Customer Retention Strategies That Beat Sales Turnover

Smiling_business_executiveIt’s a fact of life that turnover is a continual problem in virtually any salesforce. While this issue has been studied in depth, and is worth understanding, the immediate concern for the sales manager is to make sure customers don’t suffer from any such losses.

Studies have shown that more than half of all turnover is caused by underperformers, but while these numbers aren’t great for your bottom line, it’s almost easy to manage. Accounts are reassigned. Applications flow in. Interviews begin. Training is commenced. And a new —hopefully more successful—hire is added to the team.

But when you lose a superstar rep, you have a whole other set of problems to deal with above and beyond simply reassigning accounts and finding a new body for the desk. Damage control comes into play as you must struggle to keep up a good relationship with clients who have lost a trusted contact, and the loss of a good seller is always felt in many small (and some big) ways throughout the whole organization.

Despite the differing situations, the most effective way to deal with the loss of sales personnel—whether under performers or top sellers— is to accept it as a fact of life and ensure you have effective plans to deal with it when it occurs, such as having the ability to quickly outsource inside sales.

Proactive Planning for Turnover and Transition

If your marketing strategy incorporates the expectation of turnover at the sales rep level, there are a number of proactive steps that your sales managers employ. These processes will help make any transition seamless to your customers and protect the hard-earned relationships— especially with your top customers.

Use Effective Sales Tools and CRM Applications.

One of the great advantages of quality sales tools is the top-down visibility of individual contact information. As your reps move a prospect, or existing customer, through the sale cycle and post-sale support, a good CRM gives salespeople and their managers access to detailed information and action items. With an effective process for ensuring every prospect and pending deal is placed in the system, there are fewer surprises in the closing process and overall pipeline management. Likewise, if a sales rep leaves without notice, all the relevant information is online and readily accessible by the assigned replacement.

Maintain Sales Funnel Visibility.

The job of any effective marketing campaign is to generate a continual stream of qualified prospects. As these are fed to the sales team, they should not disappear into the personal files of any one sales rep. From the time a sales lead is generated until it closes or is made inactive, the management team should be aware of its status and progress, including key contact data.

Maintain Customer Visibility.

While the very best sales reps are often protective of their top customers and clients, it is all the more reason for ensuring that customer relationships are built as much with the company as the rep.

It is entirely appropriate and wise to develop a culture where both reps and customers expect at least quarterly interaction with a corporate manager or executive. While such quarterly or other periodic contacts are positioned as goodwill investments in the relationships, they provide an all-important form of insurance that a customer will stay with the company if a rep leaves. A call from a VP, for example, who has regularly visited with a customer’s counterpart to introduce a replacement rep will go much smoother and is far more effective from a retention perspective.

Manage Social Media Relationships.

Another strong argument for having the right CRM application is the increasing use of social media. While it is very important, to relationship-building, that your customer contact be managed exclusively or primarily through the rep’s social media platforms, this kind of personal interaction can leave you at loose ends when reps move on. Standard procedure should require entry of all essential information and contact data in the company CRM program.

Maintain Flexible Resources.

Time is of the essence when reacting to the loss of a salesperson, especially with top performers. Maintaining a professional call center backup provides the ability to outsource inside sales to a knowledgeable and proficient rep to a number of accounts immediately and efficiently. It also avoids overloading other internal resources and their ability to perform.

A little planning goes a long way towards the goal of retaining your customers when you suffer the loss of a top performer or even a rep you’re glad to see leave especially when you can quickly outsource inside sales.

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