most companies make the mistake of offering discounts and bonuses only to new customers. Instead of devising a scheme to reward new business, create a program that rewards loyalty. For example, perhaps your clients can receive a lower price after two years of continual service. Or maybe longer-term customers can be the first to receive special new services or access training at reduced prices (or maybe even free).

Take a look at your client acquisition plan and make sure it’s not “sweeter” to become a new customer than it is to stay an existing customer. After all, long-term customers are far more profitable than new customers. In fact, some studies show that acquiring a new customer costs as much as 15 times more than selling more to existing customers.

Ask yourself this: Can you increase profits by spending some of the money you allocate for landing new customers towards keeping your existing clients?

4. Give Yourself Some Breathing Room …

Make sure you’re never in the position of having to save an account at any cost simply because it’s the only account you can close this month. If you don’t have other options, you will feel enormous pressure to close business at any price.

To avoid that, always be prospecting. The best service professionals manage a full funnel of leads (at least 3-4 times your quota of active qualified leads) at all times. This gives them the freedom to be able to walk away from an unprofitable deal and focus their attention on a profitable one instead.

5. Do Your Research …

A company’s website is a great place to do a little pre-sales call research. However, most companies put only what they want you to see on their sites.

If you’re trying to save a deal, you might want to dig a little deeper to learn more about your client’s past, present, and future, as well as what their customers think about them and their reputation in the industry.

Start by doing an Internet search. You may be surprised at how many blogs, message boards, or other websites provide you with deeper insights you can use when asking clients about price issues. Just be sure to consider the source. After all, most message boards are unfiltered, and you can’t trust everything you read online.

6. Don’t Add Value If the Client Won’t Value It …

Last but not least, don’t randomly add value unless you know for a fact your client will appreciate it.

Some people make the mistake of piling on extras that the client may not want or need. And it ends up costing more to give them something they couldn’t care less about in the first place—a perfect lose-lose proposition.

When I ask many of the salespeople I coach why they do that, they usually tell me it’s because they think the customer will like it. Thinking the customer will like something is the same as assuming they will like it. And you know what happens when we assume.

Value, like beauty, is in the eye of the buyer. Ask questions to find out what, besides price, would keep your client from giving their business to someone else. Then set to work to provide them with as many of those concessions as you can.

If the client doesn’t want any extras, then you can’t use the value versus price argument to win this business. Quit trying, and move on to something else.

In today’s highly competitive marketplace, pricing pressure is a constant menace. If you want to be successful, make sure the deals you close are profitable. Although your first goal should be to keep your existing customers, be careful of offering so much that the client ends up costing you money. If your client base is too price-sensitive, find new clients that want the value you have to offer, not just the lowest price.

It is not easy, but it is simple to do if you have conviction. The first step to finding better clients—those that focus on value and not price—is to make sure you are 100% confident that you are delivering such a high value to the marketplace that all buyers will want to own it at full cost.
Colleen Francis is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions. Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line. She can be reached at EngageSelling.com.

-what was your biggest takeaway lesson from the ideas above?

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